The Opposition by Maggie Gray

The Selma Interpretive Center has computer kiosks that allow visitors to watch videos of people who participated in the Civil Rights Movement speak about their experiences. They not only have videos of protestors, marchers, and journalists, but also those who oppose the Civil Rights Movements. This videos of “The Opposition,” as they are labeled, were one of the most intriguing aspects of the center.

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Pins like this one were worn to demonstrate resistance to integration and equalityPatricia Goodwin, spoke of the march from Selma to Montgomery as an excuse for people to engage in interracial relations and drink excessively. Another, Bobby Black, claimed that the march was simply a giant party. It was shocking and disconcerting to see that, even decades after the Civil Rights Movement has ended and laws have been established to mandate equality, there are still people speaking out. I knew that people like that existed, but it made me uncomfortable to see and hear them actually saying such bigoted things. Their harsh words stuck with me, and I was surprised to see their faces again at the Lowndes County Interpretive Center. This time, they were featured in the center’s introductory video, and were again filmed saying very intolerant things about the Civil Rights Movement. Once again, I was troubled by these words.

Patricia Goodwin, a white Selma native, was one of the most intriguing. As I walked around Selma, and through the Lowndes County Interpretive Center, I considered the implications of these words. In Selma, I wondered if the presence of people like Ms. Goodwin and Mr. Black was a contributing factor to its dilapidated state. There has been extensive white flight, and it is hard to separate that from such comments. Racism could also be the reason people are so reluctant to move to Selma, or to try to rebuild the city, because some may have negative perceptions of a community largely made up of black citizens. Throughout the Lowndes Country Interpretive Center, I considered the problem of the words spoken on the videos. These people were recorded decades after the movement ended and goals had supposedly been achieved, but how much has really been accomplished if there are still people who believe these things? If they are passionate enough about their beliefs to share them with a video crew for a civil rights museum, those people would certainly not be afraid to take actions in line with their ideas. While I am proud of the progress made in the Civil Rights Movement, the words of Ms. Goodwin and Mr. Black show that many people choose to ignore what really happened, and replace the facts with insulting falsities. We need to educate people on the realities of the movement, that people were killed and severely injured, not simply having a party. People fought and sacrificed for a cause they truly believed in, and we have a responsibility to continue that legacy. Full civil rights have not been accomplished for all, and the words of “The Opposition” demonstrate that the fight is not yet over. In the face of such discrimination, we must stand up.

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One thought on “The Opposition by Maggie Gray

  1. Your comments remind me that we must stand up for what is right, regardless of the opposition we may face. There is always more we can achieve.

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