Meaning: Helmet; Protected; Safety; Peace
Selma was a name used by James MacPherson, for a castle, in his 18th century poetry. It had a profound effect on many during a time of revolution and is believed to have inspired the name of the Alabama town. This area named Selma, having a tremendous impact on a nation.
Early America was a time of progress and pain. While some came for hopes of opportunity – many were forced into brutal labor and inhumane conditions. When cotton fueled the American economy, it seemed nearly hopeless for the many being oppressed. The nation became the leading cotton exporter. Its value influenced federal regulation. Some estimate, by the year 1860, cotton production generated $2,000,000 annually – which would equate to over $55,000,000 in 2015.
Approximately 4,000,000 slaves became the backbone of early American economy.
By the 1960s, segregation remained a prominent force in society. Years of injustice fueled a catalyst for change. Conditions of the South gained national attention and could no longer be ignored. Outrage erupted across the country. Supporters held demonstrations within their own cities while others went to Selma to join the activists there.
Six hundred marchers gathered to begin the journey but was violently stopped by law enforcement. Two days later, a second attempt was made, but was turned around, as demonstration leaders decided to wait for possible federal protection. Once the ordinance was granted, the Selma march to Montgomery took five days. And what started at 600 demonstrators – grew to 25,000 strong.
Selma was the catalyst for change – resulting in the passing of the Right to Vote Act of 1965. Martin Luther King, Jr. described Selma as, “a shining moment in the conscience of man.”
Stanford University | Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March
Today in History | March 7, 1965
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