Saturday, March 7, 2015

Assignment America - Selma Fifty Years Later

Legendary reporter Gay Talese captures the ambiguity of racial progress in America.-gwc
Assignment America: Selma -
by Gay Talese  March 6, 2015

" IN downtown Selma last week, as I retraced the route I had taken 50 years ago while following hundreds of civil rights marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and onto a highway blocked by hostile white lawmen who would soon create “Bloody Sunday,” my attention was drawn to the vigorous activities of a middle-aged black man who was holding a shovel and digging holes in the dirt between the curb and sidewalk of Broad Street, which leads to the bridge. Then he began planting pansies, azalea bushes and small juniper trees that he hauled from the back of a 1997 Ford truck parked nearby that belongs to Steavie’s Landscape Design and Construction company.  “I’m not Steavie,” he said after I had watched him for a while, and finally approached with what he might have assumed were troublesome questions.
Security agents and other out-of-town suits had been wandering around the area in preparation for President Obama’s arrival this weekend for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. But the landscaper probably decided that I was too old to cause much trouble (I think of myself as a youthful 83); and so he relaxed, and, while leaning on his shovel and extending an ungloved hand, he said, “I’m Steavie’s brother.” He explained that he and a few of his friends were assisting Steavie in a city-sponsored endeavor to beautify Selma’s downtown area. “We only had eight days to do the job,” he said, conceding that lining the sidewalks with flowers and bushes in a city of limited resources and many vacant storefronts was a lot to ask of Steavie’s landscaping enterprise. During my four-block stroll along Broad Street from City Hall down to the bridge ramp, I counted 15 unoccupied locations."...

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