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Selma visit highlights rich history

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala -- Forty-six years after the clashes in Selma during the civil rights movement, many of the historic sites remain reminders of the sacrifices of others. Members of the Maxwell-Gunter community will visit several of these landmarks on a field trip Feb. 8 organized by the African-American Heritage Committee.

"I'm looking forward to the sites," said Ronald Williams, a committee member who is helping to organize the trip. He hasn't visited the historic locations in Selma, and is excited to see where history was made.

Buses will depart at 8 a.m. from the Gunter shoppette and 8:30 a.m. from the Maxwell fitness center. Reserve a seat by Feb. 4 by contacting Janet Speer at 953-5469 or Master Sgt. Tara Williams at 416-6958.

Participants will tour the Voter Rights Museum and the Selma-to-Montgomery March National Historic Trail Interpretive Center in White Hall, both of which highlight the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

According to the National Park Service website, the Selma-to- Montgomery march for voting rights served as the climax for three weeks and three important events of the modern civil rights movement.

On "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, about 600 civil rights marchers protesting a lack of voting rights headed east out of Selma on U.S. Route 80, and were attacked by state and local law enforcement officers at the Edmund Pettus
Bridge six blocks away. Martin Luther King Jr. led a symbolic march to the bridge two days later. On March 21, after civil rights leaders attained court protection for a third march, about 3,200 marchers began their trip to Montgomery,
with the crowd ballooning up to 25,000 by the time they reached the city. About five months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which nixed the discriminatory voting practices common in those days.

In 1996, Congress created the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail under the National Trails System Act of 1968.

Mr. Williams said the trip is important for members of the Maxwell-Gunter community, since many have never visited these sites.

"We hope they'll be able to learn from the accomplishments of the past," he said. "We have to live the dream."

Each year the committee hosts a trip during February for African-American History Month. One year the group went to Tuskegee and visited to the Tuskegee Airmen National Museum and the George Washington Carver Museum.

Another year the committee went to downtown Montgomery, taking a tour on the trolley and seeing civil rights sites, such as the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.

African-American Heritage Month events

The African-American Heritage Committee is hosting a series of events for African-American History Month. For information on these programs, contact Janet Speer at 953-5469 or Master Sgt. Tara Williams at 416-6958.

Tuesday - Enjoy great food during Taste of Soul at the Ritchey Center, located near the Holm Center, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Admission is free.

Feb. 11 - Volunteers are needed to help with programs at Maxwell Elementary School, E.D. Nixon Elementary School and Coosada Elementary School.

Feb. 22 - Chief Master Sgt. Brye McMillon, the command chief master sergeant for Air University, will be the guest speaker at the annual luncheon at the Officers' Club at 11:30 a.m. The cost is $18 for chicken or $15 for vegetable lasagna. This program features a performance by the Sidney Lanier High School Choir.

Feb. 27 - The Gospel/Heritage Extravaganza is at 5 p.m. at Chapel 2.