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Mon Mar 9, 2015, 07:45 PM

Glorious Selma!

Saturday, March 7, 2015.

My family and I left Montgomery at 8 am for the 50 mile drive to Selma to see President Obama in Alabama for the 50th Anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday.' We were driving west on Highway 80, the route of the historic march to Montgomery; driving back to Selma 50 years later to see the first black President of the United States on this historic occasion.

As we drove on, the traffic grew heavier and then came to a halt. The west bound lanes were now bumper to bumper as road work ahead bottled up for single lane traffic due to construction -- the never ending construction on Selma Highway. An occasional car took a turnaround, but most vehicles patiently and politely slowly moved forward.

As we neared Selma, caravans of state troopers, limousines and black SUVs sped past us in the east bound lanes hurrying on to Selma unimpeded. Throngs of drivers and passengers on our side of the divided highway would jump out of their vehicles, waving and snapshotting in case this was the President motorcading by, and this was our chance to say hello and welcome.

Car by car, we inched forward towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the 80 Business route through downtown Selma. The entrance to the secure public viewing area would be on the other side of the city, at Selma and Church Streets. Again, bumper to bumper, everyone patient and polite, we worked our way across the city and parked a few blocks down Selma Street. It was now noon, and the President was scheduled to speak soon, but we were here!

There was a line working its way through the 14 metal detectors and security agents who were checking the tens of thousands of people entering the secure area. This had started at 8:30 that morning, and the line we joined now stretched almost 4 city blocks. Patiently, politely, quietly and reverently, this massive line of people 5 to 25 abreast waited, and inched forward.

It was awe-inspiring how all these people wanted to get in there, wanted to be there. 2 hours later, my family and I passed through the metal detectors and on to Broad Street, finding ourselves about 3 blocks from the Bridge and the stage where the various attendees were to speak. It was now 2 pm and we were unsure if we had missed the President, but in fact, we had arrived just in time! With a raw guttural roar, the crowd welcomed first the children, then the President and First Lady as they bounded to the stage and seated.

The rest is history. Representative Terri Sewell, the first black woman elected to Congress, from Selma, gave a rousing, invigorating speech and introduction to civil rights icon John Lewis. The crowd, now elbow to elbow, but not crowded, as more people poured in behind us, was enthralled and in tears as John Lewis spoke, and then introduced President Barack Obama. Another roar! The rest is history.

What did it all mean? We recognize our history, and love our president. We have seen changes in our lives, unimaginable changes. And the old adage, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

But my favorite bestest moment, the thing that made this a perfect day, as we arrived before the Bridge and the President, just as we got there. The thing that told me we were in the right place at the right time with the right people, my kind of people, in the midst of all this hope and faith and reverence. Sometimes, you get what you deserve:



Now that's my kind of crowd! We'll see you in Montgomery, Governor Bentley.





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