What’s Your Selma?

What’s your Selma?

This question has been woven into the very fabric of our time on the trail. We talk about the history of course, and interlace our stories onto this holy landscape.

What’s your Selma?

For one lovely couple from South Carolina, it’s been the freedom to marry. Following in the footsteps of the non-violent protesters who integrated lunch counters, they’ve applied, repeatedly, for a marriage license. Same county office. Same county employee. Crew of allies and supporters in tow, video rolling.

Denied.

Denied.

Denied.

Denied.

Denied.

Denied.

Denied.

Are you that brave?

Have you ever been to a better party than the one they’re gonna throw this fall when they’re finally able to marry?

What’s your Selma? I had a long talk with a young woman this morning whose life was an itinerant one, bounced from foster care to adoption to having to do adulthood with no support after age eighteen. She got through college. She’s a keen and sensitive and instantly warm and safe person to be with. I loved hoofing up a hill with her.

She’s at this beautiful juncture of spiritual growth and discernment, spending a year with a lay religious organization to live in intentional community. I heard her stories of how she reflected and processed her life’s traumas…how it’s shaping her vocation and her faith life. She’s working with low-income people with mental illnesses; it’s a way for her to give back to a population that includes some of the close family members that she was unable to continue living with as a child.

She moved across the country to plunge into service, seeing the same kinds of wounds that had rent her own childhood.

Are you that brave?

What’s your Selma? I walk alongside people with physical disabilities and chronic diseases that make this march a painful one. People who were accustomed to serving others now need to ask for a ride, seek reasonable accommodations for their limitations, and continue to advocate for their own accessibility when their bodies are so achy and worn out after miles and miles.

Are you that brave?

What’s your Selma? Meandering along, I hear snippets. Stories of unplanned pregnancies, divorce, poverty, immigration, job burnout, accidents, diagnoses.

There are people here from places we may easily, viscerally associate with the scary or backward or regrettable things in America.

“Where you coming from?”

“I’m from Ferguson, Missouri.”

“South Side.”

“The Bronx.”

“Mississippi”

“The ghetto.”

Yet those geographies have produced a vibrant group of committed, large-hearted, engaged citizens. Our country is better for each of them. Our country is better for our Selmas.

All this weaving into a place that was once one of the toughest, the scariest, the most violent in America. It’s bringing out those dark corners in all our lives.

Last night Dr. Bernard Lafayette talked about what we would learn on the march. “It’s an emotional education,” he told us. You can watch footage, read books — but you will learn what you need to about the march by marching.

But perhaps like James Bevel, it’s not that we know exactly what we want to do and how to do it when we GET to Montgomery…it’s that we’ve got a long stretch of road…and the solidarity of community…to think it and walk it out.

What’s your Selma?

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