Day 2: Meeting Ms. Kadesha, Mr. Webb and the March

MARCH 8, 2015.
Today's adventure was tiring and exciting. Everybody woke up and met in the lobby at 6:30 this morning. We hit the road for an hour and 30 minute drive to Selma from Montgomery. We arrived at Ms. Kadesha’s on Leola N. Robertson Street to have breakfast with Mr. Jimmie Webb and some of his activist friends. They made breakfast for us and talked to us about what they are here in Selma to accomplish and what the march meant to them. The breakfast was hosted at Kadesha's house and we were welcomed with open arms. I learned that the street was named after her mom because she opened her house up and welcomed everyone to stay and eat during the civil rights era. Then her mom hosted a breakfast at the house each anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and she (Ms. Kadesha) continues her moms legacy.  I sat down and began to eat.

One of Mr.Webb friends, began to talk to me. We began a nice conversation that turned into an interview. We talked about just about everything—politics, electricity, reading, culture and Selma. She told me how she got started in the movement. After her three kids were grown and she didn't have anything to do, she sold her house and began living off the grid. She told me her motto was "don't live off what you don't want to earn". She hated working and didn't like her job. She felt like if she didn't want to earn the money then she shouldn't live off the money. We sat for an hour and conversed. After speaking with her I was intrigued about how she led her life and why. I was stunned how much her words resonated with me. Around one, we headed toward Brown's Chapel and listens to Reverend Jessie Jackson speak. As he spoke we moved towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We stood in the crowd and slowly but surely made our way toward the bridge. The bridge was blocked off and we weren't allowed to walk across. When we decided to head back towards the hotel, I was frustrated. I was frustrated because I really wanted to walk across the bridge and be a part of something so monumental. I was also upset because that meant we would have to get up extra early the next day and go across the bridge. These last two days have been tiring but worth it. I enjoyed today and I really appreciate Mr.Webb introducing us and having us over with open arms. Mr. Webb is truly inspiring, loving and has a big heart. Every time I go on a trip like this I learn something new and always leave inspired. People from all over the country flew in and/or drove to participate in this huge event. They continue to live on with hope and a determination to keep Black rights and justice alive. They keep the dream that Martin Luther King and many other civil activist like him fought for alive. Being a part of that is overwhelming, intimidating but also gives me a sense of belonging and purpose.
- Reina Tindle, senior, Friendship Tech Prep Academy

March 8, 2015. This morning our group of journalists traveled to Selma in the “Unsuspecting Van” (at least that’s what I called it) that was rented. Since one does not simply wake up early, all extra slumber occurred in the van on the way there. When we arrived, we were sleepy, hungry, and excited. Also, we were thankful for being invited to a breakfast at the home of Kadesha, where marchers were resting and camping out. This is somewhat a tradition that her mother, Leola Robertson, began when the march first occurred in the 1960s. Annually when the march is remembered, Kadesha would have visitors stay in her backyard before participating in the march.
   The first person we met at Kadesha’s was none other than Jimmy Webb, who was wearing a medal that no doubt pertained to the anniversary of the 50th march. Many years ago when he was 16, he and his fellow teenage activists tried to march to the courthouse in Selma to pray until they were stopped by police. Jimmy, who was leading the march down the street, stood up against the racist police force with conviction. In any normal circumstance when non-violent activists were marching in protest, the police would have beaten them unmercifully. However, the policemen restrained from doing anything because news cameras were rolling. The footage can be found on YouTube at this link:

   Kadesha’s home was filled with the most diverse group of people: generally paragons of inspiration with stories so different and empowering I didn’t even listen to them all. Inevitably, we all ate said southern breakfast. For a moment, I didn't feel like eating. The home was filled with those from the Civil Rights Movement, some of whom had been in the original march in Selma. Despite the atmosphere being friendly and warm, I was touched by how these regular people changed lives because of their efforts. I was choked with inspiration. To make matters worse, they started singing a quick song about freedom, which had me on the verge of tears as I put together my breakfast.

Later, we walked over to Brown’s Chapel Church, which so happened to have a sermon going on inside, also shown on a big screen outside. A cluster of people were watching it from outside. Surprisingly, I even saw one of my classmates, Ahmaad Mattocks who had also come all the way to Selma. Afterward, we were on our way to the bridge to start marching.

We crossed through a large market area that was packed with people and vendors selling food. As we got to the bridge, there was an enormous cluster of people waiting to march. No one had crossed the bridge yet, and we waited an hour in the hot sun before leaving. A few people even fainted from the heat! That day the march was cancelled because the persons leading it couldn't even get to the front.
     For dinner, we went to a BBQ restaurant with the motto: "Ain't nothin' like em—nowhere" with the friend of our chaperone. Foolishly, I ordered chicken strips, neglecting to take advantage of what the restaurant had to offer. That day was also my friend Taila's birthday, which was celebrated with a surprise gift and chocolate cake. Once we were good and full, we rode back to the hotel. Tomorrow, we plan to revisit the bridge to compensate for the cancelled march.
-Brionna Wiggins, 8th grade, Friendship Woodridge Academy.

Today is Sunday, March 8th, 2015. Although our activities didn't go exactly as planned, it still was a day of learning. In the morning, we went to Selma, Alabama to Ms.Khadijah's home for a breakfast with Jim Webb. There were so many different people inside of her residence. There were buddhists, whites, blacks, peace walkers and civil rights activists. It is said that her house is the most diverse house in Selma, Alabama. Everyone inside the house had a different story to tell and no two stories were alike. They were all original. After talking to many of the people inside the home, I noticed that these people came from all around and so many different places, but they acted as family and respected each other on amazing levels. This showed me that the world is coming together at its own pace. Once we finished breakfast, we walked to the Edmund Pettus Bridge after stopping past Brown’s Chapel Church along our way. It was so packed at the bridge. People were everywhere patiently waiting to march. This showed me how dedicated and important the situation was to people. We stood out there for about an hour before turning around to go back. It was too hot and they weren't letting anyone march. We decided that we would just come back tomorrow and experience the walk across the bridge.
- Rydia Wright, senior, Friendship Tech Prep Academy.

March 8, 2015. Going into the second day of the trip, we all left extra early to head to the march. Before it all began, we were blessed to be able to have breakfast and start our day off with Jimmy Webb. He was so sweet and kind for making us breakfast and letting us communicate with him before we started the march. He is truly inspiring and motivational.
     At the March, it was very crowded and packed. You could hardly walk straight without bumping or touching someone. We stood at the bridge for about hour or more, squished between others who were also ready to walk. We got up as far as we could to see why we were stopped. As we grew a little tired of waiting, we figured they wouldn't continue so we left and decided to go back tomorrow.
     Well, as for today, we hope to get a chance to walk on the bridge and get a feeling of it as it was 50 years ago. On the other hand, the trip has been extraordinary so far and I wish it could last forever.
- Taila Bennett, 8th grade, Friendship Woodridge Academy.

Sunday March 8th, 2015. Today was the big day. This was the day where people from everywhere came to march across the bridge in Selma to celebrate the 50th Anniversary March to Montomery back during segregation. The other students and I dressed in casual professional clothes and with the midsummer weather, we had to pack drinks. Our first stop was to Kadesha’s house where we ate a nice home-cooked breakfast. I took photos around the house and neighborhood and listened to a brief history lesson from Jim Webb. After a few group photos, we started walking and saw other groups of people getting together by a big church. After a couple photos we continued to march, at first with the massive crowd then we separated to get to the bridge quicker. On our way to the bridge, I saw many things that interested me, from cultural groups playing drums and dancing in the street to the merchant stands where I bought a ring with the Rastafarian colors from a Jamaican merchant. It seemed the closer we got to the bridge, the higher the temperature was raised. As we waited for permission to pass onto the bridge with the behemoth crowd of supporters for freedom, people began to get tired and some dehydrated. There were a couple people who needed medical attention because they were getting dehydrated. We waited for clearance just a little longer, but temperatures were soon becoming too hot so for the students’ safety’s sake, so we headed back to the hotel. We didn’t forget that today was Taila’s 13th birthday and Ms. Kaufman already had plans to celebrate at a restaurant called Dreamland. We ordered and ate and then comes the cake. The cool crisp air in the night was refreshing and was sort of my lullaby when we rode back to the hotel.
- Michael Wood, senior, Friendship Tech Prep Academy.