We shelter our children. Of course we shelter our children, that’s our job. We protect them from things that could hurt them, from things that could steal their innocence and from things they aren’t ready for, until they are.
We were staying in the Florida Panhandle when hurricane Irma came barreling towards the state. We decided to take advantage of our mobility and get our tiny little home outta town. With hundreds of thousands of evacuees we had to travel a little further than we first planned to find a decent campground.
When we left I didn’t even know where we were headed, just north and west to get away from the path of the storm. About an hour into our drive I got an email from Fulltime Families listing family-friendly campground for evacuees – perfect timing! We chose Jennings Ferry Park an Army Corp of Engineers campground in Western AL, made reservations, plugged it into Google Maps and we were on our way. We lucked out, the campground was beautiful and maybe only 1/4 full. And most importantly, well outside the reach of Hurricane Irma.
Watching the hummingbirds feed.
So, back to sheltering my children…
Wherever we go I try to find learning opportunities for our family. The campground happened to be about 90 minutes from Selma, AL so we took this opportunity to immerse ourselves in some history of the Civil Rights movement, specifically the events in Selma in the 1960s.
It’s so hard to introduce your sweet, innocent children to this level of hatred. (Yes, I 100% recognize the immense blessing on our lives that we can choose to shelter them from hatred – the weight of that is not lost on me). Even though it’s hard to teach our children about evil, it needs to be done, they need to know this level of hatred exists, they need to know what it looks like, they need to know what’s right and what’s wrong and what they can do to always be on the side of right.
We spent one day wandering around Selma. We started at the Civil Rights Interpretive Center, spent some time in the museum and picked up Jr. Ranger packets for the girls.
We walked across the Edmund Pettus bridge, where the Bloody Sunday attacks took place. We paused on the bridge to pray where Martin Luther King Jr. paused to pray, and chose to turn around on Turnaround Tuesday. It’s powerful to stand in these spaces where such massively important history was made.
On our way back to Florida, we stopped at the Lowdnes County Interpretive Center along Hwy. 80, the route of the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965.
It’s the site of the Tent City where so many African Americans lived after being displaced for taking a stand during this time. The exhibit there is equally as powerful as waking around Selma. This is certainly the first Jr. Ranger badge that brought me to tears over and over again.
Our experience in Alabama has always been that Alabamans are nicest people in the world. Black, white, doesn’t matter, everyone we’ve encountered in Alabama has an honest, heartfelt kindness that you just don’t find everywhere. I find it difficult to try to reconcile that kindness with the dark, evil acts of hatred in their not-at-all-distant past. The hope that I cling to is that it’s because most people are actually good, it’s just that the relatively few bad ones are capable of so much harm.
If you find yourself near Selma I highly recommend spending some time educating yourself and your kids about the history of this area. Some of the resources we used, that I would recommend, to learn more about Selma.
For the kids:
Both National Park Interpretive Centers were excellent. They have a difficult job of teaching us about horrific violence while maintaining a PG rating for the kids. I would say they did a good job. There were just a couple of images we came across that were quite graphic, but it’s a graphic story, I don’t know how you do it justice without showing any of those images. If your kiddos are really sensitive, proceed with caution.
On our drive up we listened to the audio book Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. (We met the author’s niece at the Selma Interpretive Center.) Please get this book and read it to your children (or to yourself), it’s a beautifully told, important, moving story of human strength, courage and hope. I highly recommend the audio book, the reader does an incredible job and it’s moving to hear the story in an accent close to that of the author.
For the grown ups (and some older kids):
Nick and I rented the movie Selma. The actor who played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., David Oyelowo, was breathtaking. From what we read the film is for the most part historical accurate. It’s a hard story, but it’s full of hope and incredible bravery.