Saturday, April 10, 2010
Selma, Annie Pearl Avery
[Jacob] In Selma, we ran into Annie Pearl Avery, a veteran of the civil rights movement. She told us about her experiences. Annie Pearl had participated in most of the southern civil rights demonstrations, such as the March on Washington, Bloody Sunday, and The Freedom Riders. She worked for SNCC and had been thrown in jail too many times to for her to remember. She told us that she had awoken on September 15, 1963 to the sound of the bomb exploding at the 16th street baptist church in Birmingham, AL.
[Richard]We had an incredible experience meeting Annie Pearl Avery. When we went to visit the Voting Rights Museum, at the foot of the Edmund Pettus bridge, we found the doors locked and an older Black woman waiting in the parking lot. This was Ms. Avery, and so instead of visiting the museum, we were privileged to listen to her amazing story of active participation in the civil rights movement from the Freedom Rides on through to the present day. Ms. Avery ran the voter registration drive for SNCC in Hale County. She was present at just about every major event of the movement in the mid-sixties, including Albany, Birmingham, Selma (where she was arrested on Bloody Sunday), and even the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City, where Fannie Lou Hamer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party attempted to seat an alternative delegate slate to the official all white Democratic Party list. Ms. Avery sat in jail with noted veterans of the movement such as Diane Nash, and she spent extended time in solitary confinement in Mississippi. Now she lives in Selma and volunteers her time at the museum there. We were lucky to meet her and hear her story.
In Selma we also visited the Brown Chapel AME Church, focal point for the movement and site of many mass meetings and speeches by Dr. King, as well as the Dallas County Courthouse, where Blacks were denied the right to register to vote by Sheriff Jim Clark.