Selma to Montgomery March Actually Started in Marion
From the West Alabama Newsroom–
Bloody Sunday — and the Selma to Montgomery marches are widely known civil rights events — that changed the nation — and impacted the world.
But what if I told you those events didn’t actually start in Selma?
“Nothing that happened in Selma caused the Selma to Montgomery March. Everything that caused the Selma to Montgomery March happened in Marion, Alabama,” said Albert Turner, Jr.
The idea for a march to the state capitol — came after the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson.
Jackson was shot by a state trooper James Bonard Fowler — following a mass meeting at Zion Church in Marion.
The mass meeting was held at night — in support of Civil Rights leader — Rev. James Orange who had recently been arrested during a demonstration — and taken to the old Perry County Jail.
“Word had gotten out that they were gon’ kill him, said foot soldier Della Maynor.
“So, you know, you just wanted some people to be around. And once we got out that’s when the police came out from around the courthouse and wherever else they were.”
Maynor says the marchers ran for cover — when they were attacked by state troopers.
“We dispersed once they charged us. We went to familiar places. For me, it was Mack’s Cafe which was right behind the church here, she said.
“Then there’s Jimmie coming in and so he’s, they already struggling. They fought on back out the door. And then you hear the gunshot.”
Jimmie Lee Jackson died at Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma eight days later.
And that’s when civil rights leader James Bevel — suggested that Jackson’s body be taken to Montgomery and placed on the Capitol steps — for Governor George Wallace to see.
Albert Turner, Sr. was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in Perry County.
“He made people understand that life doesn’t have to be the way it is here in Marion, Alabama. We have certain rights and we have the right to make sure that it happens,” said Maynor.
“He was just an inspiration all the way around. And it didn’t take much for us to follow him. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of the people on that bridge with Albert and John Lewis that fateful day were people from Marion, Alabama. That was the Bloody Sunday march. The vast majority on the front line was Albert’s folks. My brother was one of them.”
Turner’s son Albert Turner, Jr. is Perry County Commission Chairman.
“It was very important for us to know that my dad was out trying to make — this world a better place. We knew that,” he said.
Turner, Sr. was a school mate of Dr. Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta — and Andrew Young’s wife, Jean. Both ladies are natives of Perry County — who attended the Lincoln School.
“Marion was key to the 1965 Voting Rights Act being passed,” said Turner, Jr.
“You don’t get to Selma, you don’t get to the Edmund Pettus Bridge unless you come to Perry County, to Marion, Alabama.”