The history of our area is steeped in rich African American heritage. So many of our esteemed leaders have left an indelible impact not only on our city, county, and region, but across the globe. From the stinging yoke of slavery to the liberation and empowerment of the Reconstruction Era; from decades of disenfranchisement to the passage of the Voting Rights Act; from oppressive Jim Crowe laws to a proliferation of African American elected officials; our history is black history. We invite you to explore a small slice of Selma and Dallas County’s African American Heritage by visiting these 10 sites:
Prior to the Civil War, this popular riverboat hotel (including a stable at the time) was managed by an enslaved man; Benjamin Sterling Turner. Upon emancipation, Turner purchased the hotel and stable from his former owner and ran it successfully for many years. He went on to pursue a prominent career in public service becoming one of America’s first African-Americans to be elected to the US House of Representatives. Turner is interred at Old Live Oak Cemetery.
Alabama’s first permanent State Capitol, Old Cahawba, served as the center for early social and civic life in our area. After emancipation, many of Cahawba’s African American citizens played prominent roles fighting for hard-won political freedom during the Reconstruction Era. Many became landowners, including the Lightnings, Lattimores, Arthurs and others. Jordan Hatcher, Cahawba’s postmaster, was appointed to the Constitutional Convention. Tom Walker was one of Alabama’s first state legislators and became a highly successful lawyer in the District of Columbia, as well as a trustee of Howard University.
Selma and Dallas County’s Official History Museum houses an incredible range of artifacts relating to our African American heritage. See two of Felix Gaines’ murals that were once housed by the George Wilson Community Center. See actual arrest warrants that were issued to students marching for their parent’s right to vote. See a uniform worn by one of the Dallas County Sherriff’s posse men.
View monuments dedicated to the leaders of the Voting Rights Movement. Park includes trails through wooded areas draped in Spanish moss that leads to breathtaking views of Selma and the Alabama River.
Civil Rights activists from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference held one of the first mass meetings at Tabernacle Baptist Church. This enabled the church to play a significant role in the struggle for racial equality in Selma and it is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Selma Interpretive Center serves as a welcome center for the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail and is located at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Visitors can explore exhibits and a bookstore dedicated to telling the story of the movement.
The Jackson Home was the official residence where world leaders resided while planning the Selma to Montgomery March in late 1964 until April of 1965. The home was built in 1912 by Dr. Richard Byron Hudson, a noted educator in Selma and is the only known residence in the country which has housed three African American dentists and their families from 1912-2013. Tours are conducted throughout the home which contains original artifacts related to the American Voting Rights Movement.
View memorabilia honoring the attainment of Voting Rights. Exhibits depict the voting rights struggle in America from “Bloody Sunday,” the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Civil Rights Movement. Admission charged.
Visit the headquarters for the 1965 voting rights marches. A bust of Dr. King in front of the church commemorates his involvement in the movement. Admission charged. Please call ahead to schedule tour.
This famous Civil Rights landmark represents a pivotal point in Voting Rights as law enforcement officers attacked marchers with tear gas and nightsticks on “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965.