Celebrate that historic time in our country’s past when voting rights demonstrations and the Selma to Montgomery March became news around the world. The Selma to Montgomery March Byway offers an RV excursion that is hard to beat in reliving a vital time in America’s history. You can follow the route of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he led the way on the Road to Freedom.
Beginning on the 7th of March 1965 in Selma, Alabama, the Selma to Montgomery March wound its way through Selma, marking the start of something big for America. As you follow this trail all the way to Montgomery, you will visit key spots along the way. The route is 54 miles long and, depending on how often you stop, can take from one hour to a full day. RV campgrounds can be found near Selma and in Montgomery. One great park is the Montgomery South RV Park with large pull-through spaces.
Your visit should start with the First Baptist Church where Dr. King spoke often to others of the Civil Rights Movement. He also would gather youth together here to enlighten them on the struggle. Then you can stop at the Brown Chapel, another major attraction on the byway. This church also housed many civil rights activities in the county. This is the location where the march actually began.
Cecil B. Jackson Public Safety Building was the City Hall in old Selma and held the jail where King and other protestors were imprisoned for their protests. You can stop here and visit and get the feeling of the vital spirit of those days. While others were still in jail, marchers would file past and sing loudly to give them hope.
The scene of Bloody Sunday was located at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On March 7th, as the marchers moved across this bridge, they were stopped and driven back by troopers and sheriff deputies as well as a posse on horseback. The unarmed marchers were attacked – beaten and gassed – which shocked the nation. The bridge became a symbol of all the changes taking place in America and communities around the world. On one shore you can go to a park which commemorates the site of Bloody Sunday.
Further along you will find the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute. This museum will give you a full overview on the struggle for equal voting rights, with first-hand stories about this historic march. As you travel on the route taken by the marchers, you will see a number of campsites where they spent the night. Be sure to stop when you see one to get more of the history of the times.
The City of St. Jude was one major campsite of the marchers on March 24th. The site of their camp was the athletic field and marked the last night on the march to the capital. Many celebrity singers came to celebrate, including Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, Peter, Paul and Mary and Sammy Davis Jr.
The end of your trip will be in Montgomery, Alabama, the same ending for the marchers on this particular quest for freedom. Visit the Alabama State Capitol where King delivered one of his most famous speeches. Your RV trip is over, but the memories made from this journey will never be forgotten.
Photo credits: The picture of Brown Chapel is copyright © 1996 Selma to Montgomery March Byway. It is used here in accordance with their terms and conditions. The picture of the Edmund Pettus Bridge is copyright © 2001 Selma to Montgomery March Byway. It is also used here in accordance with their terms and conditions.