Movie about civil rights will draw visitors to Selma Dr. Martin Luther King is interviewed by newsmen as he left jail in Selma, Alabama in 1965. At left, David Oyelowo portrays Dr. Martin Luther King in a scene from "Selma," (AP photos)
Movie about civil rights will draw visitors to Selma
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The 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches in Selma and the movie that tells the story are expected to bring thousands of visitors to the historic Alabama city this year.

Visitors can still walk across the bridge. It's where voting rights marchers were beaten in 1965. Visitors also can see the churches where protests were organized.

"There are certain place names in American history where significant, history-making events took place. Like Gettysburg, Valley Forge and Vicksburg. And I think because of this film, Selma becomes one of the place names that stands as a significant milestone in American history," Alabama tourism director Lee Sentell said.

Oprah Winfrey, other actors from "Selma" and hundreds more marched to the city's Edmund Pettus Bridge this year on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But a bigger event is expected to attract more than 40,000 people in Selma on March 5-9. The annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee will include a walk across the bridge March 8.

The event will mark the 50th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday." Law enforcement used billy clubs and tear gas to rout marchers intent on walking 50 miles to Montgomery. It happened on March 7, 1965,. The marchers were seeking the right for blacks to register to vote. A new march, led by Martin Luther King Jr., began March 21, 1965. It arrived in Montgomery on March 25. By that time, the crowd had grown to 25,000. Montgomery is the state capital of Alabama.

Those events and others helped lead to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The law opened Southern votng places, or polls, to millions of blacks. It ended all-white rule in the South.

Today, the bridge and downtown business district in Selma look much as they did in 1965. But there are some differences. Many storefronts are empty. Government buildings are occupied largely by African-American officials.

Attractions related to the protests are all within walking distance of the bridge. They include the First Baptist Church. That's where many protests were organized. And Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, where marchers congregated before going to the bridge and where they sought safety after being beaten.

Near the bridge, there is a free tour of an interpretative center built by the National Park Service. The center offers photographs of the events and emotional video interviews with people who were on both sides of the issues.

Nearby is the Ancient Africa, Enslavement and Civil War Museum. Visitors can see how slaves were captured, sold and exploited. There's a depiction of what it was like to be on a slave ship bound for America.

"You have to know about slavery to know why we didn't have the right to vote," said Faya Rose Toure, one of the museum's founders.

Then tourists can retrace history by walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to a park and the National Voting Rights Museum. Museum artifacts include surveillance photos taken by state police. One feature that stands out is the white plaster footprints of the largely unknown participants in the march.

"Everybody has seen pictures of Dr. King leading the march. Those people behind him are what we are focusing on," historian Sam Walker said.

Other sites include the Greyhound bus station where Freedom Riders seeking to integrate interstate transportation were beaten by a white mob in 1961. There's a museum commemorating Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott that King led in 1955. And the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where King served as pastor. He later moved to Atlanta to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Alabama's governor is Robert Bentley. He said the movie and the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act are opportunities to relive history. And to see how Alabama has changed.

"Alabama is a different place than it was 50 years ago. We need to always remember our history. But we can't live in the past," he said.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is Selma likely to attract more visitors in March than it did for Martin Luther King's birthday?

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COMMENTS (56)
  • ateyal-Orv
    1/27/2015 - 10:46 a.m.

    Iwatched the movie it made it was so goo it made me through up because of all the killing but i loved it so go and watch it

  • Jasonrenteria
    1/27/2015 - 01:05 p.m.

    It is cool but please talk about Selma no offense but you keep on talking about dr.king next time if you do in other article please review it I'm not hating but do better please

  • ConnorK-2
    1/27/2015 - 06:49 p.m.

    The movie "Selma" could be the cause for Alabama receiving so much tourism. The movie "Selma" depicts the life of Matron Luther King jr. And the civil rights movement. The actors of the movie cross the Edmund Pettus bridge to walk fifty miles. Today, the bridge hosts free tours to learn about the history of the bridge, and the acts that took place there. Other cites that could become active is the Greyhound bus station where supporters of the civil rights movement were beaten by a group of white men with clubs. Robert Bentley, the Alabama governor, said these tours and movies will help people relive the history of slaves and movements.

  • ImanB-1
    1/27/2015 - 08:04 p.m.

    The new movie, Selma, has brought many more visitors to Alabama this year. Selma is about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement of 1965. He led the march, at times when blacks weren't allowed to vote. I have watched this movie, and it is amazing, Martin Luther King Jr. and everyone else that participated in the peaceful protest are brave and courageous!

  • Bentley316
    1/27/2015 - 10:47 p.m.

    I think it's great the movie is attracting more people. It's not only good for the economy, but also for people to learn more about our history and the brutal things the people against segregation had to go through. If it weren't for those strong people, our nation might still today be the same way. I feel like this movie is a great to view this event and tell of the story. I hope everyone gets a chance to see it and really understand it to understand more of our past.

  • MaxM-4
    1/27/2015 - 11:25 p.m.

    This year is the 50th anniversary of the famous Selma march, depicted in the movie, Selma. This event is expected to bring thousands of tourists to Selma, Alabama this year. Many historical sights can be found in Selma. These include museums, churches, and parks.
    I thought this was a very interesting article. I have never been to Selma, or even Alabama for that matter, but it sounds like a cool place to visit.

  • JackR-5
    1/28/2015 - 12:07 p.m.

    This year will be the 50th anniversary of the Martin Luther king March. The blacks marched across a bridge to fight for voting rights. Officials attacked them with tear gas and bats. They called this day Bloody Sunday, because of the cruelty. A new movie called Selma is about this day and Martin Luther king. It will hopefully remind us of the terrors of this day. I think that the new movie will be really good. It will show us an accurate depiction of what life was like back then.

  • bgjuly200
    1/28/2015 - 01:02 p.m.

    I think black people have the right to do everything the won't because we are the same people and most people that don't like as is in shame in I don't like that at all

  • 4BlueLiz14
    1/28/2015 - 09:05 p.m.

    Selma is likely to attract more visitors in March than it did for MLK day, because March is the month of the march... I think. I wanna see the movie Selma! It sounds good, and exciting. I'm glad Martin Luther King Jr was here to lead the march. I have great friends who are colored.

  • abbehh
    1/29/2015 - 08:43 a.m.

    The movie does sound like it would attract people to visit the places where the marches happened. I wonder how many people would actually go as far as taking interest or just to say that they've been there. It would actually be pretty cool to see how much Alabama has changed. If I saw the movie, I would want to go visit those places and I would actually think about doing a"Then and Now" chart.

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