Selma: The Roots Run Deep

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Derrick Stevens at the Selma History Museum in Selma, Ala., in 2004. (photo courtesy Derrick Stevens)
Listen:
The Roots featuring TV on the Radio - Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around / Soundtrack For A Revolution
| 02:56
  • The Roots featuring TV on the Radio - Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around / Soundtrack For A Revolution 02:56
  • Mahalia Jackson - I've Been Buked 05:10
  • Sam Cooke - It's Been A Long Time Coming 03:11
  • The Golden Gospel Singers - Oh Freedom! 03:05
  • The Staple Singers - Freedom Highway 02:55
  • James Brown - Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud 04:47
  • Public Enemy - Fight The Power 05:23
  • Bob Dylan - Death of Emmett Till 04:39
  • Sounds of Blackness - Optimistic 05:19
  • Marvin Gaye - What's Going On 03:45

I'm Derrick Stevens, production manager at 89.3 The Current, and I want to tell you a story:

I'm the youngest of six children born to Daniel and Elizabeth Stevens of Selma, Alabama, and my parents' parents spent the majority of their lives living in Selma. My mother and father married in 1955 and raised four children in Selma before heading northeast to New York City in 1962, adding my sister and me to complete the family.

As a kid, I remember taking summer vacations down to Selma to visit my grandmothers, Willie Lee & Leila Mae. I would soak up their firsthand accounts of the civil rights struggles the black residents of Selma had to deal with, and one thing that stuck with me is that my grandmothers were never bitter. Unfortunately, both of my grandfathers were already deceased, so I never had the chance to hear their words, but my grandmothers were able to fill in some blanks and because of that, I know the type of men my grandfathers were, and that shapes the man that I am.

I've always loved that li'l ole town, and I have so much appreciation and admiration for the people of Selma. I still have family there; my grandparents and my father are all buried in Selma and its surrounding counties. Selma is in my blood, and my blood is in Selma.

It is my honor to share my testimonial, and it will be an experience of a lifetime for me to take part in the 50th Anniversary of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march, with the re-enactment march taking place on March 8 — my birthday! How cool is that?

I'll share pictures from my journey to Selma when I get back. In the meantime, you can listen to some of my favorite civil rights songs in the playlist or by watching the videos I've gathered for you below.

The Roots featuring TV on the Radio - Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around / Soundtrack For A Revolution

Mahalia Jackson - I've Been Buked

Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come

The Golden Gospel Singers - Oh Freedom!

The Staple Singers - Freedom Highway

James Brown - Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud

Public Enemy - Fight The Power

Bob Dylan - Death of Emmett Till

Sounds of Blackness - Optimistic

Marvin Gaye - What's Going On

1 Photos

  • 16bc3e 20150302 derrick stevens
    Derrick Stevens at the board in MPR's Maud Mood Weyerhaeuser Studio. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)

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