Selma: The Roots Run Deep, part 2


Marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma
Thousands march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on Sunday, March 8, 2015, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery civil-rights march. (MPR photo/Derrick Stevens)

I've made it back to the Twin Cities after spending the last five days in Selma, Ala., taking part in the Selma 50th-Anniversary march to Montgomery.

My original plan while visiting Selma was to do some blogging and share a few photos online, but once I arrived, I realized that for me, living in the moment was the best way to take part in the festivities, so all online posts had to wait until my journey was complete. I was able to experience this historic event just as I'd envisioned and was blessed to be able to travel down with my wife, mother, grandson and sister.

Of course, traveling down to Selma with my 79-year-old mother who was born in Selma meant reconnecting her with childhood friends, visiting aging family members and meeting new family members for the first time. In Selma on a nice day, you'll find people sitting out on their porches, and every house you drive past, you're guaranteed to get a wave or a "Hey now."

We visited the Edmund Pettus Bridge each day we were in Selma, but for me, Sunday was extra special; it was my birthday, and what better way to enjoy "my day." As we slowly made our way to the bridge, I thought about my elder family members who lived through a segregated and racist system in Selma and had to deal with discrimination and disrespect on a daily basis, for no other reason than the color of their skin. They decided enough was enough, took injustice head-on, and against the odds, they were able to obtain their right to vote. It's amazing American history and those are my real heroes — those are the foot soldiers who paved the way for my generation.

Derrick Stevens carries his grandson through SelmaNow, 50 years later in 2015, as I held my grandson on my shoulders, I knew that I was paving the way for the next generation, and one of its members calls me Pa Pa. His birthday is today; he turns two. Happy birthday, MJ!

I'm hoping in 50 years, he'll make it down for the 100th.

What has been done cannot be undone, so as we look back at what took place 50 years ago in Selma, Alabama, let us strive to make America a just society for all. We can play a major role in what will happen 50 years from now with the choices and decisions we all make today.

Selma is in my blood and my blood is in Selma.

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at Brown Chapel Church in Selma, Ala., in 1965. Derrick Stevens's grandfather comes into frame at 0:55 into the video (standing, applauding in second row of church).

Related Stories

  • Selma: The Roots Run Deep The Current's Production Manager, Derrick Stevens, is in Alabama to take part in the re-enactment of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march on Sunday, March 8. Listen to Derrick's civil-rights playlist and read about his personal connections to Selma. "Selma is in my blood, and my blood is in Selma," Derrick writes.
  • 9:30 Coffee Break: Songs for Selma Yesterday, an estimated 70,000 people -- including The Current's Derrick Stevens -- marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march. For today's 9:30 Coffee Break, what songs that capture the spirit of civil rights and equality do you want to hear?

4 Photos

  • Derrick Stevens with his family in Selma, Ala.
    Derrick Stevens with his wife, grandson and mother at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. (courtesy Derrick Stevens)
  • Derrick Stevens carries his grandson through Selma
    Derrick Stevens carries his grandson on his shoulders through Selma, Ala. (Tiffany Stevens)
  • Derrick Stevens and his grandson in Selma, Ala.
    Derrick Stevens with his grandson in Selma, Ala. (Tiffany Stevens)
  • Selma is a crossroads of America
    Selma is one of the crossroads of America. (MPR photo/Derrick Stevens)

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