AOn paper, Selma is a model city. A cradle of the black civil rights movement in the United States. The place where police bludgeoned hundreds of demonstrators on what became known as Bloody Sunday in March 1965, and where those demonstrators went out again two days later to protest for equal voting rights for black Americans. The place from which Martin Luther King, then already a Nobel Peace Prize winner, finally led the demonstrators in a third march in five days to the steps of the Capitol in Montgomery. The location credited as the starting point for the historic August 1965 Voting Rights Act that protects black voters from discrimination.
In reality, Selma is a godforsaken place, every third person here lives in poverty. On average, people live on just under $30,000 per household per year. 85 percent of the almost 18,000 inhabitants are black. Selma has no public transport and no school buses, and the crime rate is one of the highest in the country. And anyone who thinks the main street is desolate with its many murky windows has not yet passed the dozens of boarded-up wooden houses outside the center of Selma. The city’s homeless sleep in the former Good Samaritan Hospital, where civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson died in 1965 from his gunshot wound.
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