The Power of Travel. Why You Need to Visit Selma, Alabama.

 You might not realize it, but travel is powerful. Selma, Alabama, with its rich history and unbelievable yet true stories, is one place you might want to add to your travel bucket list.Voting Rights Mural in Selma, Alabama

*Many thanks to the Selma Chamber of Commerce and the Alabama Black Belt Adventures for sponsoring this trip.*

The Power of Travel. Why You Need to Visit Selma, Alabama.

Learning from the Past to Build for the Future

I love the mural’s message in the picture above: Learning from the Past to Build for the Future. It’s important to step outside of our comfort zones every once in a while and experience new things. I’ve been on a couple of emotional travel trips over the course of my life and Selma ranks right up there in terms of the range of emotions it evoked. It’s one thing to learn about history from textbooks, but it’s another thing entirely to hear personal stories from people who were there and actually lived it!

Graffiti at the bottom of the Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama

An important graffiti message I found when I walked under the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

Why Selma?

When I told people I was going to Alabama, the reaction was generally one of disbelief. “Why would you go there?” people asked me. “It’s not a place I would feel comfortable going,” other people told me. There’s definitely a stigma associated with the Deep South and it’s not really positive. And that’s exactly why I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and experience Selma first hand. My amazing trip to Huntsville last year opened my eyes to the possibilities of Alabama. And my trip to Selma this spring really made me reflect on so many values I hold near and dear to my heart. I’m so glad I didn’t discount Selma because of preconceived ideas about the South.Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama

If you’re not familiar with Selma’s contribution to the Civil Rights Movement (and in all honesty I wasn’t until I visited), here’s a brief synopsis of their “claim to fame:” Bloody Sunday. On March 7, 1965, six hundred nonviolent protesters crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on foot headed to the state capital of Montgomery where they were going to protest voting inequalities. The protesters were blocked and ordered to turn around by Alabama State troopers and local police. When they refused to turn around, the nonviolent protesters were beaten with billy clubs, sickened with tear gas, and over 50 people ended up in the hospital. The event was televised around the world and a second successful march organized by Martin Luther King Jr and given federal protection happened on March 21, 1965. The outrage surrounding Bloody Sunday culminated on August 6, 1965 when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was finally passed.

Travel has the ability to effect positive change

One thing I learned at the TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) Conference in Huntsville that I attend in early May is the ability of travel to effect social and economic good. Now I never really thought of travel as a way for me to be a benefit to other people. Rather, I always thought about the fun things can I see or do when I’m traveling, somewhat narcissistic, right? Yet, reality.

Old Cahawba Archaeological Site - Cahaba, Alabama

But the truth is, we spend money when we travel. Money that can help people and communities. We also meet new people (hopefully), we hear new stories, and generally, we leave with a better understanding of humanity. Learning about the plights of others and having empathy is so important! Travel is a great way to gain an understanding and appreciation for new ideas that we might not learn anywhere else!

St James Hotel in Selma Alabama

Selma can benefit from your travel dollars

Sadly, the city of Selma has fallen into a state of disrepair. Shuttered buildings abound. The movie Selma wasn’t even entirely filmed in the city, and the majority of tourists come in on buses from Birmingham or Montgomery, cross the Edmund Pettus bridge, and then head out. Beautiful, huge, ornate houses are for sale for ridiculously low prices, and potential is everywhere!!

Civil Rights Memorial Mural in Selma

Selma has so many amazing stories that we need to hear. Stories of personal sacrifice, perseverance, and unbelievable historical bravery. Stories of what people can accomplish when they come together for the greater good. I really think that if we take the time to hear the stories and meet the people, we foster a better future, just like the first mural says: learn from the past to build for the future. 

Do something for Selma

As you plan vacations, I challenge you to think about the impact your travel dollars can have. Money can make a big impact. Stay in Selma, eat in Selma, buy souvenirs in Selma –> all of these actions can benefit a real person at the same time that you’re having fun! 

Stay tuned for another article full of the amazing things you can do in Selma. You might be surprised by everything you’ll find there!

Have you thought about the social good travel can create? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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