History's Wes Dick Discusses Selma with Local Mentoring Group

March 20, 2015

Albion College Professor of History Wes Dick (center) with Albion Community School students and members of Sisters Influencing Society, a local mentoring group.Earlier this week, Albion College Professor of History Wes Dick (pictured, center) met with Albion Community School students and members of Sisters Influencing Society, a mentoring prorgram in Albion. Below, SIS shares an account of Dr. Dick's visit.

The acclaimed film Selma will be showing at the restored Bohm Theatre on March 21, 25, and 26. On March 18, a group of Albion young women prepared for their visit to see the film by inviting Albion College history professor and Albion NAACP Vice President Wesley Arden Dick to talk with them about Selma. The program, held at the Albion Community Foundation meeting room, was coordinated by Mrs. Eddie Williams, retired Albion Public School teacher and principal, who is an advisor for the Sisters Influencing Society (SIS) Mentoring Program. The young women attend Albion Community School and surrounding high schools.

Dr. Dick quizzed the audience about what they knew about Selma. The exchange was lively. Some of the SIS students had met civil rights icon Julian Bond at Albion College last year and others had met famous Selma leader and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis at Michigan State University last August. They had watched President Barack Obama lead a 50th-anniversary march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma earlier this month. The discussion centered on voting rights and all the obstacles that African Americans faced for merely trying to register to vote before the 1965 Voting Rghts Act was passed.

Dr. Dick introduced the film Never Lose Sight of Freedom, produced by the Selma to Montgomery Nation Trail and the National Park Service, which vividly portrayed the infamous Bloody Sunday of March 7, 1965, when Alabama State Troopers beat and tear gassed Lewis and others on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The victims included school-age Selma children who were marching that day—youngsters not unlike the SIS participants. On March 21, the voting-rights advocates began a march that made it all the way to Montgomery, Alabama’s capital, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave one of his most memorable speeches. The Selma to Montgomery March is legendary, and the young women of SIS now have an appreciation of the sacrifice paid, including the deaths of Mr. Jimmie Lee Jackson, Rev. James Reeb, and Mrs. Viola Liuzzo.

The Albion Community Schools, the Albion Branch NAACP, and SIS have plans to ensure that the SIS students see Selma at the Bohm. Albion can be proud that the next generation is learning the history of the Civil Rights Movement. After their "Sisters Influencing Society Selma Seminar," the SIS students are ready for the big-screen version of Selma. They also have a deeper appreciation of why it is important to vote.