Birmingham, Alabama, newspaperman Sikora interviewed two Selma women who were children during the bloody 1965 civil rights...

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SELMA, LORD, SELMA: Girlhood Memories of the Civil-Rights Days

Birmingham, Alabama, newspaperman Sikora interviewed two Selma women who were children during the bloody 1965 civil rights struggle and edited this brief, moving account of their recollections. During the Selma voter registration drive leading up to the Selma-to-Montgomery march, Sheyann Webb was a pint-sized eight-year-old, and Rachel West was her nine-year-old neighbor and best friend. Sheyann joined the Movement on her own, playing hooky from school to attend now-historic meetings at the Brown Chapel, and later enlisted her parents in the marches. Rachel, whose whole family was active in the Movement, joined her girlfriend in singing at the Church meetings. The girls became favorites of Dr. King and of Jonathan Daniels, a young white civil-rights worker who lived with the West family and was murdered in Lowndes County. The girls recall other terrifying beatings and murders; they speculated, they confide, on the Hight of the soul and envisioned entering heaven as another, grander march through the clouds. One moment they marched steadfastly against gas-masked Alabama troopers; the next, plagued by nightmares of Sheriff Jim Clark's horsemen, they crept into bed with their mamas. Recalling the Bloody Sunday confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Sheyann says, ""I forgot about praying, and I just turned and ran."" ""It took everything you had to come out here,"" says Rachel. The first-hand account of these two children--of their fear and bafflement (""I was just a kid, and they yelled at me"") and grief and hope for freedom--adds little to our knowledge of the facts of Selma, but much that is poignant and valuable to our understanding.

Pub Date: April 1, 1980

ISBN: 0817308989

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of Alabama Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980