Thoughts On Selma . . .
In my novel, Searching for Cool-Praying for Heat, I write about a Black sharecropper family, the Millers, and how the white main character’s family helps them.
In the background, the two Miller sons—Robert and John Henry—attend North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. They write to their mother, Iris, and keep her abreast of the long-running lunch counter sit ins. Trying not to alarm their parents, they try to put a positive spin on what was happening there in Greensboro.
In the face of white intransigence with desegregating public facilities, a group of students at Shaw University, also in Greensboro, students created the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which became known as SNCC. This was in April of 1960. Notable is that John Lewis was one of the early leaders.
In another three months, the Greensboro government and downtown retailers agreed to desegregation. It took six months of continuous demonstrating to achieve this first step.
Then as the sit-ins were proved effective, hundreds of others took place all over the South. In July, Brian and Ed O’Rourke—characters in the novel—participate in Legrand’s first and most successful sit-in.
So it is historically correct to draw a line between these early organizers, including Dr. King, and all those who were part of the Selma marches during March of 1965.
By the time of the Edmund Pettis Bridge event, most of those people surrounding Martin Luther King had at least five years of experience with demonstrations. I like to think my characters Robert and John Henry were on that bridge fighting for justice.