Jackson shares first-hand accounts

Published 11:56pm Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A book featuring the civil rights movement in Selma will be the feature of Thursday’s scheduled “Lunch at the Library,” set to begin at noon at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library.

Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson will be on hand to sign copies of “The House by the Side of the Road” during the event.

Those interested in attending should contact the library at 874-1725 to register.

During the 1965 voting rights campaign Martin Luther King Jr. set up informal headquarters at the home of Dr. Sullivan Jackson, a Selma dentist, and his wife, Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson.

She was a lifelong friend of Coretta Scott King, a Marion native, Juanita Jones Abernathy of Uniontown, and Margaret Porter Creecy of York. Each married one of King’s closely aligned supporters and leaders in his voting rights campaign.

During the campaign, the Jacksons became reacquainted with the three and “our house became the pit stop for them,” Jean Jackson says. “We had known these people forever and we knew we had the same convictions.

“In fact, Martin helped himself to Sullivan’s clothes when he didn’t have his suitcase with him.”

Her book is a firsthand account of the behind the scenes activity of King and his lieutenants, told by Jean Jackson at the request of her husband, who died before its completion.

“Although he was ill, he had been concerned about some of the previously written King books, so he insisted that I finish this one,” Jackson said.

Her book is best understood by reading the poem from which the title is taken. Below is verse three of Sam Walter Foss’ poem, written in 1899, which perhaps best presents this story of the Selma civil rights movement:

“I see from my house by the side of the road

Where the race of men go by

The men who press with the ardor of hope,

The men who are faint with the strife.

But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears,

Both parts of an infinite plan;

Let me live in a house by the side of the road

And be a friend to man.”

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