Not in the history books

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Journalists get firsthand look at civil rights

By Megan Lavey / Selma Times – Journal

It is always interesting to see the world through other people’s eyes.

For a group of 17 journalists from across the nation and the United Kingdom, they got to look at Alabama for the first time through the eyes of the men and women who lived in the Civil Rights era &045;&045; and not through a history book.

This is the second year that journalists have made the trip down the Alabama Civil Rights Trail. The tour enables these reporters from other parts of the nation to witness how far Alabama has progressed since 1965. It began in Birmingham on Sunday and concludes in Montgomery today.

Joe Teeples, a video journalist with C-SPAN, is one of those people who had no idea what to expect when he arrived in Selma.

Prior to arriving in Birmingham, he had only been through Eufala and Dothan. Since then, he has had a major crash course in the civil rights movement.

Teeples pointed his handheld video recorder at the wall just inside of the National Voting Rights museum, recording the hundreds of small papers that told how people were linked to the Bloody Sunday march.

Teeples was only three years old in 1965. Before now, his knowledge of the civil rights era came through history books.

The same holds true for Matthew Holme, associate editor of Country Living magazine. Born in Pennsylvania, he grew up with the assumption that the civil rights era was filled with non-violent, peace protests and sit-ins, thanks to history books. He did not imagine some of the events that actually occurred.

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, known as the &uot;Father of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement,&uot; accompanied the group on its tour. He is currently pastor of a church in Cincinnati.

The reporters also got a chance to meet other leaders from the Civil Rights era.

There are 17 journalists participating in this year’s tour, said Cherie McGee, public relations account manager for Lewis Communications, which is handling the tour.

Although there were 30 journalists last year, McGee said that they are getting a lot more national exposure. The footage that Teeples shot in Selma will be shown on C-SPAN some time Monday, then reaired during Black History Month. WSB-TV out of Atlanta is shooting a documentary.

There is a wide variety of people in the group, a Hispanic publication, two Asian publicans and a reporter from the United Kingdom.

And those who came said they were impressed with Selma.