Column/Selma through younger eyes

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 8, 2007

This past week I had the opportunity to see Selma through a different pair of eyes – two pair of eyes to be precise.

My 12-year-old niece, Alex, and the daughter of a family friend, Audrey, 9, came to stay with me for a few days.

Children have great enthusiasm for everything, so seeing the city from their perspective gave me some insight into this area that I now call home.

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Just seeing Pepsi signs all over town impressed them.

The YMCA where we went swimming one morning was not like any

other YMCA they’d ever seen. After all, “it has two pools and three slides!”

During one day of their visit, we drove to the Lowndes County Interpretive Center in White Hall.

Both have studied some about the civil rights movement, but neither of the girls knew that much about it.

If you haven’t been to the Interpretive Center, let me encourage you to do so. It is a state-of-the-art facility, complete with a film that provides an overview to the events of March 1965.

There are interactive exhibits throughout the museum, designed to be touched, opened or listened to.

A group of seniors from Selma allowed us to join their tour (thanks)!

And we were welcomed by Tina Smiley, who graciously gave the girls their own “personal” tour, answering their questions and asking them what they had learned.

I was impressed with the facility, but I was equally proud of the girls, whose questions were insightful and brought up interesting issues. Things like, “were the state troopers wrong in what they did on the bridge on Bloody Sunday?”

Alex is from San Antonio and has often visited the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park, a working ranch that is located nearby. So, she was able to make a connection with the fact that Johnson supported the Voting Rights Act.

And Audrey will be studying Alabama history next year, so the visit gave her a little headstart on her studies.

We also enjoyed a couple of local restaurants in the city and, again, it’s refreshing to see things through the eyes of a child.

We all hold a special place in our hearts for the places we visited on summer vacation as children.

Because Selma was part of Alex and Audrey’s summer vacation, it will stick out in their minds as a place where they had

good time, ate some good food and maybe even learned a little.

And I got to see the city through a fresh set of eyes and enjoy parts of it I haven’t even noticed before.

Tammy Leytham is editor of The Selma Times-Journal.