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Junior deputies take walking tour of history

Four young girls stood in a makeshift jail in the National Voting Rights Museum, eyes fixed and fingers pointing at a mug shot of a young man in the 1960s.

The charges that led to the imprisonment of the man, and several others, seemed absurd enough to laugh at. No tag lights. Vagrancy. Parading without permit.

It’s an impossible thought for those girls now, but it was reality for several black people before events that shook up the South, and eventually, the world.

Thirteen students in the Junior Deputies program of the Greene County Sheriff’s Department took a walking tour of that history Saturday.

“We not only want them to be good stewards of our community, we want them to be educated as far as the struggle of how we got to be a black county government,” said Deputy Elzora Fluker. “By bringing them here, they got to see some of the things that they have not experienced as young people in our county.”

Greene County had the sixth highest percentage of black population among any county in the United States, according to the 2000 Census. Nearly eight in 10 people that live there are black. It is also the smallest county in Alabama by population, with roughly 10,000 people.

The visit took students beyond textbook lessons, Fluker said, and allowed them to walk the same streets as iconic civil rights figures.

It also gave them a few more role models.

“All the people that marched helped out and stood up and weren’t actually scared to do it,” said Rotishaka Powell, 16.

Sam Walker, a consultant with the museum, believes tours like this help students link past events with current effects.

“This is important because they get to learn about their history,” said Walker. “They make the connection between what happened to people back then and how it contributed so much to the election of Barack Obama.”

The program is in its ninth month of operation. All the children were chosen through an application process. Fluker, Greene County Sheriff Ison Thomas and members of a local committee reviewed the applications and selected the participants. District Judge Lillie Jones-Osbourne also recommends students to the program, Fluker said.