• 70°

Freedom Foundation members target of prejudice in Selma

Dear editor,

On Saturday, February 21, the STJ printed a bit of a rant by Maggie Davies about Mark Duke, head of the Freedom Foundation here in Selma, and the Freedom Foundation in general.

Having lived in Selma over 15 years I have many friends. Some were here when I moved and some have come after me. Since Maggie is among the latter, I won’t dissect her perceived grievances here today. Instead, I’d like to look at the bigger picture. Just what do the people of Selma have against the Freedom Foundation? And on the flip side of the coin, just what do the people of the Freedom Foundation have against Selma? Oddly enough from what I’ve seen, the answer to both questions appears to be the same.

Mark was invited to come to Selma with his organization by JoAnn Bland, who is either currently or formerly associated with our local Voting Rights Museum. Through their contact with her, they were introduced to a number of our more ‘outspoken citizens’ such as J.L. Chestnut, Sam Walker and ‘the activist formerly know as Rose’. Is it any wonder then that they would consider most of the rest of us a bunch of racist separatists? Not really. Is it their fault that, after two years of living here, their perception hasn’t changed? Absolutely. One would have to be blind and deaf not to witness the warmth and friendship that most of Selma’s citizens exhibit towards their neighbors regardless of race. Are we perfect? No. No one is.

Oh sure, we have our loud mouthed yahoos. I just mentioned several of them. On the other hand we have Angel Fire. To their credit, Rose and her bunch are very up front with their divisive hatred. The people of Angel Fire spread their vicious rumors anonymously..

Angel Fire was invited to come to Selma by…. well, by themselves. Via their web site, they have kept people ‘riled up’ about the goings on here in Selma. Unfortunately, they seem to really have it in for Mark Duke and his bunch. They have managed to ‘rile up’ many people in Selma against them. Is it any wonder then that many people here consider the Freedom Foundation to be a bunch of ‘outside agitators’? Not really. Is it the fault of those people that, after two years of sharing our city with them, that perception hasn’t changed? Absolutely.

I have spent a good deal of time with many members of the Freedom Foundation. So far I haven’t found the first one who wasn’t friendly, pleasant and well grounded in the classic Christian tradition.

In other words, they are exactly who they profess to be. Are they perfect? No. No one is.

The people of the Freedom Foundation and the people of Selma who dislike them are similar in many ways. Both are painfully aware that the other believes them to be something they are not. Both wish the other understood them better. Neither wants to take the necessary steps to change their own perceptions. Neither wants to really get to know their new neighbors. Neither trusts the other.

To the people of Selma: Put aside your preconceived notions about the

Freedom Foundation foisted upon you by Angel Fire and those who spread their hatred. Get to know these fine people. You will be surprised at what you find.

To the people of the Freedom Foundation: Put aside your preconceived notions about the citizens of Selma foisted upon you by the radicals who invited you here and those who spread their hatred. Get to know these fine people. You will be surprised at what you find.

Dusty Brown

Selma