Gallery more like time portal for John Lewis

Published 10:16 pm Saturday, February 14, 2015

It’s was a moment that is hard to put into words. I used “transcendental” in a conversation with a reporter here at the newspaper, pulling out my dictionary to make sure that was an actual word.

Whatever word you want to use to describe it, Saturday was a powerful day, another career highlight in several so far this year.

On Saturday evening, I had a sit-down interview with U.S. Rep. John Lewis.

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It was an interview that I prepared for almost the entire week. However, Lewis was so a great storyteller that I didn’t have to ask many questions as he shared his memories from Bloody Sunday, a march he led at age 25 with the Rev. Hosea Williams.

But the moment I’ve referred to happened before I ask my first question.

In looking over Spider Martin’s iconic images from Bloody Sunday, Lewis first read a quote from President Lyndon B. Johnson in calling for the Voting Rights Act in his “We Shall Overcome” speech: “At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.”

Lewis shared with his staff that the quote, delivered eight days after he had his skull fractured on Bloody Sunday by a state trooper’s nightstick, was one of his favorites.

Just a few feet away hang several images featuring Lewis. He paused at one showing him and Williams crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, pointing to his 25-year-old self and asks himself reflectively, “Who’s that boy?”

The soft-spoken comment spoken to no one in particular left me with goose bumps.

Lewis would go on to look around the gallery, remembering people photographed from marches that happened 50 years ago next month.

He commented on a photo of a beaming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King in Montgomery,” They look so young.”

Lewis would go on to talk in detail about his memories from Bloody Sunday and his time in Selma, the Voting Rights Act, the election on Barack Obama as the country’s first black President and much more.

Lewis will be one of many Voting Rights leaders featured in a upcoming commemorative edition The Selma Times-Journal is working on.

The edition will be available Sunday, March 1.

The Spider Martin gallery will be opened at the ArtsRevive Carneal Building through March 28 on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

I would encourage everyone in Selma to go by and visit this exhibit over the next few weekends, even take a friend or family members with you.