Bridge Crossing Jubilee, a commemoration of Bloody Sunday
Selma, Alabama, was known as the Queen City of the Black Belt in the days of cotton plantations. Its history spans from the Civil War (Battle of Selma) to Civil Rights (Bloody Sunday of 1965).
Selma is also a wonderful representative of America’s Deep South. The town is quiet, stately and beautiful. There are no interstates going through Selma so it feels somewhat isolated and preserved. The Spanish moss on the live oak trees in the old cemetery, the family owned stores, the slow pace and the politeness of people’s interactions give a sense of old Southern charm. Visitors are taken back in time to when there weren’t many cars on the streets and architecture was still driven by aesthetics and not efficiency.
After several visits to Selma, I moved there in 2008 to start a photographic project about modern-day Selma and its residents. I carefully chose that time frame because Barack Obama was running for President and I felt that the events that transpired in Selma in 1965 had a direct connection to his campaign.
As I was getting to know the town and its people, I also could not ignore the decay and abandonment in some of the areas of the town’s classic downtown and in other historic areas. Selma is in the heart of the central Alabama area called The Black Belt, home to 9 of the 10 poorest counties in Alabama. The area’s fragility in these tough economic times gives me another reason to pursue this documentary.
After spending a year in Selma, I continued to make trips there. I also visited nearby towns and rural communities that contributed to Selma’s prosperity during the cotton days and helped highlight it during the Civil Rights era.
Selma is an iconic town of America’s Deep South.
I am a photographer at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I studied photography and darkroom techniques with José Betancourt at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and participated in a workshop with Eugene Richards.