Monday, March 16, 2015

Selma Alabama, 1965, According to The Rev Robert Leonard Powers

"Basement in Selma" Franklin McMahon (1965) - illustration for Look Magazine [RLP standing at center]

I traveled to Selma Alabama this past weekend to meet my two older sisters Sarah and Rachel, to witness the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. We went, because in 1965 our father, Robert L Powers, answered Martin Luther Kings' call for white clergy members to joined the black protestors in a march to Montgomery. I've posted about my father in the pasthe was an ordained Episcopalian Priest, although by the time I was born he was no longer wearing the collar, and was instead practicing psychology. My father passed away two years ago, and my sisters and I went to memorialize him. I have been thinking about what I might say about our time in Selma, about my father, about race, equality, and voting rights in America (no small beer in that list). But yesterday my brother-in-law reminded me that five years ago I asked my father to email me an account, in his own words, of his time in Selma. It took me only a few seconds to find after being reminded of it. The comedy (which I think my dad would have appreciated) is that my sisters and I spent our weekend together struggling to remember what we could of our fathers visit: when did he arrive? how long did he stay? who did he meet and see? The discovery of his email is exciting for me, but I wanted to share it as a reminder to those who have not been to Selma, this is a jubilee year, just because you missed being there when President Obama spoke (my sisters and I did too - we made our plans well in advance of Obama and arrived to late to see the President), does not mean you have missed taking part. Even if you father or mother wasn't in Selma 50 years ago, it is never too late to answer King's call. I am very happy my sisters and I did. What follows is my father's unedited email, sent to me on March 12th, 2010.