Church and Marching

We learned a new way of worshipping this morning at Mt. Nebo Missionary Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Miss.

Mt. Nebo is a small country church with a very energetic congregation. Throughout the service, “Yeah” and “Amen” could be heard from various members engaging with the pastor and deacons that spoke.

Mt. Nebo choir singing at the church service on Sunday.

Mt. Nebo choir singing at the church service on Sunday.

A lot of us were looking forward to hearing the choir sing. They were a small choir of about ten members but they were strong in the music and most of the congregation joined in.

Pastor M.C. Thompson, Jr. presided over the service and welcomed us into his congregation. The theme of his sermon was the “Three Who Paid the Ultimate Price,” meaning James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner as honored at this weekend’s 50th Annual Mississippi Civil Rights Martyrs Memorial Service. 

Both men are deacons of the church.

Both men are deacons of the church.

The pastor was very engaged with his sermon and even broke into song as he concluded it. The piano player and drummer gave him a melody to match his words and the congregation started clapping along, us included.

After a group photo outside of the church, we drove to Selma, Ala. where we met with Joanne Bland, Lynda Lowery, and Annie Pearl Avery, all Civil Rights era workers.

Left to right: Joanne Bland, Annie Pearl Avery and Lynda Lowery.

Left to right: Joanne Bland, Annie Pearl Avery and Lynda Lowery.

All three shared their experiences in the Selma marches of 1963-64, including Bloody Sunday and Turnaround Tuesday. They were also jailed in Selma for marching.

When the crowd of over 2,000 people marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, police told them go back. The leader of Lowery’s section told them to get down on their knees and pray, so they did.

Then they heard gunfire, Lowery said. Someone was pulling back on the collar of her dress and then she bit the hand that was also holding her lapel. The person pulling her called her the ‘n-word’ twice and then hit her twice above her right eye.

She was then chased into the tear gas and she fell. When she woke up, she was on a stretcher that was being placed in a hearse, but people were still running across the bridge so Lowery got up and ran across too.

Joanne Bland gave us a tour around Selma. We stopped at the Brown Chapel Church where the first march started and marched over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the rain.

Once again, we found ourselves taking the same path that thousands of others took during March 1963 in Selma, Ala.

Once again, we found ourselves taking the same path that thousands of others took during March 1963 in Selma, Ala.

Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt are producing a movie, “Selma” in the town and we accidentally walked onto the set of the movie after crossing the bridge and movie security guards asked us to leave. We apologized and started singing, “Ain’t gonna let no security turn me around,” one of the freedom songs we learned.

Also while touring Selma, the bus driver took a turn down a street that was blocked off by police at the opposite end. We learned that a 3-point-turn is not possible with a large charter bus on a small street. If you do try it, you just might take a chunk of light pole back home with you, plus a bent mirror and almost backing into a church. The mirror was fixed after we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and we returned safely to our hotel.

We hit a light pole in Selma trying to do a 3-point-turn on a small street.

We hit a light pole in Selma trying to do a 3-point-turn on a small street.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Church and Marching

  1. Hi, Jordan,

    I am really enjoying reading your blog and following the trip through your reporting, commentary, and photography! I especially appreciate your blend of seriousness and humor, learning about how your and your fellow and sister students are experiencing these amazing encounters.

    Write on!
    Colette Hyman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s