Lowndes County, Alabama was the birthplace of the Black Panther Party, which is where we got to hang out today.
We met up with Sheyann Webb Christburg, Mary McDonald, Elbert Means, and John Jackson, who were all growing up during the movement. We met at the old jail in Hayneville, which is where many protesters were brought after their arrest. The most notable of those protesters was Jonathan Daniels.
Jonathan Daniels was a Civil Rights worker from New Hampshire and came down to volunteer in Selma. After requesting more time to stay in Alabama from his seminary school, Daniels and 29 other students and members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee picketed the whites only stores in Fort Deposit, Ala.
All 29 protesters were arrested and brought to the jail in Hayneville. They stayed there from August 14 to August 20 and were finally released without transportation to Selma. They stopped at Varner’s Cash Store, a place that served nonwhites, and called for transport and to get beverages.
The local deputy barred the door and pointed his shotgun at one of the members of the group. Daniels jumped in front of the member and took the bullet, which killed him instantly.
After visiting the jail, we went to see the oldest house in Lowndes County, over 200 years old. We also got to see the house where the idea for the Black Panther Party was born.
The Black Panther Party was an organization that improved the living conditions of people living in Alabama and provided security for people living in Lowndes County. The icon of the panther was chosen so those who couldn’t read easily recognized it.
Before we left Lowndes County, we got to visit the interpretative center, which is a museum and gives the history of Lowndes County.
There was an exhibit of life-size statues from a famous photo, marching along a road. The exhibit was set up so you could find the size of the footprints on the ground and march right along with the statues in the exhibit.
Earlier this morning, we went to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) before we left Montgomery. EJI is a private, nonprofit organization that gives legal representation to those who have experienced unfair and unjust treatment in the legal system.
Currently, their biggest projects are working with children who have been incarcerated into the adult prison system and sentenced as adults. They also work with clients on death row that are innocent and the center has been successful in proving a number of those people innocent.
Later that night, we finally made it to Jackson, Miss., after a few mishaps like leaving Sarah L. at Chic-Fil-A and getting turned around in Meridian.