Selma march: History in a photographic form
By Tesh Yana
How much do millennials know of the 1965 civil rights movement that led to the recognition of the Voting Rights Act? That movement carried a great deal of weight for the American people – white or black. It encouraged the minds of white people to accept black people as equal human beings. Black people endured incredible hardships, sometimes death, to get this recognition.
I have not experienced prejudice and cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been in previous generations. While watching the movie “Freedom Riders” in my Intercultural class, I was astonished by the courage and determination of the riders. I asked myself if I would have done the same thing; I don’t know the answer to that.
However the struggle for freedom runs deep in my blood. I am from Ethiopia, the only country never to be colonized by the western world. The first Italian-Ethiopian war lasted from 1895-1896 and the second war was from 1935 -1936. It all ended with Ethiopia’s triumph. I associate the Selma march with the battle of Adwa, the place where Ethiopia defeated the Italian army for the second and final time. It carries a great deal of pride to me and the whole of Africa.
As a student in photography, I was given a final assignment to create a photographic project. I chose to photograph the reenactment of the Selma march. I drove seven hours to Selma and back. I wanted to photograph this historic event that was attended by over 80,000 people. People of all faiths, sexual orientations and races came to remember the great Selma march. I want to show this generation and the next the solidarity that exists in addition to honoring the “Original 50” heroes. It was an experience I would not trade for anything.