Dream Team: Three of the six Morgan County students who belong to the Madison-Morgan Boys and Girls Club, who traced the iconic route during the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s riskiest protest march from selma to Montgomery to protest discriminatory voting laws.
Top: Bralon Hill, Middle: Jarod Sanders and Bottom: TJ Allen
Photos Special to the Citizen
By Tia Lynn Lecorchick
Biking one of the most infamous civil rights march routes of all time helped bring American history to life for The Dream Team, six Morgan County students who belong to the Madison-Morgan Boys and Girls Club. The six, Timothy Allen, Devin Bryans, Damien Bryans, Bralon Hill, Emmaus Williams, and Jarod Sanders, traced the iconic route during the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s riskiest protest march from Selma to Montgomery to protest discriminatory voting laws.
Three of the students especially took the experience to heart: Bralen Hill, TJ Allen, Jarod Sanders. “As these young men reach voting age, they will undoubtedly look back and better understand the struggles that accompanied the right to vote,” said Nancy Vaughan, a board member of the Boys and Girls Club. “And for this Boys & Girls Club board member who really enjoyed getting to know Bralon, TJ and Jarod, it was a reminder to not take that privilege for granted either!”
On February 28, they traveled to Selma to travel this historic path on their bikes. They are a part of the “Dream Team”, a youth program through the Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club, and coached by Neil Walker, Educational Director for the club. They spent that Saturday retracing the route led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. protesting the illegal and discriminatory voting restrictions for African-Americans.
The journey, sponsored by the Montgomery Bicycle Club, retraced the march from the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge to the Capitol Building in Montgomery where Dr. King spoke to a crowd of 25,000 people fifty years ago. Along the way, the riders stopped at the Lowndes Interpretive Center that is near the site of the historic “Tent City” and showcases the March. According to Boys and Girls Club leaders, the trip not only gave the students a better understanding of the past and appreciation for the present, but tools to make good decisions in the future.
“For three young men who are members of the Madison-Morgan County Boys & Girls Club, the 50th Anniversary Selma to Montgomery March will have even greater meaning,” said Nancy Vaughan, of the Madison-Morgan Boys and Girls Club.
According to Bralon Hill, a freshman at Morgan County High School and football player, the ride helped him better understand how committed those marchers 50 years ago had to have been to make this journey, and to not take voting rights for granted. “For this young man whose favorite subject is social studies, the ride was a wonderful opportunity for him to experience such an historic event,” said Vaughan.
According to TJ Allen, who proudly wore his t-shirt from the ride, he reflected on the hills how hard it must have been for all those marchers to walk the 54-mile distance on Highway 80 to Montgomery. “We dare say that this Morgan County football player didn’t let those hills get him down. TJ has been a part of Boys & Girls Club for about two years and credits the afterschool program with helping him academically,’ said Vaughan. Jarod Sanders, a sixth grader at Morgan County Middle School, said that the ride helped him better realize what conditions must have been like fifty years ago and what struggles the marchers faced. Jarod plays small forward for his basketball team and is joining the golf team this spring.
“His father always reminds him there is no ‘I’ in team and to do what he needs to do. Good advice to live by!” remarked Vaughan. “It’s important that we continue to celebrate the things Dr. King stood for. The very right to vote was made possible by Dr. King’s sacrifice and and the sacrifices of all the people who were a part of this march. It was a different day and time back then and we want young people to understand that this march is partly responsible for the freedom and liberties they have today,” explained Walker.
Vaughan hopes experiences like this will further enrich the lives of Boys and Girls Club members. The Club Teen Center at Morgan County High School is coordinated by Sheila Sanders and Cedric Cotton. “The center is busy each afternoon with not only academic support but enrichment activities which are a lot of fun and emphasize giving back to the community,’ said Vaughn.