Monday, December 07, 2015

Author Spotlight



Tia Kelly is cranking out the romantic genre so fast that I can hardly keep up. Her novels and novellas are rich in character and realistic in love.

I have read all of her books in the series of the Wilkerson's, This book was the best out of a series of novels by Tia Kelly. I have read all of her novels and novellas and enjoyed them all. The characters stood out in this particular story. I could visualize the scenes and feel the emotions. Kelly does a wonderful job tying in characters from previous stories. 

I recommend that you read her books in order and you will get to know each character personally. I can't wait for the next novel. Check Tia Kelly out on Facebook and on her website.  Kelly markets herself very well. Her book covers are enticing and the contents are well written.

Biography:
Tia Kelly may be witty and feisty on the outside, but she is a die hard romantic that is always looking for a happy ending while rooting for the underdog. In addition to her love for writing, reading and traveling, Tia loves to kick back with a glass of wine and a good game on her television screen.

Please visit her at http://tiawithapen.wordpress.com/.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

African American Fiction Coming in 2016

African American Fiction  

Coming in 2016




Publication Date: January 05, 2016
Things are falling apart in the Richardson household. Angry arguments between Celine and her husband, Keith, have become routine. She resents that he's working long hours and staying out all night, and he accuses her of not giving him the attention he deserves. Their marriage is at a cross-roads and Celine worries how her 10-year-old daughter, Kassie, will be affected.

But the situation turns devastating when Celine is diagnosed with breast cancer. As her relationship with Keith deteriorates, Celine worries that she'll be left to navigate the difficult process of cancer treatment alone. But comfort and support come in the form of Celine's best friend, Lauren. They've been attached at the hip since they were children and it is Lauren who's there for Celine in her darkest moments. 

Now, Celine will be forced to make tough decisions-about her marriage and otherwise-and for the first time in her life, she wants to give up. Lauren vows to help by any means necessary and makes the kind of sacrifice only a best friend can. But will it be too late?



Publication Date: January 05, 2016
The only thing hotter than Texas is the romance in J. D. Mason's brand-new e-series!

Farrah Hart has made her escape. Running from a violent ex, she finds her way home to Blink, TX. With nothing but the clothes on her back, Farrah hopes to lay low at her abandoned childhood home until she can get back on her feet. But when an eviction notice comes in the most dangerously handsome of packages, Farrah might just need someone to lean on after all...

Jackson Burris can't believe Farrah is in his house. The last thing he ever expected to see was the gorgeous girl all the Texas boys-including him-crushed on years ago, standing in the doorway. But she needs a place to stay that isn't a run-down house, and his place is much cozier, much hotter. But as the nights grow darker with passion, demons from both their pasts close in, and Farrah and Jackson have to give in to love, in order to not break apart.





Publication Date: February 09, 2016
Second House from the Corner centers on the story of Felicia Lyons, a stay-at-home mother of three drowning in the drudgeries of play dates, lost pacifiers and potty training who occasionally wonders what it would be like to escape the demands of motherhood. But when an unexpected phone call threatens to destroy her life, Felicia is forced to return to her childhood home where she must wrestle with an ex-lover and long buried secrets to save the family and home she loves despite the daily challenges.





Publication Date: February 16, 2016
In Listen to the Lambs by Daniel Black, nothing can convince Lazarus Love III to return to the lifestyle of affluence and social status he once knew. Longing for a freedom of the soul that the world of capitalism cannot provide, Lazarus leaves all that he knows--including his wife and children--to achieve the ultimate level of peace and silence living as a homeless man. When his quest causes him to cross paths with four other wanderers, all of whom later call themselves "the family," a shocking, brutal act leaves Lazarus in a dire position and his newfound family must struggle to save him. By doing so, both families--past and present--are redeemed and consequently learn the beauty of sacrificial love.




Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Peter Ducksworth, a Trinidadian widower of English ancestry, retires to Barbados, believing he will find an earthly paradise there. He decides to divide his land among his three daughters while he is alive, his intention not unlike that of King Lear’s who hoped, “That future strife / May be prevented now.” But Lear made the fatal mistake of confusing flattery with love, and so does Ducksworth. Feeling snubbed by his youngest daughter, Ducksworth decides that only after he dies will she receive her portion of the land. In the meantime, he gives his two older daughters their portions, ironically setting in motion the very strife he hoped to prevent.

Beautifully written in elegant prose, this is a novel about greed, resentment, jealousy, betrayal, and romantic love, through which Nunez weaves themes of racism and classism in the postcolonial world of the Caribbean, giving us a diverse cast of characters of African, Indian, Chinese, Syrian/Lebanese, and English ancestry.

Elizabeth Nunez is the award-winning author of eight novels and a memoir. Both Boundaries and Anna In-Between were New York Times Editors’ Choices. Anna In-Between won the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award and was long-listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Nunez also received the 2011 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers and Barnes & Noble, and a NALIS Lifetime Literary Award from the Trinidad & Tobago National Library. She is a Distinguished Professor at Hunter College, CUNY, where she teaches fiction writing. She divides her time between Amityville and Brooklyn, New York.




Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Isolated on an island where two rivers meet, the Lazaretto quarantine hospital is the first stop for immigrants who wish to begin new lives in Philadelphia. The Lazaretto’s black live-in staff forge a strong social community, and when one of them receives permission to get married on the island the mood is one of celebration, particularly since the white staff—save the opium-addicted doctor—are given leave for the weekend. On the eve of the ceremony, a gunshot rings out across the river. A white man has fired at a boat carrying the couple’s friends and family to the island, and the captain is injured. His life lies in the hands of Sylvia, the Lazaretto’s head nurse, who is shocked to realize she knows the patient.

Diane McKinney-Whetstone’s nationally bestselling novel, Tumbling, immersed us into Philadelphia’s black community during the Civil Rights era, and she returns to the city in this new historical novel about a cast of nineteenth-century characters whose colorful lives intersect at the legendary Lazaretto—America’s first quarantine hospital.



Publication Date: May 31, 2016
From New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe comes a seductive, shocking tale of two unhappy women fulfilling their every erotic dream--and finding a desire that kills…

He's successful, kind, and sensitive--the type of man every woman wants. And truck driver Calvin Ramsey just loves women--especially the lonely, unappreciated ones he meets online, like Lola Poole. His deceitful ex-wife taught him that women really appreciate someone who cares about their deepest feelings and problems. Since Lola always gives more than she gets, Calvin longs to show her the best of everything. And when he gives her the ultimate parting gift, just like he did his wife and all the others, he'll love Lola best of all…

Lola Poole is so done putting her life on hold for her selfish relatives' needs. Now thanks to online dating and a sizzling parade of hungry lovers, she and her unhappily-married best friend, Joan, are getting all the sexy fun they missed out on. Even better, handsome, dependable Calvin looks like he might be the whole irresistible potential-husband package. Until oh-so-right starts going all-the-way wrong. And Lola must uncover the truth and take control before this fatal fantasy finishes her…




Publication Date: May 03, 2016
Solemn Redvine is a precocious Mississippi girl who senses a nearby baby may be her half-sibling: the outcome of her father's mistakes with a married woman who lives in their trailer park. After Solemn witnesses a man throw the baby down a community well, she struggles to understand the event, leaving her forever changed.


As Solemn finds refuge in fantasies of stardom as well as friendships with her brother's wife and a nearby girl, the ill-fated baby's doomed mother disappears without a trace. Solemn remains trapped by connections to the missing other woman and an honest cop who suspects more to the story than others on the small local police force want to see. When her father's next mistake - a robbery - lands Solemn in a group home for troubled girls, she meets a Chicago delinquent who wants to escape. There, Solemn must face the truth of who she really is and what she is really made of.



Publication Date: May 24, 2016
Lucy Price is living the American dream. She has been married to her successful husband and businessman, Edward Price for a year and couldn’t be happier until she learns that Eddie is a dangerously ruthless man, heavily involved in illegal activities that threaten not only her marriage, but her life. Eddie abruptly disappears, but not before warning Lucy that if she wants to keep breathing she'd better keep her mouth shut. Six months later, word of her husband surfaces when she learns that he is presumed murdered in a small Texas town, apparently killed by his “wife”, Marlowe Price.

Marlowe is no stranger to trouble. An outcast in her own community for being one of those "hoodoo women," who can curse you or cast you under her beguiling spell, Marlowe is shunned at every turn. Six months ago, a whirlwind romance in Mexico led Marlowe to marry the man she thought she’d spend the rest of her life with. For Marlowe and Eddie, there is no such thing as trouble in paradise. But late one night, when Marlowe witnesses her husband putting the body of a dead man in the trunk of his car, the illusion comes crashing down around her and she knows she has to move fast before the devil comes calling once again.

Now, Lucy and Marlowe must come together to find out where and who Eddie really is, and help each other through the threat he poses. There's nothing more dangerous than a woman scorned...except for two women scorned who are willing to put their pasts behind them and band together to take one bad man down...


Publication Date: May 10, 2016
The Book of Harlan opens with the courtship of Harlan’s parents and his 1917 birth in Macon, Georgia. After his prominent minister grandfather dies, Harlan and his parents move to Harlem, where he becomes a musician. Soon, Harlan and his best friend, trumpeter Lizard Robbins, are lured across the Atlantic Ocean to perform at a popular cabaret in the Parisian enclave of Montmartre--affectionately referred to as “The Harlem of Paris” by black American musicians.

When the City of Light falls under Nazi occupation, Harlan and Lizard are thrown into Buchenwald, the notorious concentration camp in Weimar, Germany. The experience irreparably changes the course of Harlan’s life. Based on exhaustive research and told in McFadden’s mesmeric prose, The Book of Harlan skillfully blends the stories of McFadden’s familial ancestors with those of real and imagined characters.

Bernice L. McFadden is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including SugarLoving DonovanGathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazineand was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the BCALA. McFadden lives in Brooklyn, New York.



Publication Date: May 10, 2016
The author of the critically acclaimed A Cupboard Full of Coats makes her hardcover debut with a provocative and timely novel about an emotionally devastated mother’s struggle to understand her teenage son’s death, and her search for meaning and hope in the wake of incomprehensible loss.

The unimaginable has happened to Marcia Williams. Her bright and beautiful sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, has been brutally murdered. Consumed by grief and rage, she must bridle her dark feelings and endure something no mother should ever have to experience: she must go to court for the trial of the killer—another teenage boy—accused of taking her son’s life.

How could her son be dead? Ryan should have been safe—he wasn’t the kind of boy to find himself on the wrong end of a knife carried by a dangerous young man like Tyson Manley. But as the trial proceeds, Marcia finds her beliefs and assumptions challenged as she learns more about Ryan’s death and Tyson’s life, including his dysfunctional family. She also discovers troubling truths about her own. As the strain of Ryan’s death tests their marriage, Lloydie, her husband, pulls farther away, hiding behind a wall of secrets that masks his grief, while Marcia draws closer to her sister, who is becoming her prime confidant.

One person seems to hold the answers—and the hope—Marcia needs: Tyson’s scared young girlfriend, Sweetie. But as this anguished mother has learned, nothing in life is certain. Not anymore.

A beautiful, engrossing novel that illuminates some of the most important and troubling issues of our time, The Motheris a moving portrait of love, tragedy, and survival—and the aftershocks from a momentary act of cruel violence that transforms the lives of everyone it touches.



Publication Date: June 07, 2016
In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young's wonderful life great friends, family, and successful career- aren't enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. 

Like Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, I Almost Forgot About You will show legions of readers what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to the world.

NAACP nominee and USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins returns to the town of Henry Adams with a story of family, friendship, love, and second chances.



Publication Date: June 28, 2016
In Henry Adams, Kansas, you can’t start over without stirring things up . . .

Many a good woman has had to leave a no-good man, but how many of them took a back-seat to his 600-lb. hog? On her own for the first time, Genevieve Gibbs is ecstatic, even if certain people preferred the doormat version of Ms. Gibbs. Finding someone who appreciates the “new” her has only just hit Gen’s to-do list when T.C. Barbour appears in her life.

A tiny Kansas town is a far cry from his native Oakland, California, but it’s just the change T. C. needs. While helping his divorced nephew acclimate to single fatherhood, T. C. lands a gig driving a limo for the most powerful woman in Henry Adams. It’s a great way to meet people—and one in particular has already made the job worthwhile. All it takes is a short trip from the airport for Genevieve to snag T.C.’s attention for good.

But it wouldn’t be Henry Adams without adding more drama to the mix. When Gen’s ex Riley returns with his hog in tow, it sets off a chain of events that can ruin everything—unless the residents pull together once again to save the day.


Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Charlene "Charlie" Mack is a PI in Detroit. Born and raised in the city that America forgot, Charlie has built a highly respected private investigations firm through hard work, smart choices, and relentless ambition. Her team of investigators are highly skilled and trustworthy, but she secretly struggles with her sexual orientation and a mother with early-onset Alzheimer's. When Charlie and her crack team head to Birmingham, Alabama following the trail of a missing person, what should be a routine case turns into a complex chase for answers. Shady locals and a southern patriarch with dark secrets dating back forty years obscure their path. It seems like everyone has something to hide, including Charlie. When the case turns deadly with a double murder, and Charlie is attacked on a quiet neighborhood street, everything suddenly becomes personal. Who can Charlie trust, and will she ever solve the riddles of the Magic City?

A Detroit native, Cheryl A. Head now lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, where she navigated a successful career as a writer, television producer, filmmaker, broadcast executive, and media funder. Her debut novel, Long Way Home: A World War II Novel, was a 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award finalist in both the African American Literature and Historical Fiction categories. When not writing fiction, she's a passionate blogger and user of Twitter, and she regularly consults on a wide range of diversity issues.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Book Review:For Your Love by Beverly Jenkins






I have been reading the “Blessing” series since the first book and I encourage you to start at the beginning of the series; it picks up from where the last book left off. I really love this book series. Jenkins keeps your interest with a wonderful story line, humor and wit in the ‘Blessings’ series and you will want to keep turning the pages to find out what is going to happen next to these well-developed characters that touch the heart in Henry Adams, Kansas.

Henry Adams is the fictional town founded by Black people in the 1870’s. But, Jenkins is always giving a history lesson with background information we can research and read for ourselves. The characters are well developed, strong positive characters with lots of love and the plots keep you interested. This equal’s excellent reading.

I look forward to the next book about Henry Adams, Kansas. I get excited every time I learn a new book is coming out. I hope Beverly Jenkins continues to write about these characters. I am never disappointed with any of her novels. I look forward to the next installment!


Monday, February 23, 2015

Bloody Sunday

In honor of black history month and the fact that we live in a very historical town...
we are posting some history on Marion, Alabama.  Marion is celebrating "Where It All Began"



Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.

During January and February, 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper.  In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7.

Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.

“Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world.  Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the final successful march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had hoped for. Yet Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act; it highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/bloody-sunday-selma-alabama-march-7-1965#sthash.94LxmBDk.dpuf
Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.

During January and February, 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper.  In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7.

Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.

“Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world.  Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the final successful march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had hoped for. Yet Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act; it highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/bloody-sunday-selma-alabama-march-7-1965#sthash.94LxmBDk.dpuf
Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.

During January and February, 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper.  In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7.

Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.

“Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world.  Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the final successful march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had hoped for. Yet Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act; it highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/bloody-sunday-selma-alabama-march-7-1965#sthash.94LxmBDk.dpuf
“Bloody Sunday” on March 7, 1965, when Alabama Governor George Wallace sent state troopers to attack civil rights protesters crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the triumphant march from Selma to Montgomery that began on March 21 and ended March 25 with King speaking in front of 25,000 people at the state capitol.

Jimmie Lee Jackson, the activist whose brutal murder in nearby Marion at the hands of law enforcement helped spark the Selma marches.

Vera Jenkins Booker was the nurse who attend Civil Rights martyr Jimmie Lee Jackson the night he was shot. She also joined the marches and voter registration drives.

Vera Jenkins Booker was the nurse who attend CivilVera Jenkins Booker was the night supervisor on duty at Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma, Ala., the night Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot by an Alabama state trooper who followed him into a restaurant and shot him at close range as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather. The date was Feb. 18, 1965, and as those who have seen the movie Selma already know, it was the first in a chain of events that would focus the eyes of the world on the brutality of racism. The 26-year-old Baptist deacon was among those marching in the tiny town of Marion in protest of the discriminatory voter registration practices of the day; he had tried unsuccessfully to register for four years, and the struggle eventually cost him his life.

"He was in so much pain, and when I pulled up the shirt, that was when I saw a piece of gut the size of a small grapefruit," Booker recalls. She tended the wound as they waited for the doctor. "I said, 'You gonna be all right,' and he kinda calmed down."

She cared for him throughout the week, and through two surgeries. "He told me he was home from the service, and he said to me, 'I got a little girl, and I'm going to marry her mother.' I said, 'That's the thing to do, marry that little girl.' I was sure he was going to live."

His death eight days later was the match that ignited an already smoldering civil rights movement, kindling Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery marches, a summer of nonstop protest around the country, and in August, the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Those marches are the focus of an ambitious series of anniversary events in Selma and Montgomery that have already begun. At their peak, on the March 7 anniversary of Bloody Sunday, President Barack Obama is scheduled to make an appearance; other big names to help mark the event include Bernice King, who will be reading her father's seminal "How long? Not long" speech from the statehouse steps on March 25 in Montgomery, at the same time and spot as her father did.

The complicated history has led organizers to cluster the events around three important events: Bloody Sunday, when the marchers first tried to cross the Edmund Pettus bridge and were beaten back; Turn back Tuesday, two days later, when they tried again, met the police and kneeled to pray; and the week of March 20-25, when a court order and the U.S. National Guard made a successful march possible. There's lots going on in both places throughout the months of February and March, but highlights are clustered in Selma around March 7th, and in Montgomery around March 20-25. For a complete lineup of events, see their respective websites: http://selma50iwasthere.com and http://dreammarcheson.com.

"Walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge is something every American needs to do; it literally puts you in the footsteps of history," he said. "When you get to the crest you have to look ahead and imagine what it would be like to face police with dogs and masks and teargas. I don't know how many of us would be brave enough to walk into that but there were people who were."

But what really makes the place special for a visitor is the people, he said. "You can't go to the Alamo and talk to someone who fought at the siege; you can't go to Gettysburg and talk to someone who fought in the Civil War. But you can go to these places and talk to people who were part of a heroic movement. There's still people who were foot soldiers, leaders, people who took part. It's so hard to find heroes in this world that we're in – and I think these people were heroes."

People like Dr. Gwen Patton, a diminutive woman of 72 with a razor-sharp analysis, who describes herself as an archivist-activist. Organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and others, she began helping with the voting rights movement at the age of 8. It was around then that her grandparents turned their home into a citizenship school and began teaching neighbors how to pass the literacy test. Beginning as a child, she also worked alongside Rufus Lewis, whom she calls the Father of the Voting Rights Movement, until his death at 93.

"Just to have the courage to go down to register to vote was a feat in itself, because you knew you were going to be insulted if not assaulted," she said. "The registrar's office would have a sign out that said out to lunch – and they really were! – and there were only two days you could go down and register. It was so arbitrary and so mean."

She was on the front lines of those marches, and she's quick to point out that the movement began long before Selma and continues to this day. "This should not be a celebration; it should be an observance of what happened in '65 –and that which preceded it to make it possible, and that which happened afterward to carry it forward."

Like Patton, Dr. Howard Robinson, archivist at Alabama State University's National Center for the Study of Civil Rights in Montgomery, was quick to point out that the battle for voting rights is far from over.

"In 2015 there are still people who are challenging that right –for example the Voter ID laws and other strategies to reduce the number of people who are able to vote in the United States. These are 21st century tactics to reduce the opportunities for people to participate in the political process, and attacks on the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"What I think this celebration is, more than being able to celebrate a past accomplishment, is a reminder that we are really have to be vigilant about the right to vote that was established a half century ago."

Jimmie Lee Jackson - Civil Rights Activist (1938–1965)

Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed by an Alabama state trooper in 1965; his death inspired a civil rights demonstration that led to the Voting Rights Act.

Synopsis

Born in Alabama in 1938, Jimmie Lee Jackson became part of the Civil Rights Movement as a young man. After participating in a peaceful protest in Alabama in February 1965, he was shot by a state trooper. He died a few days later. His death inspired a voting rights march; the violence at that protest—known as "Bloody Sunday"—made more Americans favor civil rights, and made it possible to pass 1965's Voting Rights Act.

Early Life

On December 16, 1938, Jimmie Lee Jackson was born in Marion, Alabama, a small town located near Selma. After fighting in the Vietnam War and spending time in Indiana, he returned to his hometown. There, he made about $6 a day as a laborer and woodcutter. Jackson became a church deacon—the youngest one at his Baptist church—and fathered a daughter. Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, he also tried to vote for the first time in his life. He made several attempts to register as a voter, but never got past the many hurdles that had been set up to keep African Americans from casting ballots.

Shooting and Death

On February 18, 1965, Jackson took part in a peaceful night march in Marion, held to protest the arrest of James Orange, a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. However, even nonviolent demonstrations were opposed by the segregationists who held power in Alabama. That night, the town's streetlights were turned off; under the cover of darkness, police and state troopers attacked the protesters with clubs, sending them fleeing in different directions.

Still pursued by officers, Jackson and other demonstrators went into a restaurant called Mack's Café. There, Jackson was shot in the stomach by James Bonard Fowler, a state trooper. Witnesses recounted that Jackson had been protecting his mother and 82-year-old grandfather from the troopers. Fowler claimed he had been acting in self-defense, trying to keep Jackson from grabbing his gun.

The injured Jackson was first taken to a local hospital, then sent to a hospital in Selma. He lingered for a week before dying from his infected wound on February 26, 1965. He was only 26 years old. Though Al Lingo, head of the state troopers, had sent an arrest warrant to Jackson while he was in the hospital, Fowler had faced no punishment or disciplinary action, and was allowed to continue in his job.


Civil Rights Martyr

Jackson's shooting was condemned by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement such as Martin Luther King Jr.—who had visited Jackson in the hospital—John Lewis and James Bevel. On March 3, King spoke at Jackson's funeral, where he said that Jackson had been "murdered by the brutality of every sheriff who practices lawlessness in the name of law."

Jackson's death also inspired civil rights leaders to hold the Selma to Montgomery March on March 7, 1965. There was a violent response awaiting these demonstrators as well: When they arrived at Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge, police used tear gas and batons against them. Images of the violence—the protest came to be known as "Bloody Sunday"—were shared across the country, making the public more supportive of the civil rights struggle.

Two weeks after "Bloody Sunday," another march set out from Selma. By the time the marchers arrived in Montgomery, there was a crowd of 25,000 people. The Voting Rights Act became law in August 1965. The legislation fought the discriminatory measures that had kept African Americans like Jackson from voting.