50 years later, Selma has yet to overcome - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

50 years later, Selma has yet to overcome

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Selma, Ala., a little port town on the Alabama River, changed the course of history.

But somewhere along the way, the people who live there got left behind.

"When you come into Selma, it's a little like you are coming into the past," John Gainey, a resident of Selma explained.

On the way into the city, visitors pass under the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named after Edmund Pettus, a U.S. Senator, a general in the Confederate Army and Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.

Some that live in Selma call the bridge a symbol of the oppression that still exists in the city today.

Others do not agree.

"We support everybody's right to commemorate their heroes. If you don't like our heroes, don't come over here," Todd Kiscaden said.

Kiscaden was one of the few in Selma that did not celebrate the Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

He said it is not his history, but something else is.

"The first Ku Klux Klan is the modern iteration of the neighbor hood watch," Kiscaden said.

With remnants of racial tensions, Selma's struggle is still clear.

60 percent of the children in Selma live under the poverty line. That figure is 20 percent in La Crosse.

The unemployment rate is double the national average at 13.8 percent, more than double La Crosse's unemployment rate.

"You've got a town that looks a little too much like Selma did 50 years ago in that you've got a white community and a black community and they do not mix together very often," Gainey said.

Selma's schools are a prime example.

The public high school is 99 percent African American while the private K-12 school, Morgan Academy is almost entirely white.

"People are just trying to make Selma look good but behind closed doors it's really not," Pearl King, 14, of Selma said.

"There's a lot of hatred. Still blacks and blacks kill each other and white and whites or black and whites. It's just a lot of stuff that goes on for no reason," classmate Tykeria Edwards continued.

Just under 20,000 live in Selma, yet the murder rate is five times the national average.

"We don't have the same depth of discrimination we once had, but still we have not arrived," Reverend Frederick Douglas Reese said.

While the nation gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of 50 years ago, it seems Selma has yet to overcome.

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