Our day began with an eye opening tour from Frank White, a member of the historic First African Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. This church and many community members were affected by the event that came to be known as Bloody Tuesday, an event that is left out of the commonly taught civil rights narrative.
In 1964, Tuscaloosa’s black community was disheartened to find that their newly built courthouse contained segregated bathrooms and water fountains. Reverend T.Y. Rogers took action and organized a peaceful protest.
On June 9th people filled the First African Baptist Church in preparation to march to the courthouse. As they began leaving for the march tear gas was launched through the church’s stained glass windows, and when people tried to leave the building they were met with police batons, bricks, and rocks. They were presented with two choices: stay in a room filled with tear gas, or submit to violence and/or arrest.
Thirty-three men, women, and children were hospitalized that day and ninety-four people were arrested.
Today our immersion group walked the five blocks between the church and the courthouse in peace and were humbled by our access. Our hearts go out to the people who were never able to take those steps, to the Tuscaloosans who courageously put their lives at risk by standing up to injustice.
Our hearts go out to all of today’s poc protestors who sacrifice their lives for justice, for a better nation.