The Shadow of Selma evaluates the 1965 civil rights campaign in Selma, Alabama, the historical memory of the campaign's marches, and the continuing relevance of and challenges to the Voting Rights Act. The contributors present Selma not just as a keystone event but, much like Ferguson today, as a transformative place: a supposedly unimportant location that became the focal point of epochal historical events. By shifting the focus from leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. to the thousands of unheralded people who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge--and the networks that undergirded and opposed them--this innovative volume considers the campaign's long-term impact and its place in history.
The volume recalls the historical currents that surrounded Selma, discussing grassroots activism, the role of President Lyndon B. Johnson during the struggle for the Voting Rights Act, and the political reaction to Selma at home and abroad. Using Ava DuVernay's 2014 Hollywood film as a stepping stone, the editors bring together various essays that address the ways media--from television and newspaper coverage to "race beat" journalism--represented and reconfigured Selma. The contributors underline the power of misrepresentation in shaping popular memory and in fueling a redemptive narrative that glosses over ongoing racial problems. Finally, the volume traces the fifty-year legacy of the Voting Rights Act. It reveals the many subtle and overt methods by which opponents of racial equality attempted to undo the act's provisions, with a particular focus on the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision that eliminated sections of the act designed to prevent discrimination.
Taken together, the essays urge readers not to be blind to forms of discrimination and injustice that continue to shape inequalities in the United States. They remind us that while today's obstacles to racial equality may look different from a literacy test or a grimfaced Alabama state trooper, they are no less real.
Contributors: Alma Jean Billingslea Brown Ben Houston Peter Ling Mark McLay Tony Badger Clive Webb Aniko Bodroghkozy Mark Walmsley George Lewis Megan Hunt Devin Fergus Barbara Harris Combs Lynn Mie Itagaki