A few weeks ago, in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's holiday, I saw the movie "Selma" for the first time. That prompted me to do some reading about Selma and in turn that prompted me to reflect on why I have no memory of the event. Of course, I was only 7 at the time, but I have a vivid memory of the 1964 election, just a few months before: I thought we would have to move to Canada if Goldwater won. And I have a vivid memory of President Kennedy's assassination a year and a half before.
Indeed, I remember things before I was even three: being held by my Mom on the porch one sultry summer evening while my Dad used a broom to shoo a bat out of my bedroom; sitting in my Dad's lap next to my crib while he read to me under the cow jumping over the moon on the wall above; the neighbor lady, Esther, who made the cinnamon coffee cake that I can still smell; standing in the backseat of the car while my parents watched "Damn Yankees" at the outdoor theatre; the tiny frosted mugs of Root Beer at the A&W; and my Grandpa Bailey carrying me upside down by the ankles to the back of the church while I choked out a Ludens licorice cough drop.
So why don't I remember Selma?
I called my Dad to ask if he has any ideas about this. He told me that Selma is hazy for him too. We talked about what was going on in our lives: his service as Pastor for two Lutheran Churches in Lena, IL that were working towards a merger, one of which was building a new Christian education building; the beginnings of my Mom's illness, later diagnosed as Parkinson's; the 1964 election which I do remember and my Dad's first hearing from a friend who was a pastor in Texas of the extreme right-wing John Birch Society and the damage it was doing. I remembered that we moved from Lena, IL to North Aurora, IL one springtime -- I had to finish the last two months at a different school but made a new best friend on the first day. He checked his calendar, but this was a year later, in the spring of 1966.
Then we both remembered that my Grandpa Bailey had a heart attack in 1965. Again, Dad checked his calendar and the heart attack was on or about Wednesday, March 10, 1965. Bloody Sunday in Selma was March 7, 1965. The second march was on Tuesday, March 9th. The Unitarian Minister, Rev. James Reeb, was beaten in Selma later that night and he died on Thursday, March 11th. The hearing before Federal Judge Johnson was also on Thursday, March 11, 1965.
Grandpa Bailey died on Saturday March 13, 1965, while police barricaded protesters from marching on the courthouse in Selma.
The final march from Selma to Montgomery started on Sunday, March 21, 1965.
There are public earthquakes. And there are private earthquakes.