I understand now what God wanted for me at that time

March 7, 2022
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I understand now what God wanted for me at that time

I understand now what God wanted for me at that time

“My dad got us up early that Sunday morning and loaded my sister, brother, and me into the truck and took us to Selma. He said do what they tell you to do. We went to Brown Chapel AME Church and they told us to be humble. Don’t say anything, and don’t throw rocks.

We marched from the church to Edmund Pettus Bridge where we tried to cross. It wasn’t as intimidating for a child. We were walking and singing ‘Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me ‘Round’ and ‘We Shall Overcome.’ The crowds said mean things to us and gave us the finger.

We were told to follow the leaders. Some of them were John Lewis, Albert Turner, and James Owens. They said when people tell us we can’t cross, don’t stop. When we stop, we will kneel to pray.

The police came on horseback over the bridge. I remember the sounds of hooves on the pavement and the tall black boots that the police wore. It was scary. We knelt to pray, but they forgot to tell us about the tear gas billowing in the air. I couldn’t see or breathe and it itched. It was horrible chaos. Something happened to me. I passed out and ended up in the hospital with a head injury. I don’t know how it happened or how I got to the hospital. There was a rumor that a horse stepped on my head, but my injuries weren’t that bad.

I was in the hospital with John Lewis, and he came to my room to check on me. He called me Little Jenny, and we became friends. He called me Little Jenny until he died. The last time I saw him was when we received Congressional Gold Medals.

A few weeks later, I walked in the march from Selma to Montgomery. I wanted to show everyone that I was okay.

We knew it would take about a week to walk from Selma to Montgomery, but I didn’t care because I was with my friends. It was fun for a while, then we got tired and hungry. It was cold and rainy, and there was some fear, but we pulled it off and made it to Montgomery.

For a long time, I didn’t talk about those days. I was embarrassed because I didn’t know what happened to me on the bridge. I graduated from high school and went to college in Chicago where my older siblings were. I left Alabama in shame and didn’t want it to be my home anymore. I married my boyfriend from Selma and we raised our boys in Chicago. ​​I went on with my life, but it started to eat away at me. When I saw something on television, I always watched and silently said, ‘Gosh, I was a part of that.’

One day I said something to my sister’s sister-in-law about Bloody Sunday and my husband being related to Coretta Scott King. She encouraged me to talk about it. That gave me the strength to say what happened and to accept that I was a part of history. I was a teacher and once the educators heard I was a part of the movement, they started asking me to speak. After I retired, I went to schools to speak with kids.

We kept our house in Marion and I came back during the summers. We moved back to Alabama three years ago. I never liked Chicago and things have changed in Alabama. I live in a neighborhood that my folks couldn’t come into.

I am so proud to be from Marion. God chooses people to do his work – we don’t know when or why. I understand now what God wanted for me at that time. It makes me humble and I now have good feelings about the experiences. There is no anger. In the bad comes good. The struggles made me the person I am.”

Jeanette Howard-Moore, Part Two

 

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