Marlin Takes the Cajuns on a History Lesson
It was a long bus ride.
The Cajuns’ basketball team was busing from Monroe to Troy, AL, another quirk in the ridiculous Sun Belt Conference schedule for 2015. Lunch had been in Meridian and the bus had crossed into Alabama.
In Cuba (right over the Mississippi border) the bus got off I-20 and onto US Highway 80. The route would take the bus to Montgomery and then south to Troy.
And, that meant the bus would be going through Selma, the epicenter of the United States in March, 1965. The Civil Rights act had been passed a year earlier, but the Deep South was finding a way to keep African-Americans from being eligible to vote. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King went to Selma.
What happened after that is well chronicled in the history books. On what has been known as “Bloody Sunday,” somewhere in the area of 600 people marched over the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, where they were met by law enforcement officials. Beatings, whippings and tear gas became the order of the day.
“Bloody Sunday” directly led to President Lyndon Johnson presenting the Voting Rights Act to Congress which would give all American citizens the right to vote. Eventually the protesters marched from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital.
Bus driver Mastern St. Julian (we just call him Saint) and coach Marlin decided to deviate
just a couple of miles from the route and head to the famous bridge. We all got out of the bus and walked across the bridge. When we got across there were several displays honoring those who fought and, in some cases, died for the cause. There were monuments and, a moving mural which illustrated some of the things that happened and also had representations of those who died for the cause.
Having seen the movie just a couple of weeks before, and having been old enough to remember what happened in Selma, it was an especially moving time for me. (I was probably the only one on the bus that had a distinct memory. The oldest members of the coaching staff were just little kids when it happened.)
It was important for this busload of people, more than half of whom were African American and, who all knew anything at all about this through history books to take some time to take in what happened just across that bridge nearly fifty years ago.
Basketball coaches teach. Sometimes they teach more than basketball..