Today, we were honored to hear the recollections of Dr. Ron Payne, a retired Methodist Minister who, as a student minister at the Methodist Seminary here in Ohio, drove to Alabama to participate in Dr. King's march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Rev. Payne was known to us as a local representative of the ACLU, but Madeline prevailed upon him to return this month to talk about his remembrances of 1965. Today was the first time Rev. Payne had gathered his thoughts in a formal presentation, and the raw emotions broke through.
It was interesting to note that his sharpest memories were of the events leading up to the March and the events surrounding the march, but the day itself he remembered as less eventful. That is due to the fear and anticipation was more palpable than the actual walking. And the realization of the enormity of the thing that they had done, looms very large in retrospect of the actual walking.
Dallas County, Alabama was a remarkable only in that when the Freedom Riders came to Alabama and Mississippi, this county and it's Sheriff, Jim Clark, were particularly resistant to having black people be registered to vote. So, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and John Lewis picked Selma, the county seat to be the focus of their protest on March 7, 1965. This was the Bloody Sunday march where the sheriff and troopers beat the marchers unmercifully. Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) became involved and then called for ministers to participate in the protest. The Methodist Seminary here in Columbus sent a delegation that included young Mr. Payne. Try to remember that Dr. King and the SCLC did not have the national and international recognition then. This was a small group of unknowns going up against the established law enforcement officials of a county in America. The police had already killed protesters. There was a great deal to be feared.
I won't describe any more of Rev Payne's recollections. If this sounds like the kind of thing that you would like to know more about, please come visit some Sunday morning at 11:00. We would love to see you. We have coffee.