In continuance of our “10-year Gee’s Bend Anniversary” theme, here’s part 2 of a video collection devoted to that fateful day:
It’s been 10 years since ferry services connecting the predominantly black and impoverished community of Gee’s Bend to the larger, more opportunistic city of Camden were placed back into the spectrum of reality.
And while race relations in other parts of the Country only seem to be getting worse as the days go by, it’s easy to see how Wilcox County—a place who’s closet is full of some of the most horrifying, most unforgettable and racially-tense skeletons in modern history— is continuing to take major, era-defining strides towards justice and equality for all of mankind.
After nearly half a century of isolation, the people of Gee’s Bend were finally allowed ease of access to things like grocery stores, hospitals, and jobs in September 2006. Two worlds became one. What was right had won. And the dawning of a new age was quickly beginning to rise over the slow-moving waters of the Alabama River.
The original ferry was shut down in 1962, allegedly, with attempts to keep the blacks of Gee’s Bend from coming to Camden to vote, rally, or protest amidst civil rights uprisings led by Martin Luther King.
With the ferry out of service, the folks of Gee’s Bend were forced to drive (if they even owned a vehicle at the time) all the way AROUND the river to get to town. A trip that would’ve taken nearly an hour, compared to the now 15-minute float it takes to get to Camden.
The segregation caused more than voices to be left unheard or votes to be left untallied. Without nearby police or fire rescue teams, many Gee’s Benders lost their lives and homes. Since the nearest hospital was so many miles away, simple injuries turned into life-altering disabilities to people who only needed time on their side to make a full recovery.
Well, time…and a radical change of pace in civil rights.