Selma, Alabama – Where History Meets Hospitality, from the Civil War to Civil Rights
Summer Smiley in front of her restaurant, Gone Country.
StoryCorps Griot spent the week in Selma, Alabama. Selma is a charming city with a long and rich history. As we crossed the Alabama River on the Edmund Pettus Bridge into Selma, one of the first things I noticed was the number of small independent businesses lining Broad Street. Selma has suffered the same economic hardships as communities throughout the South and across the country, but somehow these businesses have hung on. Within the first ten blocks or so are four independently owned pharmacies alone. I have never seen so many mom and pop drug stores so close to one another. The ability of these small businesses to survive is a wonderful testament to American perseverance, ingenuity and community. StoryCorps Griot is proud to have the opportunity to visit Selma. We were set up at the Selma Dallas County Public Library, and could not have had a better host. Selma native Tina Smiley of the National Parks Service helped coordinate outreach so her community would have an opportunity to share their stories.
Among the many restaurants owned by local residents, Gone Country was my favorite lunch time spot. Summer Smiley (not related to Tina Smiley) and her sister opened this Alabama Street cafe about two months ago. Unfortunately, Ms. Smiley and her sister were unable to take time away from the restaurant to share their stories. Maybe next time. We appreciated the good food and good conversation.
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Commitee’s (SNCC) Freedom House, a private residence at 2021 Eugene Street, that served as informal local headquarters for SNCC.
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