Selma & Thoreau

What brave humans
met this morning
50 years ago…

this bloody day. 


Ruby Nell Sales - courtesy of Library of Congress

Ruby Nell Sales – courtesy of Library of Congress

Ruby Nell Sales oral history about Selma March and the power of non-violence, available through Library of Congress.
” …it was in that setting that I saw the power of nonviolence when Annie Pearl Avery, one of the SNCC women, broke through the line to bring us food, because we had – no one could bring us food. The police would let no one come in the – in the church. And I saw this little woman, when the police raised his hand to hit her with a billy club, I saw her simply ask him, dead in the eyes, “Who are you going to hit? What are you going to do with that?” And, to my astonishment, he dropped it, and she came through the line.” 

Ruby Nell Sales

(from oral history transcript) [1]



“[People] who remain capable of joy all their lives are there by so alive that they also remain open to rage –rage at those who would deny the humanity and the potential for joy in others…Thoreau told the citizens of Framingham, ‘the fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls…it does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year; but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.’ And still, as in the Massachusetts of Thoreau, most men who come into the street every morning have lost the ability to feel, let alone summon, the rage of Thoreau at those who would celebrate only their own liberty while being without concern for those who remain locked in powerlessness.”

–Nat Hentoff in the introduction to 1970 publication of David Henry Thoreau’s WALDEN and Other Writings


David Henry Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience, which served as guide to action for Mohandas Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., conscientious objectors to the US war in Vietnam, and the Danish resistance movement during World War Two. [2] I’m thinking of Selma 50 years ago on this day – and racist structures that still exist in this country today…



[1] Sales, Ruby and James Mosiner. “Ruby Nell Sales Oral History Interview Conducted by Joseph Mosnier in Atlanta, Georgia, 2011-04-25.” Film, video, 2011.

[2]Thoreau, Henry David, and Nat Hentoff. Walden and Other Writings. New York: International Collectors Library, 1970.


One response to “Selma & Thoreau

  1. Pingback: Cryptoquote Spoiler – 03/16/15 | Unclerave's Wordy Weblog·

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