Lindsey Olson

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📍Brooklyn, NY 🌲 Tacoma raised 🏜 AZ cultivated 🖤 Sometimes gothy, sometimes girly ✈️ I travel a LOT 🕷CrossFit, travel, books, fashion ☔️ Next: Seattle

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Have you heard of “Seward’s Folly?” There’s a historical narrative that the Alaska Purchase was widely criticized by Americans, considered a barren icebox with no value. However, evidence shows this criticism came from just a few loud opponents, & is nothing more than myth. William Seward, Abraham Lincoln & Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State, negotiated an exceptional bargain of $7.2 million for 586k square miles, or approximately 2 cents an acre in 1867 - this comes out to $140M or $0.40/acre today. The Seward’s Folly Myth claims Americans saw this land as almost entirely useless until the discovery of gold 2 decades later. In reality, most Americans polled & the vast majority of newspapers of the time were either neutral or in support. By the 1850s, Russia was broke from the Crimean War & looking to sell. It recognized that if gold were to be discovered in Alaska, it would be overwhelmed with Americans & British Canadians & hard to defend. Thus, Emperor Alexander II proposed a sale in 1857 to the USA hoping to offset British plans - this was thwarted by the looming American Civil War. Following the Union Victory, William Seward, a strong supporter of territorial expansion, was eager to negotiate for Alaska. The sale was one of the biggest land sales in history, at a price per acre even lower than that of the Louisiana Purchase. Newspaper editors largely argued for the economic benefits, an increase in American trade with East Asia, & the importance of friendship with Russia. Most Americans still believed in Manifest Destiny & territorial expansion. So where did the Seward’s Folly myth come from? Mostly Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, who called Alaska “Johnson’s Polar Bear Garden,” “Walrussia,” & “Russian Fairyland.” One loud guy that history portrayed as representing the majority. The purchase passed with an overwhelming Senate Majority of 37-2, yet many falsely believe Americans considered it a blunder. Do you see this same thing happening today - minority & vitriolic narratives being pushed in media & social as if they represent the majority? Can you name an example? Source: @history, @alaskahistoricalsociety

We visited two glaciers during the Kenai Fjords cruise, Holgate & Aialik (pictured). What exactly is a glacier? It’s a large body of dense ice that slowly moves under its own weight. Glaciers form as snow accumulates & compresses over many years, sometimes even centuries. Glacier facts: 🧊 10% of Earth’s land area is covered by glacial ice, including glaciers, ice caps, & ice sheets. These cover over 5.8M square miles. During the last ice age, they covered 32% of the earth’s land area. 🧊 Glaciers store about 70% of the world’s fresh water. 🧊 Glaciers cover about 35k square miles in the USA, the majority of which are in Alaska. 🧊 If all of earth’s land ice were to melt, sea levels would rise approximately 230 ft worldwide. Cities like London & New York would be lost underwater. 🧊 The bluer the glacier, the denser the ice. The more it compresses, the fewer air pockets, & so the ice absorbs red light & transmits blue light. If the glaciers are white, it means there are still many tiny air bubbles. 🧊 Washington state has the largest area of glaciers in the contiguous USA, providing over 470B gallons of water each summer. 🧊 The largest glacier in Alaska is the Bering Glacier at ~118 miles long. The largest glacier on Earth is the Lambert-Fisher Glacier in Antarctica, which is up to 250 miles long & 60 miles wide. 🧊 99% of the world’s glacial ice covers Greenland & Antarctica. What was your favorite fact? Source: @nsidcnews, @natgeo

My favorite day of the Alaskan journey came out of the small town of Seward, population 2,812, known as the Gateway to the Kenai Fjords National Park. We took our 7 hour Kenai Fjords cruise from @majormarinetours out of the port that’s approximately 120 miles south of Anchorage. Fun facts about Seward: 🛥 Seward began as a small fur trading post in 1793 but was officially founded in 1903. It’s known for having one of the milder climates of Alaska, with an average January low of 22°F - much warmer than Barrow, Alaska’s average January low of -18°F! 🛥 Seward is mile 0 of the Iditarod sled dog race, which runs ~1000 miles from Seward to Nome. It began with the discovery of gold toward the north end of the Iditarod River & thousands of prospectors demanding goods & supplies from Seward’s port. The trail connected the port & the gold mines for 2 decades, but by the 1920s airmail took over. In 1925, a diphtheria outbreak created a desperate need for serum & severe winter weather made flying impossible. Volunteers organized a relay of dog teams to deliver the medicine through blizzards along the Iditarod Trail, & now a commemorative race is held annually. 🛥 Seward is the “Mural Capital of Alaska,” with 12 large murals painted by local artists decorating the town. They depict nearby sites like the Exit Glacier as well as historic events like the Iditarod. 🛥 Seward is the southern terminus of the Alaska Railroad. 🛥 Seward is named after William H. Seward, Abraham Lincoln & Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of State who negotiated the Alaska Purchase in 1867. Seward was stabbed (but survived) the same night as Lincoln’s assassination, part of a co-conspiracy to kill Lincoln, Seward, VP Andrew Johnson, & General Ulysses S. Grant. 🛥 The original Alaska flag, designed by 13-year old Benny Benson in 1927, is memorialized at a site in Seward. 🛥 Seward has received the “All America City Award” 3 times: in 1963, 1965, & 2005. What was your favorite fact? Source: @alaskatravel, @northernlatitudeadventures

Indigenous Alaskans lived undisturbed by outside colonial forces for tens of thousands of years until the age of exploration of the 16th & 17th centuries. Alaska was “discovered” by Europe relatively late by comparison to other New World territories, nearly 250 years after Columbus’ first landing in Guanahani (modern Bahamas). In 1724, Tsar Peter I, or Peter the Great appointed Danish explorer Vitus Bering to command the First Kamatchka Expedition. Most historians believe the main purpose of this was to determine if Asia & the Americas were connected by land bridge, but others believe the purpose was simply colonial expansion. In 1741, Bering sighted the Alaskan mainland. From here, Russian hunters traders began exploits of fur & other resources. During the Russian fur trading years, up to 90% of the native Aleut population died from violence & especially diseases to which they had no immunity, similar to every other colony in the Americas. Russian settlers founded their first colony, The Three Saints Bay colony, on Kodiak Island in 1784. By 1799, Russian merchant Aleksandar Baranov established a monopoly in Alaska through the Russian American Company. By the early 1800s, Russians exported 62,000+ fur pelts annually from North America, 80% of which were from seals. Russia extended trade further down North America’s west coast & settled just north of San Francisco. British, Spanish & American traders disputed Russian claims in the northwest, pushing them back up to the current southern Alaskan border. Russia’s American foothold gradually declined, & by the 1850s Russia was nearly bankrupted by the Crimean War. This was was fought over the rights of Christian minorities in Palestine, & Russia was defeated by an allied force of the Ottoman Empire, United Kingdom, France, & Sardinia. Financially destroyed, Russia sought to dispose of its Alaskan territory, also believing the British may capture it in future wars. In 1867 Russian Tsar Aleksandar II chose to sell the territory to the United States - which I’ll cover in another post! Did you know Alaska was first colonized by Russia 🇷🇺? Source: @history

From Anchorage, we spent a full day driving the Seward highway, a 127 mile scenic road with an abundance of photogenic spots, like the stunning Virgin Creek Falls which may be one of my favorite shots of the trip. My two favorite days of the trip were the Seward Highway drive & Kenai Fjords cruise, so if you’re planning a trip, these are a must. Alaska has the highest share of indigenous population of any US state at 22% of its total (2020 Census). Alaskan Natives encompass 20+ distinct cultures with 300+ dialects. Many Alaskan natives live in coastline & river villages, practicing traditional hunting & fishing. They are the only Alaskans that can legally hunt walrus. A slight majority of natives live in urban cities over rural villages, & as the median age is 31 as of 2020, they are young & expected to dominate Alaskan population growth. Alaskan natives likely came over the Bering Land Bridge ~13.5k years ago. Coastal Native Alaska s believed fish & animals willingly gave themselves to humans & that consumed bones should be returned to the place of catch to allow for reincarnation. Coastal Natives had a complex system of property ownership & status through wealth. Athabascans lived in the interior, being more nomadic & prizing endurance & physical strength. They experienced famines & relied on efficient snowshoes to move to seek food. Leadership was made of warriors & hunters. Aleuts settled the islands around 10k years ago, & had stable fishing access but severe earthquakes, weather, & volcanic eruptions. They have subsided on whales, shellfish, sea lions, & more. They are famous for watertight basketry & sewing techniques, with a three tier society of elders & whales, commoners, & the enslaved. Mummification & sacrifice of slaves were practiced. Inuit, made of the Inupiat & Yup’ik, lived on both the Arctic coast & interior. They are famed for carvings, especially from walrus ivory, whale tooth, bone, & fossil mammoth tusk. They hunted large sea mammals by umiak boats & traveled with sled dogs. There’s much more than I can cover in a caption - I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief intro! Source: @nativefed, @pbs @travelalaska

Many don’t realize that history, like science, is not entirely settled fact, but theories that historians have discerned from evidence. This evidence includes primary sources like books & artifacts directly from the time, secondary sources like biographies & textbooks, & tertiary sources like encyclopedias & girls on Instagram 🙋🏻‍♀️ I mention this because it isn’t settled how humans first arrived to the Americas. Experts generally agree humanity began in Africa & spread out, reaching the Americas last. The prevailing theory says America’s first inhabitants came from Asia by foot from Eastern Siberia to Western Alaska through the Bering Land Bridge about 13.5k years ago, which opened up from lowering sea levels during the most recent Ice Age. Due to limited records from ancient times, this has been the most popular of many theories, with our understanding of human migration evolving & becoming less clear cut with new discoveries. It’s not a bad theory. Prior to its first written record in 1590, theories suggested American inhabitants sprang out of mud or came from the Atlantis. By the 17th century, Russian Peter the Great recruited Danish explorer Vitus Bering to lead an expedition across the strait, & he became the first European to confirm Alaska’s existence in 1724. Englishman James Cook arrived in Alaska in 1778. Both men’s travels spurred theories of human migration with the confirmation of a strait between Asia & North America. 19th century archaeologists furthered the idea that people hadn’t originated in the Americas, but arrived from elsewhere. In the 1920s, archaeologists discovered prehistoric tools from 10k-13k years ago in Clovis, New Mexico, believed to be America’s first culture. They were believed to be generations from those who initially crossed the Bering Land Bridge. Recent evidence disputes this theory, as archaeological sites from nearly 10,000 years earlier suggest humans were there sooner than believed. If humans were there sooner, they couldn’t have crossed the land bridge - it didn’t yet exist. We may never know how or when the first humans arrived in the Americas. Source: @smithsonian, @nationalparkservice

Denali National Park is the USA’s 3rd largest, after Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias & Gates of The Arctic National Parks. Covering 6.1 million acres (it’s larger than New Jersey!), it centers on Denali, North America’s tallest mountain (not pictured). Fun facts: 1) Denali National Park is one of America’s most untouched with only 1 road bisecting the park. It’s 92 miles long & private vehicles, with the exception of a few lottery winners, cannot drive past mile 15, where this photo was taken. Otherwise, only official park buses can go further. 2) Denali is 1 of 3 pilot parks in the Don’t Feed the Landfills initiative - in 2020 alone, these 3 parks cut their landfill waste by nearly half through increased recycling, composting, & education. 3) Denali’s big 5 are: moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, & grizzly bears. The park has over 1,500 plant & 169 bird species. 4) Denali was the first Alaskan National Park, established in 1917 by Woodrow Wilson. Originally, it was named Mount McKinley National Park after the recently assassinated president, but the indigenous mountain & park name was restored in 2015. I’ll cover the name change in another post. 5) Evidence of human habitation in the Denali region goes back 11,000 years, but there are few archaeological sites within park boundaries due to its high elevation & harsh winters, which likely made food resources scarcer than in lower elevations nearby. 6) Park activities include hiking, camping, & mountaineering. The first climb to the peak of Denali was in 1913. 7) 50% of the National Park’s territory is made of permanently frozen soils. More than 16% of the park, or 1 million acres, is covered in glaciers. 8) The lowest recorded temperature in Denali NP was -66° F/-54.4° C. In June 1991, it hit a high of 91° F/32.7° C. 9) Scientific modeling has shown that due to climate change, Denali’s permafrost will reduce from 50% to less than 1% of the landscape. 10) Denali only has one species of amphibian, the wood frog, which has adapted to the cold by freezing solid for the duration of winter. 11) Thousands of dinosaur fossils have been found all over the park. Favorite fact?

All 8 of Alaska’s National Parks rank in the top 15 least visited. I was fortunate to visit 2 of them, starting with Kenai Fjords National Park. Only one glacier is accessible by road, & the rest of the park is experienced by sea. We took a cruise from @majormarinetours & it was likely my favorite day of the trip. We saw two glaciers, Spire Cove (pictured), humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, puffins, & more. Fun facts: 1) Kenai Fjords was designated a National Monument in 1978 by Jimmy Carter, & officially made a National Park in 1980. It covers 699,983 acres. 2) 51% of the land in Kenai Fjords National Park is covered by ice. 3) The natives of the area are the Sugpiaq, who have lived in fishing communities for thousands of years. They have mostly been seasonal residents & not permanent ones. 4) Kenai National Park has close to 200 bird species, & is famous for two species of puffins: horned & tufted. 5) Kenai’s glaciers look vibrantly blue because light from the sun has to travel deep through layers of compressed snow. Long wavelengths of light, toward the red end of the spectrum, are absorbed by the ice, & short, blue wavelengths are transmitted & scattered. The denser the ice, the bluer it looks. 6) The park only has two maintained hiking trails, one to Exit Glacier & one through the Harding Icefield. 7) The Harding Ice Field is the largest feature of the park, covering half of its territory. It’s one of America’s largest ice fields. 8) Kenai Fjords has at least 38 glaciers. It has tidewater glaciers, which flow from land to sea, & alpine glaciers on mountains. I visited two tidewater glaciers, Holgate & Aialik. 9) The tallest point of Kenai Fjords National Park is an unnamed peak at 6,450 feet. 10) Most archaeological sites in the area are now underwater because of rising water levels, so it’s hard to study previous human inhabitants. 11) The coastline of Kenai Fjords was heavily contaminated by the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Oil can still be found on the coastline today. 12) Only one creature lives in the glacier itself - the 3 cm long ice worm. Would you visit Kenai Fjords National Park? Sources: @kenaifjordsnps, @alaskatourjobs

We flew into Anchorage to start our Alaska trip, where we spent about two full days before road tripping to Seward & then Denali. It’s a small to medium city of 290k, & the largest city in Alaska. Highlights included the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Humpy’s Great Alaskan Alehouse, & my favorite part, the incredible Anchorage museum (pictured). Anchorage fun facts: 1) On summer solstice, Anchorage gets 22 hours of daylight. 2) Anchorage, at 149° west, is as far west as Honolulu. At 61° North, it’s further north than European capitals Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki, & St. Petersburg. 3) Anchorage is the northernmost city in the USA with a population above 100k. Anchorage is home to about 40% of Alaska’s population. 4) Turnagain Arm, just south of Anchorage, has a tidal variation of 32 feet - one of the highest in the world - meaning you can go surfing in Anchorage during the right conditions. 5) Anchorage is warmer than people think - summer averages are between 55-78° F, & winter averages are between 5-30°F. Its coldest temperature recorded was -38°F: states like Montana have recorded colder. Its hottest recorded temp was 90°F. 6) Around 20,000 years ago, Anchorage was entirely covered by a glacier. 7) In 1974, Congress approved moving Alaska’s capital from Juneau to Anchorage, but voters declined to fund the construction of a Capitol building so the move never took place. 8) Mountain View, an Anchorage neighborhood, ranked as the most diverse community in the USA in a 2016 census. In fact, the top 3 most diverse neighborhoods are in Anchorage, followed by Queens, NY, at number 4. (Keep in mind this is neighborhood data - rankings change if you go by county or city). 9) There are approximately 100 languages spoken in the Anchorage School District, including English, Spanish, Hmong, Samoan, Tagalog, & Yup’ik. 10) Anchorage is home to 250 black bears & 60 grizzlies, plus foxes, lynx, wolves, & moose. 11) Anchorage hosts the annual Iditarod, a sled dog race running 1,049 miles up to Nome, AK. 12) Anchorage has more espresso stands per person than any other US city. What was your favorite fact? Source: @valerievalise

Welcome to Alaska, my 50th state! While it doesn’t necessarily mean final state, because I love revisiting, I’m so excited to accomplish the goal I set some 7 years ago. I truly found something magical about each & every state, & I hope you’ve enjoyed following me throughout that journey. Let’s kick off Alaska, The Last Frontier, with fun facts! 1) Alaska is the USA’s northernmost, easternmost, and westernmost state. How? Alaska’s Aleutian Islands cross the 180th Meridian, & a few fall into the Eastern Hemisphere. 2) Of the 20 highest peaks in the USA, 17 are in Alaska. The highest, Denali, is at 20,320 ft. 3) Alaska has an estimated 100,000 glaciers. The largest, Malaspina, is 850 square miles. 4) An earthquake occurs in Alaska every 15 minutes. 3/10 of the world’s strongest recorded earthquakes happened in Alaska, & the 2nd strongest earthquake on Earth (& strongest in North America) happened in Alaska on March 27, 1964, hitting 9.2 on the Richter scale. 5) Alaska is the largest state in the Union: it makes up 1/5 of the entire nation and is double the size of Texas. 6) Juneau is the only US capital only accessible by boat or plane, with no road access to the rest of the state. 7) Anchorage’s Lake Hood is the world’s busiest seaplane base, with over 800 take offs & landings on a high day. 8) The largest salmon caught in Alaska weighed 97.5 lbs. 9) There’s approximately 1 bear to every 21 people in Alaska. 10) Barrow, Alaska, is so far north it experiences complete darkness for two full months. In summer, the sun doesn’t set from early May until the end of July. 11) Alaska’s lowest recorded temperature was -80° F/-62° C, the lowest in US history. 12) Alaska has more coastline than the rest of the US combined, ~34K miles. 13) Alaska’s population density is 1 person per square mile. 52% of residents are men, the highest percentage of any state. 14) Alaska natives make up 18% of the population. 15) Alaska is approximately 50 miles from Russia - if you could drive across the ocean, you’d be there in an hour. 16) Alaska is the only state without both a state sales tax or an individual income tax. Have you been to Alaska? Source: @matadornetwork

I get my peaches out in Georgia 🎶 although, if you’ve paid attention to my fun facts, you’ll know California & South Carolina both produce more peaches than Georgia 🎶 We flew out of Atlanta after the Alabama trip as it was easier for my parents to go direct to Arizona from there. We got to enjoy a nice sunset walk in Centennial Olympic Park. Fun facts about Georgia: 1) Georgia is the largest state east of the Mississippi River. 2) Georgia was the last of the original 13 colonies established in 1732 & named after King George II. It was proposed as a felon colony & refuge for London’s prisoners (Australia ended up being Britain’s penal colony), but instead was founded to protect South Carolina from the Spanish in Florida. 3) In 1825, Cherokee Nation’s government named Calhoun, GA (New Echota) their capital. It was the site of the first Cherokee newspaper & Supreme Courthouse. 4) Georgia was the 4th state to join the Union in 1776 & 5th to join the Confederacy in 1861. It was the last to be readmites to the Union in 1870. 5) Georgia is home to the largest swamp in North America, the Okefenonee. 6) The largest wild hog ever discovered was found in Alapha, Georgia. It weighed 1000 lbs, was 12 feet in length, & was nicknamed “Hogzilla” 7) Georgia was the first state to move the legal voting age from 21 to 18 in 1945 8) Georgia was home to America’s first gold rush in 1828, when thousands of prospectors arrived. This led to Georgia Land Lotteries, Indian Removal & the Trail of Tears which led to the deaths of thousands of Native Americans who were forced to walk to modern day Oklahoma. 9) Georgia has had five different capitals: Savannah, Augusta, Louisville, Milledgeville, & finally Atlanta in 1868. 10) Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793 in Georgia, which revolutionized cotton picking & led to the expansion of slavery. 11) Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer, is the only president to have hailed from Georgia. Franklin Roosevelt died in Georgia with his mistress at his side. 12) Savannah, GA, has been dubbed the most haunted city in the USA. Many buildings sit on Native burial grounds & cemeteries of enslaved Africans. Have you been to Georgia?

My final Alabama post comes in perfect timing with the recently released Webb Space Telescope photos. If you haven’t seen them already, I highly recommend a click to @nasawebb to check them out. The universe is incredible! Huntsville is Alabama’s Rocket City as it hosts NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Founded in 1958, NASA’s rocketry program was led from here. The Saturn V booster rockets, which sent Apollo 11 & the first men to the moon, were developed at the Marshall Center. Today, I’ll share fun facts about the moon landing. 1) The moon is over 238k miles away from Earth. The Apollo 11 mission that put the first men on the moon took 4 days, 6 hours, and 45 minutes to arrive. 2) The first astronauts to reach the moon were Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, & Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin on July 20, 1969. 3) The American flag placed on the moon was made by Sears, but NASA kept that secret because NASA had already launched Tang, drank by astronauts, to major popularity. They didn’t want a second advertising campaign based on NASA missions. 4) The Apollo 11 astronauts reported the moon smells burned, like wet fireplace ashes. 5) John F. Kennedy was very behind NASA & publicly pushed it as a progressive endeavor to gain knowledge, but secret tapes showed him admitting he was “just not that interested in space.” He had asked Lyndon Johnson how to score a win against the Soviets, & as they had just sent the first man to space, Johnson suggested a manned mission to the moon. 6) The Soviets also planned a mission to the moon, but kept it secret after the US landed first. 7) The crew had computer issues & radio communication losses that nearly led the mission to abort. Even after they resolved, Apollo 11 missed the landing site by 4 miles & had to scramble for a smooth spot to land amidst rough terrain & craters. 8) With only 5% fuel remaining, Armstrong had 60 seconds to land the lunar module before having to abort the mission. He made it with seconds left. 9) Armstrong set foot on the moon first, followed 20 minutes later by Aldrin. They spent 21 hrs & 36 minutes on the moon. What’s your favorite planet?

Tuskegee, Alabama is famous for 3 things: The Tuskegee Airmen, Tuskegee University, & the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The study was one of America’s most unethical experiments: it convinced 600 Black men they were being treated for “Bad Blood,” but gave them placebos to study the untreated effects of syphilis. Horrendous. However, I’ve spent a LOT of time on Black tragedy. As I only shot one photo in the Tuskegee rain, I’d rather focus on Black Excellence. The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black aviators in the US Army Air Corps. They flew more than 15,000 attacks in Europe & North Africa during WWII. Their tremendous success helped bring desegregation of the military. In the 1920s-30s, flight was (quite literally) taking off with thousands of new pilots, but Black Americans were banned. The military was segregated with many leaders believing Black people to be inferior at combat to whites. At the brink of WWII, the need became so great that Franklin Roosevelt called for the expansion of military training that would include Black pilots. Although desperately needed, they were still trained separately in Tuskegee. Over 1,000 pilots & 14,000 navigators, bombadiers, instructors, mechanics, control tower operators, & maintenance staff trained in Tuskegee. Eleanor Roosevelt herself visited the airfield & flew with Charles “Chief” Anderson - known as the Father of Black Aviation - to publicize the program. Tuskegee’s 99th Pursuit Squadron first deployed in North Africa in 1943. Fighting in North Africa & Italy, they lost bombers at a lower rate than other Air Force squadrons & won over 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses. After all their success in Europe’s liberation, they returned home to racism & segregation. This encouraged Harry Truman to issue Executive Order 9981 to end segregation in the U.S. Armed Forces, mandating equality of opportunity & treatment. More than 300 of the original Airmen received Congressional Gold Medals in 2007, & the surviving pilots were invited to witness the inauguration of America’s first Black President, Barack Obama, in 2009. He credited them for trailblazing the path to his own position. Source: @history

The Edmund Pettus bridge is the site of Bloody Sunday, a brutal event where police & segregationists beat protesters on national television. This galvanized support for civil rights activists & the voting rights campaign. It occurred on March 7, 1965, as future senator John Lewis led 600 marchers across the bridge at the start of the Selma to Montgomery March, which protested for voting rights. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 offered some voting protections, it didn’t do nearly enough. In Dallas County, AL, Black people made up more than half the population but only 2% of registered voters. Literacy tests & lack of registration booths made it nearly impossible. In February 1965, white segregationists attacked Black protesters. When state troopers rushed in, one of them fatally shot 26 year old Jimmie Lee Jackson, a protester trying to protect his mother. Jackson’s shooting brought Martin Luther King, Jr. to Selma to plan a march from there to the state capitol in Montgomery, although he was not there for Bloody Sunday. When the marchers first attempted to cross the bridge, Alabama state troopers beat them with whips & night sticks & released tear gas. As the event was televised, it exposed the horrors of the Jim Crow South & had an opposite effect, bringing Americans of all races & religions to Selma to protest. Hundreds of ministers, priests, rabbis, & social activists soon joined the march. By March 9, MLK Jr. led over 2,000 marchers across the bridge. They found the highway blocked, & King turned the protesters around. That night, segregationists murdered a white minister, James Reeb, who had joined the protests. On March 15, Lyndon Johnson pledged his support for the protesters & called for a new voting rights bill, claiming this was not just the problem of Black Americans but all Americans. By March 21, he sent the National Guard to protect the protesters on the march. They walked 12 hours a day and reached Montgomery on March 25, where they found 50,000 supporters, Black & white, in front of the Capitol. That August, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 passed, banning literacy tests & mandating federal oversight.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice debuted in 2018 as the USA’s first memorial to the legacy of enslavement, segregation, lynching, & the continued presumption of guilt of Black people & police violence. The memorial sits on 6 acres & uses sculptures & design to walk to highlight specific incidences of lynching & life in the Jim Crow South. Lynching is defined as a public killing of an individual who has not received any due process. Lynchings were typically committed by extrajudicial mobs, but police often participated. The lynchings were used by white people in the late 19th & early 20th century to terrorize & control Black people, & while the typical image of lynching is of hanging, other methods included torture, decapitation, & burning alive. 4,743 lynchings were recorded in the USA between 1882 & 1968, although it’s impossible to know how many truly occurred. Lynchings occurred in nearly every state, & the only ones without a recorded lynching are: Arizona, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, South Dakota, Vermont, & Wisconsin. In order, Mississippi, Georgia, & Texas account for the most recorded. 72% of lynching victims were Black, but immigrants from Mexico, China, & more were as well. Some white people Black people were lynched for helping Black people. The memorial details reasons behind the lynching of specific Black people, including: • Voting • Asking a white woman for a drink of water • Registering Black voters • Refusing to abandon land for white people • Drinking from a white man’s well • Interracial marriage • Calling the police on a white man who assaulted his daughter • Kissing a white woman on the hand • Refusing to turn a son over to a white mob Many, many lynching happened due to false accusations by white women, known as the weaponizing of white women’s tears. Lynching has become more infrequent over the years, but even recent events like the murders of George Floyd & Ahmaud Arbery can be considered modern day lynchings. White supremacy has left & continued to leave a horrendous legacy in its path. I highly encourage a visit to the National Memorial to better understand for yourself. Source: @naacp

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