Movement and Space’: Civil Rights Memorial Center releases new community guide to help fight racism in America

Photo by AP Images/Julie Fletcher

By David Hodge, Southern Poverty Law Center

The predominantly white neighborhood where I live is lined with tall, moss-covered trees that began their climb toward the sky before the Montgomery Bus Boycott energized the civil rights movement, before it was legal for Black people like me to live there.

I spent a year in this tranquil neighborhood until my sense of security was shouted down by a voice that accosted me from a short distance. Four days before the killing of George Floyd, when I pulled up to my home, a white man I had never seen before blurted out as I exited my vehicle, “Do you live here?”

I responded: “The more pertinent question is do you live here?”

Then I turned and went on about my day. He turned a shade of red that I can only assume showed his feeling of authority evacuating his body like an unexpected cough.

It took a few days for my inner turmoil over this incident to subside. I carried with me a bittersweet ending to that brief encounter, which could have ended the way it did for Ahmaud ArberyTrayvon Martin or Rekia Boyd – Black people who were killed in chance encounters with either police or self-appointed “law enforcers” while exercising their right to be, to move and to occupy space…

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