2 AL civil rights sites feel pain of government shutdown

Shutdown affects tourist stops in west AL

SELMA, AL (WSFA) - For three weeks now the Selma Interpretive Center has sat empty, dark and unattended due to the federal government’s partial shutdown. The center tells the story of the civil rights movement in Alabama.

The actual building that houses the Selma Interpretive Center is owned by the city of Selma. However, WSFA 12 News was unable to reach anyone at city hall for response on this story.

“I would think it’s an attraction that’s an important part of Selma-Dallas County," said Sheryl Smedley, Executive Director of the Selma-Dallas Chamber of Commerce and Tourism.

A sign on the door of the Selma Interpretive Center explains that it is closed due to the federal government's partial shutdown.
A sign on the door of the Selma Interpretive Center explains that it is closed due to the federal government's partial shutdown. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Smedley, however, has found a way to turn the closure into an opportunity. With the help of a sign she posted on the front door of the interpretive center, visitors are encouraged to stop by the chamber a couple of blocks away where she shares the civil rights story and redirects them to other historic spots.

“The National Voting Rights Museum, that’s right across the bridge," she said.

Smedley says it’s the least she could do when you consider "the interpretive center had 25,195 visitors in 2016.”

Selma’s not the only city feeling the impact. The same story is being played out in Lowndes County.

“I mean we couldn’t even go inside," said Deja Gray, disappointed the Lowndes County Interpretive Center is also closed.

The Lowndes Interpretive Center
The Lowndes Interpretive Center (Source: WSFA 12 News)

“Because we are new to the area and so we’re always interested in new things," Gray explained of the visit. “It’s very irritating.”

There appears to be no window of opportunity for President Donald Trump and congressional leaders to compromise on the wall. With this stalemate, Sheryl Smedley will continue to bridge the gap by sharing a big part of Selma’s history while Deja Gray hopes a political breakthrough can be found at the next stop.

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