City of St. Jude responds to Interpretive Center selection

Archival footage of the Selma to Montgomery March from 1965.
Archival footage of the Selma to Montgomery March from 1965.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The day after it was revealed that plans might not include the City of St. Jude school in construction of the third interpretive center along the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, St. Jude officials responded.

"Although we are disappointed, we are not surprised at the decision by the National Park Service to recommend a site other than the one offered by the City of St. Jude..." said spokesman Douglas Watson in an email.

The trail was used by hundreds of people who marched the 54 mile route in 1965 for the right to vote.

There are already two interpretive centers along the trail, one in Selma and the other in White Hall. It's at these places where folks can learn about the slaying of people like Viola Liuzzo and the establishment of the "tent city" during the Civil Rights movement.

Plans for the third center, which were widely assumed to be destined for West Fairview near St. Jude School, were set back with the announcement Thursday that Alabama State University might be the chosen location.

The decision caught a lot of people off guard, especially those who thought the center would be built at St. Jude, where thousands of Civil Rights marchers camped out the night before the historic conclusion of themarch.

The United States Park Service has recommended taking an offer from Alabama State niversity, which amounts to a pledge of $14 million toward construction and long term support for the center.

"The fact remains that in 1965, the City of St. Jude was the only place in Montgomery that allowed thousands of marchers to rest and camp on its grounds at the end of the historic march," Watson said. "Had St. Jude been a state owned property, there might not have a CAMPSITE 4 in Montgomery."

The park service says regardless of the location, construction won't begin for at least another year.

Watson adds, "regardless where the Interpretive Center is built, no one can change history and the fact that the City of St. Jude will always be CAMPSITE 4."