The National Park Service is excited to announce that the Special Resource Study (SRS) for the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail has officially been sent to Congress. The study highlights the beginning of this iconic trail at the Perry County Jail and also recognizes the importance of other important landmarks along the route such as Zion Church and Lincoln Normal School. We are proud to share this valuable information with Congress and continue our efforts to preserve and honor this historic trail.
The old jail has played a significant role in the Civil Rights and Voting Rights movement. It is a well-known landmark in Marion and has been witness to numerous events during the Civil Rights Era. It was the site of one such event on February 18, 1965, when Albert Turner, Sr. led hundreds of marchers to it. Turner, Sr. had organized a night march to the Perry County Jail in support of activist James Orange, who was imprisoned at the time. However, the march quickly turned into chaos as Alabama State Troopers and local citizens opened fire, resulting in the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson.
Based on the study, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail will be maintained in its current state. However, the study suggests the addition of a new national park unit, which would not only include the Old Perry County Jail, but also expand partnerships with other sites such as the Lincoln Normal School, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Mount Zion A.M.E. Zion Church, F.D. Reese Home, and the SNCC/LCFO Freedom House.
The inclusion of the new national park unit designation will provide the opportunity for extensive interpretation within a wider context. This will involve adding more of the National Park Service’s properties and forming new partnerships. Members of the community, landowners, and other organizations have expressed their approval for this expansion, as it will open up more interpretive possibilities and lead to stronger partnerships.
Meanwhile, Chairman Turner asserted that this announcement “all but guarantees” additional grant funding for the three Perry County historic sites, which will likely amount to $750,000 for each site. This is a significant step in expanding tourism in the county, and he plans to create a division of tourism within the county government in order to seek further grants and develop a stronger tourism sector in Perry County.