Veggie Across America: Driving Old US 80 and Tracing History

December 10, 2008
Our journey from Atlanta to Los Angeles has not been without its share of frustrations and setbacks. Thus far we've encountered breakdowns, a treacherous snowstorm out of Carlsbad caverns, frigid refueling adventures, and an outright hostile convenience store lady in a remote, dry county in the middle of Texas. But in Alabama we were quickly reminded that nothing we experience could compare to the horrors encountered by civil rights marchers trying to cross a bridge on old US 80 in the 1960s.

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old US 80

old US 80

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Hugh chose old US 80 for its collection of Americana, authentic cuisine, and various reminders of important moments in U.S. history. We just hadn't suspected that the reminders would be quite so vivid.

Old US 80 includes the Edmund Pettus bridge that crosses the Alabama River in Selma, Ala. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Senator John Lewis, and a host of civil rights activists and disenfranchised black Americans marched in a show of solidarity not once, not twice, but three times in an attempt to lobby for equal voting rights. The third time, they finally made it to Montgomery, the state capital, after days of marching on foot. I remembered the story from history class, but had forgotten that police dogs, troops, tear gas, and batons were used to keep the marchers from completing their route. The third attempt was successful, thanks in part to LBJ and federal troops, but not before blood had been shed and lives lost in this iconic '60s civil rights struggle.

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Voting Rights

Voting Rights

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After driving across the imposing steel bridge in our veggie-powered wagon, we decided to visit Selma's National Voting Rights Museum & Institute. The experience was a harsh reminder of a time when the color of your skin basically determined your eligibility to vote in America. But after passing an Obama display on the way out of the museum, we reflected with hope on the progress that's been made toward mending this country's racial inequalities.--Colin Mathews

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Martin Luther King, Jr. statement

Martin Luther King, Jr. statement

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Edmund Pettus Bridge #2

Edmund Pettus Bridge #2

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