On March 21, 1965, after several unsuccessful attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery, more than one thousand people from all over the United States left Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma and set out for Montgomery. In a drenching rain, on the fourth day, March 24, 1965, carloads and busloads of participants joined the march, including well known celebrities among the more than 25,000 persons camped on the 36 acre grounds of the City of St. Jude. The campsite was situated on a rain soaked playing field, held a flatbed trailer that served as a stage and a host of famous participants that provided the scene for an inspirational performance enjoyed by thousands on the grounds. The event, “Stars for Freedom Rally,” was organized and coordinated by the internationally acclaimed activist and screen star Harry Belafonte. Some of the stars in attendance were Joan Baez, James Baldwin, Ina Balin, Tony Bennett, Leonard Bernstein, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billy Eckstein, Dick Gregory, Lena Horne, Mahalia Jackson, Alan King, William Marshall, Johnny Mathis, Frankie Lane, Gary Merrill, Julius “Nipsey” Russell, Pete Seeger, Nina Simone, Shelley Winters, Odetta, Pernell Roberts, and Peter, Paul and Mary.
St Jude was the final stop for the Selma to Montgomery Marchers before arriving at the State Capitol on March 24, 1965. No other organization in Montgomery, public or private, was willing to take such a bold stand. Because of the City of St. Jude's ongoing commitment to human rights and social justice, Father Purcell’s vision of a "city" that would provide exceptional care and assistance to the African-American community of Montgomery and the broader Deep South was exemplified for the world to see.
Our museum seeks to tell the story of the City of St Jude, paying particular attention to the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March. Our hope is that our interpretive center will give a unique insight to our visitors not only of the history of the City of St. Jude and the role we played in the Voting Rights March, but that it will perhaps inspire the next generation of activists to continue working for social justice.
Our museum has well over 100 photos and other items from several collections covering the full range of history of the City of St Jude, and in particular providing a unique perspective of the people involved in the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March (both for and against).
The Garden area outside the museum has as its focal point a sculpture entitled “Homeless Jesus” by renowned Canadian sculptor Timothy P. Schmalz. The “Homeless Jesus” sculpture is a visual representation of the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 25. The sculpture suggests that Christ is with the most marginalized in our society. The Christ figure is shrouded in a blanket with His face covered with the only indication that the figure is Jesus being the visible wounds on the feet. This life-size work provides enough room for someone to sit on the bench and is cast in bronze metal measuring 36”H x 84”L x 24”D. More of Mr. Schmalz's work can be seen at his website: www.sculpturebytps.com
If you would like to visit our interpretive center, please call us at (334) 265-6791 to schedule a day and time to visit! Groups are welcomed.