The march from Selma to Montgomery was one of the most significant events in the ongoing Civil Rights movement. Using the occupation of the highway – a feature which in its expression of efficiency has been a tool of oppression and segregation – and relying on the support of agricultural communities along the way, the march was able to transcend its bloody start and become one of the key events of the 60s Civil Rights movement.
The pilgrimage is envisioned along the 50-mile stretch of highway between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama and is comprised of three waypoints coinciding with the three stops made by the original marchers, anchored by a walking path located in the median of Highway 80. The path starts at grade with the road and slowly descends over the three days before returning to grade level at the capitol. At each of the stops, the path diverges from the structured median, takes the pilgrims through a labyrinthian route along territory structured by the vernacular of the agricultural, and finally arrives at the waypoint which is constructed from forms of the agricultural and religious communities which have been warped in turn to reflect the civil incongruences central to the original march’s inception.
Using the language of domestic and sacred spaces, our goal was to explore how this path could shed its identity as a memorial to a past event and become a modern-day pilgrimage to provide transcendent experiences as well as an exploration of architecture’s role as a socio-political force.