Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. Our show is special because we make it our priority to go where the silence is. We put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power and lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. If every visitor to this site in December gave just $10 we could cover our basic operating costs for 2016. And, today a generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar. That means when you give $10 today, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? Please do your part today. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in 2016.

Your Donation: $

Politics and Power in a Small American City

September 12, 2000


The struggle for civil rights in Selma has a long and bloody history, and today the people of Selma Alabama will go to the polls to try and reverse history. Today’s run-off mayoral election is between long-time mayor Joe Smitherman and black businessman James Perkins Jr. In a city where the African American majority has fought for the right to vote, Mayor Smitherman is a living legend of racist intimidation and voter fraud.

Selma’s civil rights struggle is known around the country for the violent repression of protestors during the famous march from Selma to Montgomery. The goal of the more than 50-mile trek was to bring attention to discriminatory policies that kept blacks from voting. Yet peaceful marchers were beaten bloody by troopers who were supposed to protect them while America watched from their living rooms.

Our guest was the first black civil rights attorney in Selma Alabama.


  • J. L. Chestnut, is a civil rights attorney and author of ??Black in Selma: The Uncommon Life of J.L. Chestnut, Jr. Politics and Power in a Small American City.