Posted on Sep 7th @ 14:40 CDT
Yesterday I left Atlanta, Georgia after being there for little over a week. Unexpected but it was good to see everyone! As I’ve mentioned before, one of my largest network of friends is down there.
I was able to participate in skate parties, go to favorite restaurants, and just enjoy the city.
My destination would be Eufaula, Alabama where my Nana (my grandmother on my dad’s side) grew up. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from Atlanta so not too bad.
This entire trip I’ve been thankful not to run into any trouble with police or anything else for that matter. As soon as I got into downtown Eufaula (which is not very big), I was tailed for about a mile. Two lanes. I’m in the left and the police are in the right just in my blind spot. In front of me there was traffic. In front of the police…no cars.
Naturally the police would keep going, but instead they stopped just ahead on my right side. With the current state of the country and the relationship with police, I started to think about what could happen. Not good thoughts.
Before this trip started, I made a plan of action if I’m ever pulled over. I’ve never had problems with any police and I’ve been pulled over many times for speeding. Half a dozen times at least. I’ve always been cordial and I’ve encountered nice officers as well as jerks.
So my plan goes as follows (feel free to take from this):
- Pull over immediately in a safe place (otherwise move slowly with my blinker on until I can get to a safe place to pull over)
- Turn on my dome light in my car (I don’t have tints)
- Pull out my wallet and registration and place it on the dashboard
- Place both hands on the wheel and wait
By doing this I feel like my chances of not being violated are minimized. No reaching for anything. No darkness to make any officer suspicious. Everything out in the open.
Back to the story….
So traffic stops in front of me and I slow down. Once it started moving again, I continue going the speed limit and the police ride along side me (I guess looking in my car), then they pull behind me again.
Instead of looking at them, getting nervous, or doing anything else, I look the other way. I put my right arm on the passenger seat and relax. I had nothing to be afraid of except them–which I shouldn’t be saying but I was. I was in Eufaula, Alabama with California plates and car full of stuff…in addition to looking racially ambiguous.
Eventually they turned off but it was a bit much.
Here’s where my experience got much better.
I pulled in to a gas station and went inside to ask someone if they knew of my grandmother and her family or at least could point me to the street she told me about. I go inside and talk to a nice woman named Ann who was from the area. Told her my Nana’s last name and she said she knew of the last name!! How awesome is that? So she says the ones she knows are younger but there would be a woman not too far that would know more.
She directed me to Ms. Davis’ house about five minutes away. I pull up, get out and knock on her screen door which was letting a cool breeze into her home.
Knock knock knock.
[waits a solid minute]
“Yes?” she says, slowly limping toward the door and squinting her eyes from the light rushing in.
“Are you Ms. Davis?” I ask.
“Yes.” she says.
“My name is Vaughn Dabney and I was directed to you by a woman named Ann up at the gas station on Eufaula Road.”
She takes a moment to recollect and gather herself, then she quietly exclaims that she knows who that is. I proceed to tell her about my Nana, her last name, and her siblings. Ms. Davis recalls going over there to play sometimes. Say whaaaat?! This woman knows of her. The big deal is that my Nana has not been back to Alabama since she left and her house is no longer there but I wanted to hopefully get some photos for her.
So I sit and chat with Ms. Davis for a while and even call up my Nana and there was literally two full minutes of, “well does she know so and so?” Literally. It was sweet. After pulling up a map on Google, she shows me where the house may be. I take a photo with her and I head about seven minutes away to Rivers Rd.
Sweetest lady. I gave a stranger a hug that day. She even told me to come back if I wanted to know anything else. I’ll never forget that moment in time.
I drove up to Rivers Rd and found the plot of land that my Nana used to live on with her father as a pastor in that area. I only found it with the help of two other older women in the area–one who lived directly across the street.
This was so amazing because I felt like an investigator and at the end all the pieces came together with the help of several people. The beauty of this small town was shining through.
After Eufaula, I headed an hour west to Montgomery, Alabama. Didn’t do much here except sleep for a night. Next day I started my journey to Texas.
I knew the drive to Clifton, Texas would be about 12 hours so I had to mentally prepare. On my way out of Montgomery I wanted to stop in Selma, Alabama though. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr marched with other prominent civil rights leaders to Montgomery, Alabama. This day was also known as “Bloody Sunday”.
I got the opportunity to cross this bridge and take it in…
After spending some time in Selma, I hit the road heading through Louisiana and then finally to Texas! It wasn’t too bad of a drive and I got some amazing footage.
Today I’ve just been doing a little work. I’ll be back in Los Angeles soon and I can’t wait to share what I’ve done.
**I’ll correct any typos later 🙂