Building bridges in Selma Alabama: The opportunities and challenges of interracial contact
Racial conflict continues to challenge communities across the United States. This study seeks to identify processes by which individuals build relationships across racial divides and to understand how these relationships influence attitudes and behaviors. A qualitative case study of Selma, Alabama was used, in part, because of the stark separation of the races that continues in the city. With relationships at the center of this study, ten young adults living in Selma were interviewed about the interracial relationships in their lives. This study was guided by a juxtaposition of contact theory, social network theory, and systems theory which allowed for a focus on interpersonal interaction and the intersection between micro-level interactions and macro-level social structure. Conclusions from this study highlight the dynamic nature of race relations in Selma. The power of interracial social trust in a community that has been plagued by interracial mistrust illuminate possibilities for social change at both the individual and community-wide levels.