Fifty years today marks Bloody Sunday, the peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama on March 7, 1965, to ensure the constitutional voting rights for African Americans, who still were not allowed to vote in the South. This inequality hits me on a cellular level.
I listened as John Lewis told the story of Bloody Sunday on National Public Radio, on my way to work last week. John Lewis said he was raised to not ‘get in the way.’ He didn’t like the inequality he saw and experienced growing up. He decided the better path was to ‘get in the way.’ He led the march that day.
As several hundred brave men and women peacefully marched the six blocks from their church to the base of the Edmund Pettis Bridge, state troopers and local law enforcement blocked their way, by the order of Governor George Wallace. Billy clubs and tear gas stopped John Lewis and other marchers at the bridge. They returned to their church to regroup.
The marchers would not give in. They knew their rights. More people joined them in an attempted second wave two days later. Dr. Martin Luther King was a part of this symbolic march. He request and received court protection for the third march.
On March 21, 1965, over three thousand people began walking in Selma. By the time they reached Montgomery four days later they were 25,000 strong. Five months after that, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Some of the information for this post was found at:
It is up to all of us who remember that time to ensure true stories like this are passed on for future generations. Many people have sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy, not the least of which are the marchers on Bloody Sunday in 1965, not so long ago. Civil rights are not automatic, though they should be. Civil rights are won in steps.