Fifty years ago, police in Selma, Ala., brutally beat peaceful protestors attempting to march over the now infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge — a roadway named after a Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan — to demonstrate in support of voting rights.
That day, dubbed “Bloody Sunday,” left many, including Congressman John Lewis, battered and seriously injured. It did not, however, break their spirit. Two days later Dr. Martin Luther King led a couple thousand back to the bridge in an attempt to march to Montgomery. They turned around, but only days later (March 21) the march continued with the protection of Army troops. Now, 50 years later we remember Bloody Sunday as the event that ushered in the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law in August of 1965.
Today, March 7, we reflect on an event filled with so much pain and horror that ultimately changed the landscape of American politics. But we also acknowledge the parallels — with the recent release of a scathing Justice Department report detailing the racist practices of the Ferguson, Mo. police department and the killing of black men, women and children at the hands of law enforcement, it’s clear that Selma then is Selma now.
Without a doubt, there is much work left to do!