Crossing the Alabama River at the edge of Selma, the Edmund Pettus Bridge is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement. The events here on March 7, 1965—“Bloody Sunday”—brought the nation’s attention, via television, to the brutality being inflicted by law enforcement on African Americans and Whites marching for civil rights and especially for the right to vote. Our group walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge this evening.
The day began in Montgomery, where we visited people and sites that were important in the Civil Rights Movement—including the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and the Martin Luther King, Jr. parsonage. Our drive to Selma retraced the route of the march—in reverse. We saw the places where the marchers camped overnight, and stopped at the memorial site where Viola Liuzzo was killed after the night of the march.
Walking across the bridge some of us thought of this as holy ground. Others recalled the swinging billy clubs, the screams, and spattered blood. Some looked down and marveled that the police didn’t push people over the bridge and into the river. It’s an emotional journey to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Not until you reach the crest of the bridge can you see the other side—where the police were waiting for the marchers.
The bridge was also a mark of redemption when, two weeks later, the marchers crossed the river and completed their journey to the capitol in Montgomery.
In Selma, we ate dinner at the Tabernacle Baptist Church and talked with some of the people who marched back in 1965; foot soldiers who were young teenagers at that time. As we’ve heard before, those struggling for civil rights saw the hand of God in so many events that happened then. So did we.