The city of Selma, Alabama once again walked with deliberation. Today March 7, 2015 in Selma, Alabama, five decades were memorialized. Attendees honored the 600 Selma human rights advocates who, in 1965, opposed the injustice against the black community throughout the United States. ‘Bloody Sunday’, as it is known, transpired on Sunday, March 7, 1965 while activists made their way from the small city of Selma to the capital city of Montgomery in Alabama. The demonstration was a catalyst to what later became the Voting Rights Act in the United States, at last granting the black Americans their right to vote.
A group of 600 people started a peaceful march on that Sunday in March of 1965. They marched for their civil, basic, and human rights. Little did they know, that the day would be remembered in history as ‘Bloody Sunday’. Painted in the color of their blood, due to the brutal and violent police action against them. Before the marchers could attain their triumph, white policemen, along with a posse on horses, blocked their path as they approached the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The white men brutally beat them with billy clubs and sticks. Forcing them back with water hoses, tear gas, police dogs, and trampling upon them with their horses. However, that did not stop the activists from achieving their goal of attaining equality.
Approximately eight days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson had a conversation with the United States Congress, regarding equal voting rights for all citizens without being judged on the basis of the color of their skin. The Voting Rights Act was signed by President Johnson on August 6, 1965, giving voting rights to the black population in the United States. The struggle that the black people in Selma and across the U.S. had to endure, not only shaped the history of civil rights, but American history also.
This is considered one of the major landmarks in the transition of civil society in the U.S. Today, March 7, 2015, the small historic city of Selma marched again. A march against the prejudice faced by various sections of the population today, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, as well as others including the African-Americans and some particular immigrant communities at the hands of various authorities, and law enforcement officials.
Today, Selma has a population of almost 20,000 out of which 80 percent are African-Americans. The population in 1960 was close to 28,400 with almost 50 percent African-Americans living there. The rate of unemployment at present is a staggering 10 percent in Selma, which is twice the average unemployment ratio in the state. President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the march for civil rights, from the historic city of Selma to Montgomery. President Obama invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, Amelia Boynton, and Ralph Abernathy among others, and reminded people of the steps taken by these stalwarts during their lifetime. He addressed the nation from the same Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, and thanked and honored those leaders for their sacrifices made for a better future for the present generation.
The walk in Selma on March 7, 2015, stood for a new resolve of civil society’s fight against injustice. A call was made by the leaders to recommit civil society for proclaiming their dignity and civil rights in the form of one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
By Ankur Sinha