How historical was it for me, my husband, and our boys–an African-American family, to turn on the television and see a man, who holds the highest office in the nation, with his family–a family that looks just like ours, commemorating one of the most memorable events in African-American history here on American soil–Selma! Today, we sat as a family almost sandwiched on the edge of my bed watching history unfold. 50 years ago to date, a people just like us, with aggressive purpose but peaceful deed, achieved a monumental feat. In the face of death, seeking their constitutional right to vote, 600 unarmed marchers braved the Edmund Pettus Bridge only to be met by a blood thirsty posse and state troopers, set on deterring their will, who beat them with weapons and showered them with tear gas leaving many of them battered and bloody.
After escaping the bridge on that dark day, they didn’t return to their homes to cower in corners and give up. They mounted that bridge two more times, and with the whole world watching. Because of their determined stance, President Johnson was forced to move on their behalf. On their third attempt, thousands of US soldiers and National Guard were dispatched to protect them as they blazed the historic trail from Selma to Montgomery to contest their right to vote.
I don’t believe our eyes shifted once during today’s coverage. Rep. Lewis–A Selma survivor, shared an emotional account with the world today and admonished that we are far from resolved on this issue. The President followed with an echo of the same sentiment by going a step further and challenging congress to not just note Selma as a historic event, but step up and continue to protect voting rights by blocking current laws being established to neglect them. The moment was concluded with a memorable walk over the bridge.
The baton was passed to the next generation today. And for that, we say thank you. Thank you to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmie Lee Jackson, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Representative John R. Lewis, and countless others who were beat down but refused to back down. We take our hats off to you today!