Selma honors civil rights pioneers in Bloody Sunday commemoration

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Michaela Redmond

Thousands gathered at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Sunday, honoring the hundreds of peaceful civil rights demonstrators who wound up fighting for their lives on March 7, 1965.

On that fateful date, the protesters were met by members of law enforcement and their allies who beat protestors with clubs and let loose dogs, water guns and tear gas. Before it was over, 17 were hospitalized and dozens more were injured in what’s now known as Bloody Sunday.

But on March 6, 2022, those thousands gathered in celebration of how far we’ve come, and in remembrance of how it’s still not far enough. One way to change that is by ensuring more people vote, organizers said.

The Edmund Pettus Bridge is now a landmark for the Civil Rights Movement, and every year the event draws people from all over the U.S., including from the White House.

Alabama Democracy Centers Program Director Douglas Bonner has been coming to this event every year with his fraternity and started coming this year with Alabama Democracy Centers, too.

The organization helps inform Alabamians of legislative bills and state actions and statistics.

“The vote is the most important thing for us to cherish and a lot of people sacrificed for us to be able to vote,” said Bonner. “Everything in Selma is built around the right to vote.”

Bonner’s fraternity brother E.C. Rentz II has also been coming every year, and helped Bonner bring Alabama Democracy Centers to Selma.

Rentz said the most important reason to come is to continue to advocate for voting.

“We are re-acting the incident that occurred 57 years ago, in which folks were fighting for their voting rights,” said Rentz. “That fight still continues today.”

Motorcycle club the Buffalo Soldiers was also at the celebration, and they’ve got ties back to the original march.

Everie Watson said that its only right that they come, since the club is based on the actual demonstrators and the name they use is the same one Native Americans gave the Selma protestors.

“This is just history, it’s just history,” said Watson. “It kind of emulates what we do as soldiers and we aren’t fighter but we emulate what they do.”

The bridge crossing happened at 4:30 p.m. with Vice President Kamala Harris at the forefront leading the march with civil rights pioneers.

Bonner said events like these help ensure more African Americans get signed up to vote.

“324,000 registered African Americans in the state of Alabama did not vote,” said Bonner. “Another 300,000 African Americans in the state of Alabama aren’t registered.”

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