Members of Congress reflect on the voting rights journey

Members of Congress reflect on the voting rights journey

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - This weekend, over 100 members of Congress traveled to Alabama for the Faith and Politics Institute 15th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage.

The largest group of bi-partisan lawmakers in the pilgrimage's history paused on Sunday to reflect on the struggle for voting rights and pay tribute to the lives lost in the civil rights movement.

Just 54-years-ago, as Representative John Lewis reminded members of Congress, they would not have been able to sit together on a bus.

"Now look, we're all here together, we should be thankful and grateful for the changes that have occurred in our country we're not there yet but we will get there," Rep. Lewis said.

Foot soldier and civil rights activist Juanita Abernathy will tell you, this is where is all started.

"Alabama saved America from herself," Abernathy said.

The scars of struggle remain.

"How many more anniversaries of the struggle for civil rights can we celebrate by looking over our shoulder rather than standing shoulder to shoulder to face the challenges that lay ahead," said Peggy Wallace Kennedy, the daughter of former governor, George Wallace.

Alabama's State Capital steps served as a final destination for foot soldiers on March 25, 1965. The people that made that 54-mile trek from Selma to Montgomery, like Congressman Lewis and Ralph Abernathy's widow, will tell you, even though they made it to this Capitol 50-years-ago, the journey for racial equality is far from over.

"We're not free in the south we're not free anywhere in these United States until race no longer matters," Abernathy said.

Congressman Lewis says Alabama is a different state, a better state and urged folks to walk in his shoes.

With progress on the horizon, he walked hand in hand with Governor Wallace's daughter just moments after she acknowledged her father's racist past.

"I want to do for you what my father should have done and recognized you for your humanity and for your dignity as a child of god as a person of goodwill and character and as a fellow Alabamian and say, welcome home," Kennedy said.

Faith in Politics officials called today's walk to the Civil Rights Memorial for a wreath laying ceremony a silent walk, as opposed to a march, to not take away any significance from Selma.

Copyright 2015 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.