Groups commemorate Bloody Sunday despite COVID-19 pandemic
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The 56th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee was unlike any other to take place in Selma.
For the first time in decades, there were not the usual thousands of attendees taking part in the commemoration because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bridge crossing reenactment that honors the civil rights activists who were beaten while trying to march to Montgomery in 1965 was largely virtually this year, leaving the Edmund Pettus Bridge unusually empty on the historic day.
“It looks really bizarre to me,” said Treva Wilson from Montgomery. “There is normally so many people here, and there’s not. I understand it being COVID and that everything is going to be on the zoom, but being in Montgomery, I still had to come out.”
The unprecedented year did not stop people who were determined to make the historic walk.
“We’re just saying we’re gonna get in good trouble today,” Wilson went on to say.”
Despite the crowds not being nearly as abundant as usual, there were still many families who traveled to Selma to take part. Some families came from all across the country.
“I wanted my family, my children, to actually see and understand what actually happened here,” said Chris Leveque from Georgia. “It’s to get my kids to understand that Dr. King walked here and that you are actually walking on the path that Dr. King actually walked.”
A group of men from Washington D.C travel to Selma every year to participate in the weekend events. This was their 25th year to cross the bridge.
“This is like a pilgrimage for African Americans to come back through the civil rights movement because without the civil rights movement, we wouldn’t be able to vote, we wouldn’t have the rights that we have to today, and we still have to do more work,” said Basil Abdul Khabir.”
Congresswoman Terri Sewell, Martin Luther King the III, and other activists crossed the bridge Sunday, paying homage to the multitude of civil rights leaders who have passed.
“Each year, we return to the Edmund Pettus Bridge to honor the heroic sacrifices made by those Foot Soldiers, but this year, we will do so without my beloved friend, Congressman John Lewis,” said Rep. Terri Sewell in a statement. “While my heart breaks knowing that John will not lead this year’s commemorative march, my hope is that we will rededicate ourselves to his life’s work by restoring the full protections of the Voting Rights Act,”
The Buffalo Soldiers, a group of nearly 300 bikers, made the ride from Selma to Montgomery on Sunday. It’s a trip the group said they make every year, and this year was no exception.
“We still wanted to get out and ride our, iron horses as what we call them, motorcycles and show respect for the individuals that went through Bloody Sunday to pave the way for us to be able to do what we do today,” said Buffalo Soldier National Secretary Reginald Marable.
Those who didn’t ride the historic route walked. A group of 10 people from across the country who connected via Facebook met in Selma and are walking the 55-mile trek to Montgomery. The group said the trip would take a total of three days.
“We walk not just to commemorate, not just to memorialize. We march to say that we need to keep doing it. We need to keep doing it. We need to keep pushing forward,” said walker Ann-Marie Maloney from Maryland. “Freedom is not free, and so we use our energy, we use our spirit, and we are saying that we will continue to fight for social justice in this country.”
A reminder that the push for social change is a continuous journey.
“I think if nothing else, we’re sending a message of continuing the legacy and hope, and we’re not gonna stop, we’re not gonna stop,” said Crystal Glenn from Maryland.
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