/Selma’s “Bloody Sunday” commemorated for 54th year with bridge crossing reenactment

Selma’s “Bloody Sunday” commemorated for 54th year with bridge crossing reenactment

Attendees chant and march in protest of voter suppression. Photo by Morgan Hunt Glaze. In print Issue 11 of VOL 93, the above photo was miscredited to a photographer that was not Morgan Hunt Glaze. The Alabamian staff extends their deepest apologies to Ms. Hunt.

In 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to lead a peaceful protest from Brown Chapel in Selma, Alabama, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, to the state capital in Montgomery.  

The march’s purpose was to raise protesters’ voices in regards to the disenfranchisement of African Americans voters. Upon their arrival to the now-infamous bridge, those assembled were beaten and tear gassed by waiting police officers. Then-26-year-old man Spider Martin captured the tragedy on black and white film, and the event was henceforth referred to as “Bloody Sunday.”  

The City of Selma now hosts an annual “Jubilee” weekend to honor those foot soldiers by inviting them to cross the bridge once again, but this time alongside friends and family to celebrate King’s life and triumphs. It is both a commemoration of “Bloody Sunday” and an evolving political stage.  

On the 54th celebration that took place Saturday, March 2, Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker, D-N.J., spoke at the same Brown Chapel and challenged the growth of the U.S., stating, “The ‘dream’ is under attack.”  

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson were also in attendance for the 2019 reenactment.  

Because of voter suppression measures many states have enacted in recent years, such as barriers to registration, discriminatory district maps and restrictions on when and how ballots are cast, these leaders expressed fear that the U.S. is regressing, rather than moving forward. 

Volunteers echoed this sentiment, laying down on the bridge in a symbolic plea for voter rights with signs reading, “Lift our vote 2020.” 

In honor of Spider Martin, UM documentary photography students photographed the bridge crossing reenactment and church service at Brown Chapel. 

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