2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March
On March 8, Knoxville and Oak Ridge-based groups will march in Selma, Alabama, much like civil rights demonstrators did a half century ago. Members of various local groups will participate in the march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March.
Planned by Organizing for Action, Northeast Tennessee (OFA-TN) and the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, the Knoxville area groups will join others from across the countryâ€”including President Barack Obamaâ€”to participate in the Bridge Crossing and Backward March. Like the historical 1965 march, the path of the commemorative march begins in Selma and crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a total of six blocks. The march begins at 2:30 p.m.
On March 7, 1965, civil rights leaders and demonstrators, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., marched in Selma as part of the voting rights movement. Their intent was to demand voting rights in a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery.
They only made it six blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they were met by state troopers and a county posse on horseback, armed with billy clubs and tear gas. That day became known as â€œBloody Sunday,â€ as the crowd of 600 people were struck and gassed, some suffering extensive wounds.
â€œBloody Sundayâ€ was instrumental in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The 50th Anniversary Jubilee celebrates the bravery and determination of the â€œfoot soldiersâ€ who placed their lives in danger to stand up for equality. From March 5-8, events such as workshops, films, lectures, and a parade take place in Selma.
â€œWe respect and honor those who, knowing that they would likely be seriously maimed or killed, took those fateful steps toward equality, and secured voting rights for Black people in America,â€ says Oak Ridge OFA organizer Rajendra Jain. â€œWe will march to express our support for equal rights for all people.â€
The group will depart for Selma on Saturday, March 7, and return Sunday evening. They will participate in the Bridge Crossing and Backward March at 2:30 p.m., as well as pre- and post-rallies.
Among the groups from Knoxville and Oak Ridge commemorating the march in Selma are Organizing for Action, the NAACP, the Sportsmenâ€™s Club, and Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church, Comite Popular de Knoxville (and more to follow).
Donations are requested to provide scholarships to students and others who canâ€™t afford to go atÂ http://donate.gotoselma50.com/.
To learn more and sign up visit http://www.gotoselma50.com/.