The Edmund Pettus Bridge isn’t much to look at.
In fact it’s quite ordinary.
Only about 1,200 feet long, but what happened there 50 years ago spans millions of miles and generation upon generation.
In 1965, the ordinary crossing into downtown Selma, Alabama would become a figurative above ground railroad, a literal bridge into a fairer and more just American future.
That future is here, not quite as fair as we’d like it to be, but better than it was when Civil Rights icons like John Lewis risked their lives so that you and I and everyone listening could have the same rights, equal rights in this place we proudly call one nation under God.
Lewis recalls for USA Today the moment he and hundreds of others tried to cross that bridge and were confronted by a white deputy.
“I give you there minutes to disperse to return to your home or to your church, and the young man walking behind me from Dr. King’s organization said Major give us a little time to pray. And the major said troopers advance. And we saw them putting on their gas masks. And they came toward us beating us with nightsticks, trapping us with horses, releasing the tear gas.”
To call the confrontation that ensued violent would not only be an understatement, but an insult to the men and women who ultimately endured it.
Bloody Sunday, as it has been named, is much more appropriate.
Luckily, on that day, no one died, but 17 marchers were hospitalized.
This Saturday, March 7th, 50 years after the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights, the first black President of the United States, Barack Obama, and the First Lady, Michelle Obama will walk across that bridge with police protecting instead of targeting them.
They are living testaments that all those brave warriors who risked their lives or lost their lives in Selma did not do it in vain.
In order to honor them we must preserve what they fought for, The Civil Rights Act; which simply means the right to vote.
Get off your butt and exercise that right because there were lives that ended on it.
Don Lemon: Edmund Pettus Bridge Our Modern Above Ground Railroad was originally published on blackamericaweb.com