By Chris Turner
Director of Communications, TBMB
Sam pointed across the road to the spot about 50 yards away where he first heard the distinctive “pop” of tear gas canisters fired at the long line of marchers descending from the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The group of 600 stretched from downtown Selma and over the Alabama River. It was the beginning of the 51-mile journey to the state capital in Montgomery to demand long-denied voting rights. Sam was 11 years old and trailing some distance behind his older brother when he saw him running from the consuming mist.
Just 200 yards ahead, at the vanguard of the peaceful march, dozens of people lay scattered in the streets in pools of their own blood, some unconscious, after law enforcement officers brutally beat them with Billy clubs. Sam could see mounted police charging his way, wildly swinging nightsticks at people in panicked retreat, landing blows to their heads and backs. Petrified, he ran after his brother, away from the horror sweeping his way.
I met Sam last week at the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute located adjacent to where the events of Selma’s Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965) took place. He vividly remembers it all, every detail. “That was a bad day. A terrible day. I remember the looks on people’s faces as they ran in fear.” [Read more…]