|President Obama in the front of the Edmund Pettus Bridge|
This past Saturday, March 7, I was among the thousands who traveled to Selma, my hometown, to hear President Obama’s address honoring the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. On March 7, 1965, peaceful demonstrators in Selma were beaten by law enforcement officers intent on stopping their march to Montgomery. The demonstrators were marching to demand their right to vote. As a result of their bravery, the Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson on August 6, 1965. I was too young to be involved in the original march, but this year, I was determined to be there. After all, I do work in the Southern History Department, so it seemed especially appropriate to witness this historic event. My sister and BPL’s Director of Development, Olivia Alison, also joined me on the adventure. So, at 8:00 on Saturday morning, we found the end of a four-block-long line and began the wait.
|BPL's Olivia and Fontaine Alison|
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
|A symbolic march across the bridge in 2015|
|Bloody Sunday in 1965|
…the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can. It is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.
One way to do this work is to learn more about history and pass the knowledge on to others. The Tutwiler Collection of Southern History and Literature includes some of the best resources in the country. We invite you visit us and explore:
- Learn about your own history with our genealogical resources and workshops.
- Learn about your local history in books, newspaper clippings, and archived documents about Birmingham, Selma, and Alabama.
- Learn about your country’s history through our impressive collection of civil rights materials.
Southern History Department
President Obama in front of Edmund Pettus Bridge- Justin Sullivan/Getty
Symbolic Walk- Bill Frakes/Associated Press
Bloody Sunday- Library of Congress