This is a critical time when we all must take a look back at how things “used to be.” On March 7, 1965, state troopers attacked peaceful marchers who were crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, en route to the capitol in Montgomery. On March 7, 2015, the world watched an African-American U.S. president, Barack Obama, speak during the 50th anniversary of Selma at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Bloody Sunday happened.
The Dream Marches On website reports that it was on March 7, 1965, that the Rev. Hosea Williams and future congressman John Lewis led 600 people from Brown Chapel Church. After six blocks, the sheriff and the governor agreed to attack the group with nightsticks and tear gas, but the marchers would not be deterred.
This became Bloody Sunday. Two weeks later, under the protection of Alabama National Guardsmen and Army troops, Martin Luther King Jr. set off again from Selma and marched along U.S. Highway 80 to the capital city.
Afterward, President Lyndon Johnson and Congress were persuaded to enact the Voting Rights Act, which Johnson signed on Aug. 6, 2015. Section 2 prohibited the denial or abridgment of voting rights nationwide.
Alabama is the birthplace of leaders with dreams. Thousands of leaders came together for the paramount victory in the fight for equality – the right to vote.
Though nearly 50 years later, a new Census Bureau report showed, a higher percentage of African-Americans than whites voted in a presidential election for the first time in 2012, breaking the black voting record.
We ought to look back at how things “used to be,” remember Bloody Sunday and honor King, Lewis and all the marchers. In the next election, vote, take someone who may not have transportation, and help register someone new. Then remind them how others sacrificed their lives for the right to vote.
Finally, cite this scripture to help nonvoters understand how remarkable it was for the marchers to sacrifice for us. Scripture says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Lyndia Grant is a speaker, radio talk show host and columnist; visit her new website at www.lyndiagrant.com and call 202-263-4621. Listen Friday, 6 p.m., to the talk show, 1340 AM, WYCB, a Radio One Station. Address 1250 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 200, Washington, D.C. 20036.