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​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.

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6 thoughts on “Don Lemon: Edmund Pettus Bridge Our Modern Above Ground Railroad

  1. Tyrone P. Dumas on said:

    Let the name on the Bridge stand for the sake of history…don’t sanitize our history to make some folks feel easy and or be offended by the truth. Edmund Pettus stood for everything that was against African American people as a member of the KKK promoting violence, hate and intolerance. We need to teach our children about the truth of Slavery, Jim Crowe and the Civil Rights Movement and make sure that the truth is placed before them in books, writings, in museums and in our hearts, minds and souls. We don’t to see artifacts from these eras to renamed because people are offended by their existence and or their true meaning. I don’t want to see anyone propose that we rename the Death camps of Europe or Kelly Ingram park & The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham because they need to be updated to not offend. Let this name stand as an education and learning experience for those in the present and for those yet unborn…

  2. And this is suppose to be America, “land of the free,” “liberty and justice for all?” These very statements need to be removed and replaced with “land of the hate with oppression,” and “no liberty and justice for black America.”

  3. African American woman on said:

    The people of the original civil rights movement make me proud to be black. Even though I wasn’t born until the late 70’s, I have the utmost respect for these men and women who actually walked the talk. These people actually were ready to due for the cause, stand and march in all kinds of weather to vote-something many of us don’t even take a few steps from our houses to do. These people didn’t sit around and complain and whine victim all day long. They didn’t kill one another, they didn’t sit with their hands out waiting for someone else to do for them what they should be doing for themselves. Women acted like ladies and men like gentlemen. Thats gone. I believe that Martin Luther KiNguyen would be incredibly disappointed in us today. All the marches, unity and love for our fellow man he worked so hard at, we throw away today.

  4. Timekeeeper on said:

    The Edmund Pettis bridge is a real bridge. Unlike that magical bridge of equality that doesn’t exist ( although so many ignant, Yes Ignant! Folks think it does. This “Bloody Sunday” which is so appropriately called is still bloody. Why, because we all have our own blood on our hands when we don’t exercise our right to vote. This action, or lack thereof, is what keeps those who would still like to stand at the end of that bridge and beat us up in power. Power to continue to oppress. So, not only is it bloody Sunday, it can be bloody Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday too if we think we can sit back and believe those in power are suddenly going to have a change of heart and start being fair to everyone except themselves.
    Disneyland isn’t even that good!

  5. specialt757 on said:

    Well Don, I think you got this one right. I can’t disagree with anything in this article. Lots of people complain about the wrongs in America but they are the same ones who don’t exercise their rights to vote, especially in the mid-term elections. The elections where we elect local sheriffs, county officials, etc… These elections are critical to our everyday lives. We show up and show out when injustices have been done, but not at the polls where we could make a huge impact and difference.

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