Marching Selma Edmund Pettus Bridge

Marching Selma

I chose the photo to represent this day because I wanted to remember how I felt going over that bridge.
Selma, Alabama was so quiet on a Thursday afternoon it was unnerving. We spent some time at a voting rights museum at the foot of the Pettus Bridge. It seems like such an unassuming place and I wondered that if I didn’t know the history of what happened there, if I would have been feeling the vibe that I was.
During the Civil War, Selma was a foundry town, manufacturing war ships and weapons. And in March of 1865 there was the Battle of Selma. 
A hundred years later in March of 1965, in an event that came to be known as Bloody Sunday, 600-ish civil rights marchers left Selma on highway 80, made it about six blocks, and were met on the downside of the Edmund Pettus bridge by Alabama State Troopers and local sheriff’s deputies with tear gas and billy clubs, who beat the marchers up, loaded them into paddy wagons, and drove them back to the other side of the bridge.
Arsenault led our class to the starting point of the march, and we followed him over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He also made us be quiet and reverent, which for once no one seemed to mind. I wanted to hustle ahead of the class and get a shot of everyone that honored a shot I had seen of the Bloody Sunday March.
But when we got on the bridge, I knew it would be unwise to do so.
Some drivers didn’t pull over. But others sped up and swiped close, one carload even said something smart.
Here, I vowed, whenever I see something where a group is gathered…
Whether or not I am late for work.
Or on my way to somewhere important.
Or distracted and irritated if they are in my way.
I can at the very least.
Slow down.
And give them a little honor, no matter what they are doing.
I tried like I did in Birmingham, another place that provided some of the most haunting imagery in this country’s history, to take some shots that capture both the reverence of the day and the moments of stillness.


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