Saturday, February 14, 2009

Jim on the Edmond Pettus bridge

On our second day in Selma, we ate lunch in the cafe where Reeb, Olsen, and Miller enjoyed a convivial dinner the evening of March 9 after the "turn around" march that followed "Bloody Sunday". Clark Olsen told of an uneventful dinner of soul food and then showed us where they were clubbed that led to Jim Reeb's death. Clark returned some years later to be present when a memorial to James Reeb was unveiled on the spot where he was beaten. It was touching to hear that Clark was able to tell Reeb's two daughters and grandchildren how the death of their father and grandfather was not in vain but led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that assured the rights of African Americans and others to vote.

The forty folks on our Pilgrimage, including Rev. Bill Sinkford, Gini Courter, the Beaufort Five walked quietly across the Edmond Pettus Bridge, two by two. I tried to imagine the feelings of those brave souls in 1965 that crested the bridge and saw the sea of blue waiting for them on the other side. Our guide for the day, was 11 years old when she walked on Bloody Sunday. She told of how they were beaten all the way back to the church. Her 14-year old sister had 26 stitches in her head, but still they walked hand-in-hand two days later and yet again when the walk to Montgomery was finally completed. Did I have that courage at 11 or 14? Do I have that courage today?

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