Atmore residents recall march

Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama, along with former President Bill Clinton, visited Selma on Sunday to rejoice the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and to commemorate "Bloody Sunday."
Dr. Ullysses McBride, an Atmore native, said the fact that Obama and Hillary Clinton came to Selma was not a key moment for either of them. He believes that just because they visited Selma for a momentous cause, the trip was not necessarily essential for their presidential campaigns.
"Thousands of people come to Selma for historical movements," McBride said. "I don't think it was a defining moment for either one of them."
McBride said the United States has had minorities run for the position of President before, but Obama may be too young to take on the responsibility and the former President Clinton may be overshadowing his wife. Just because they came to Selma does not change these two facts.
"We have had minorities run for President before," he said. "It is a little early for Obama to run for President. I am happy that he's 35 and wants to run for President but I think it's just a little early for him and people are just looking over Hillary's shoulder. I wish them both well especially because they are Democrats. "
Lillie Johnson, recent retiree of Masland Carpets, believes it was great that the presidential candidates came to Selma.
"I thought it was great that they took the time out to celebrate," Johnson said. "There was a lot of bloodshed that happened that day. They (the candidates) could have ignored the bloodshed, but they didn't."
It is a matter of opinion whether or not coming to Selma was a significant moment for Obama and Clinton, but it is a fact that they were in Alabama to remember a moment that was crucial for Selma, the state of Alabama and the United States.
March 7, 1965 was a tragic day for 600 marchers as they tried to cross over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The marchers were attempting to walk 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery to demonstrate for African-American voting rights and also to honor the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, who had been shot three weeks earlier at a civil rights demonstration.
The marchers only walked about six miles when they reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge. As they reached the bridge, policemen and State Troopers brutally attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas. This attack has become known as "Bloody Sunday."
On March 9, 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. led a "symbolic" march to the bridge and on March 21, 1965, around 3,200 marchers left Selma for Montgomery. By the time they reached the Capitol, there were 25,000 marchers.
Within five months of these three marches, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed.
Johnson is thankful to those who lost their lives on "Bloody Sunday."
"It affects me because if we hadn't had people to die that day we wouldn't be where we are now," she said. "There were good people back then that died, good white people died too. I am thankful we had people to come out and lay their lives down."
There have been many steps forward since the act was passed but there are still steps to be made.
"We've had a lot of progress since 'Bloody Sunday,'" Johnson said. "But we still have a long way to go. Until all races come together as one we'll always have a long way to go."
Both Obama and Clinton spoke at a church Sunday morning. After their speeches they joined civil rights leaders and public officials in the annual walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in remembrance of the tragic events that happened March 7, 1965.

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