President Joe Biden spoke this afternoon in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when law enforcement officers tried to beat into silence Black Americans marching for their right to have a say in the government under which they lived. Standing at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which had been named for a Confederate brigadier general, Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan, and U.S. senator who stood against Black rights, Biden said: “On this bridge, blood was given to help ‘redeem the soul of America.’”
Thank you, Professor for lighting a candle today and every day. We will never be free until every one is free.
Langston Hughes, we hear your voice:
LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN
Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.
(America never was America to me.)
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)
From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used with permission.
Reading this, wearing my GOOD TROUBLE sweatshirt, I find myself vacillating between sadness and fury. Those of us who still have the right to vote must work to register more voters and encourage voting, especially among young people, so that we can start to undo the backsliding into oppression, repression, and white supremacy. It is up to each of us to find ways to contribute to the reclaiming of our democracy.
Thank you for the much-needed refresher course in the bravery and tragedy of those who risked their lives for the right to vote. And the reminder of the brutality of those who oppose equality. They walk among us still.
The Roberts' Supreme Court poured the foundation for its own Hall of Shame in gutting the Voting Rights Act. And it's never looked back in building an America less free and more dangerous.
'Spending time with Martin Luther King Jr. and other activists awakened something in Webb-Christburg. "I gained some courage because I was around courageous people,” she said. "
'She witnessed Bloody Sunday in person. 58 years later, she’ll go back again.'
'There are only a small number of people who witnessed the historic, tragic event in person. Sheyann Webb-Christburg was the youngest of them'.
'MONTGOMERY, Ala. — On March 7, 1965, Sheyann Webb, a 9-year-old Black girl from Selma, Ala., sat in her bedroom, chest heaving, face streaked with tears, her throat still burning from tear gas.'
'Her parents were perched on her child-size bed having just calmed her screams. They watched as she wrote furiously, capturing the lyrics from a song, “Oh, Freedom,” she’d heard over and over during the past few months — ultimately gutted as they read to the end. She’d written about her own funeral arrangements.'
'That morning, Webb had been the youngest participant in the civil rights march that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday,” a 600-person demonstration in Selma that ended with law enforcement beating the protesters. She had dressed in capri pants, thrown her hair in a quick plait and put on her white and black oxfords — her “marching shoes.” Having snuck out of the house, she left a short note to her parents on the washing machine. She was apologetic for disobeying them. But ultimately, she wrote, “I am marching for our freedom.”
'It wasn’t the first time she’d done something like this. For two months, she had slipped out against her parents’ wishes, leaving to meet with and learn from civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis and Hosea Williams.'
'Now 67, she goes by the surname Webb-Christburg. Sitting on a wide chair in her home in Montgomery, less than an hour away from her childhood home, …'
'But with the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday this weekend, the degree to which that day remains with her is abundantly clear. She will make her yearly sojourn back to Selma this weekend — revisiting the time in her life when she could have perished.'
“I used to hear Dr. King and others talk about how sometimes you have to fight for your rights and even die. For what you know that’s right,” she told POLITICO. “That was the day when I really, truly understood what the song meant.” (Politico) For more of Webb-Christburg's account the link to her story is below.
Thank you, Heather. So very true! I walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge a few years ago. It was an amazing feeling! The name needs to be changed to The John Lewis Bridge! The experiences that I had in Selma was well worth the trip! I was having knee problems the day I walked across the bridge but it just made me appreciate the walk more!
This information is banned in Florida. /s
This story can't be told often enough. The depravity of those white elected officials and law enforcement and out-and-out Klansmen can be seen these days in the halls of Congress, many statehouses, and even the Supreme Court. Never, never forget. Never, ever stop fighting for the right to have a say in the government(s) under which we live.
There's so much to weep about, so much to be enraged about in recent days, months and years. It's as if someone unlocked the gates of hell and countless demons descended on us. Do we really have to retreat 50 years and fight all of these battles again? When the highest court in the land, governors and state legislatures in more than half of our states want to break down the guardrails of democracy, what does it say about America? Sadly, the rescinding of laws does not make our nation more free, but rather more violent and more dangerous. Freedom actually occurs in the context of a well developed network of laws protecting us all from...one another.
"And it makes me cry to see the things some men do to one another. It makes me cry to see the things some men do." Rod McKuen
Dear Heather. I am 76 but clearly remember these events when I was in high school in Phoenix. I became race-aware then and hopefully have done some good.
I can only suggest it is time to balance the Supreme Court. We are in bad-trouble until that gets done.
We just must keep fighting to protect voting rights, however we can, hoping it will still be possible to reverse the draconian voter discrimination laws that continue to be passed.
Such hatred and racism. It makes me ill. As a Jew, it’s never been as overt as it is now other than 1933. Biden has got to expand the court. I see no other option. TY HCR for the timeline.
Hard to tap that ‘like’ box for the distress this brings to my head & heart.
To be reminded that our Supreme Court which I grew up being taught was a superior group of legal experts has ‘gutted’ the Voting Rights Act. ~How do they sleep at night? ~
(Don’t answer that.)
They have stomped all over our private lives as child bearing women, ... and
More is yet to come from these millionaire legal experts... seated till they die... or withdraw from their appointment ...
We have SO much work to do ...
Good night dear HCR Ltrs friends.
The minister of our First Christian Church in Hayward, California polled the congregation for support for his trip to Salma to march. It passed with the slimmest of margins. While we exited the church I wanted to be a part of that movement so I handed my minister a twenty dollar bill. It was a lot of money in those days when I was earning $23.00 a shift on the railroad. I wish I could have afforded more but my wife and I were just starting out. We had just lost our president and were disillusioned with the course the country was taking. For many years we entertained hope for the country until 2016. Now in my eightieth year on this planet I am holding on to those old dreams when we as a nation could stand proud of our government and of the elected officials who promote democracy.
Reading today's LFAA, it seems that in real ways, not much has changed. How dare politicians suppress the right of people to duly register and cast their ballots and have those ballots counted.
I’ve had the great pleasure of going to Montgomery. And visited the National Lynching Museum and the associated outdoor exhibition. They play George Wallace speech about “segregation now, segregation forever “ speech loudly and on a loop. I’m not sure it’s changed there much since then. Thank you for the history Dr. Richardson.