In March 1965, Martin Luther King marched with thousands of other demonstrators from Selma, Alabama to the capital in Montgomery, protesting the ongoing organized resistance to blacks’ attempts to register to vote. In the face of hostility and acts of violence, King and his supporters, including hundreds of clergy and lay church leaders, marched for five days. By the end of the march, demonstrators numbered close to 25,000.
The brutality endured by King and his colleagues during the March from Selma—particularly Bloody Sunday—so outraged the public that it kindled federal attention and, according to many scholars, pushed the Civil Rights movement into the national conversation and contributed to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Where are we fifty years out from the March from Selma? What advances have been made in the fulfillment of King’s American Dream? Where are we still resisting the advance of racial parity and freedom of opportunity for all? And in what ways do people of faith today—clergy and lay—join in the ongoing march?
March from Selma: Fifty Years Later
The journey toward cultural transformation, toward social justice, toward civil rights begins with religion.
Maria Dixon Hall
In the face of the stark reality of African Americans in America, our progress has been more cosmetic than structural.
Let us recall the stories of history, and mine those in our present day, so we can adopt strategies of agency that conjoin dignity with "steady, loving, confrontation."
Many of us are too afraid or, worse, have become pacified with the riches granted by the Wall of "good enough" progress garnered through luck, individual hard work, or as some believe, divine intervention.
We celebrate Selma most truly when we pay attention to where it is happening today, but most of us are hardly aware of what's happening on the ground in the black-led freedom struggle today.
Jerry Z. Park
A lot of Americans today mistakenly believe that race relations improve naturally over the course of time, as if American history had no long term effects. This ahistoricity is both the exceptional and worrisome characteristic that plagues our conversations about race relations.
When I say "we're surely past all that," my friends can say "wait, your 'we' now includes me, and I think not."
As long as we see concern for the well-being of others as admirable but optional, our progress in racial parity and all other important issues will be incremental.
Hak Joon Lee
Our society needs a new movement and a new march. We need a movement for economic rights and justice in this time of underemployment and unemployment.
T. Thorn Coyle
My Gods call on me to deepen in wisdom, and to enjoy the lush gifts of this life. My Goddesses encourage me to stand for justice, and to live life out loud in honor of all that is sacred.
The High Calling
by Nathan Roberts When I saw the film Selma for a second time, I sat next to my friend Chloe. As the credits rolled, she turned to me and remarked: “You know, honestly, I can see why DuVernay wasn’t nominated for the Best Director Oscar.” “Hmm…” I said. In the lobby, she elaborated: “I just [Read More...]
Like him or not, there is something amazing about President Obama making a speech at Selma 50 years after Bloody Sunday. Crescendo moment: Restore the Voting Rights Act. Obama closed with Isaiah 40:31. Watch some footage of the march over the Pettus Bridge.
WHERE ONLY BLACK MEN JAYWALK We are rightly celebrating the bravery of people—both the famous and the forgotten—who contributed to the events at Selma, Alabama fifty years ago, events that led to a sea change in the civil rights of many US citizens. The anniversary has led inevitably to a question: Are things better now? [Read More...]
50 years ago is a very short time. Fifty years ago there loomed a war over the mind’s of Americans. In the south, preachers screamed vehemently and twisted the word of God to suggest that slavery and racism were God’s truth. Men and women found themselves beaten, raped, and tolerating all manners of abuse. Children [Read More...]
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, immortalized in iconic pictures like this: Selma stands as testament that we as a nation can overcome – voter suppression, intimidation, and fear. We can do so much together if we open our eyes. The endurance of the American Negro tested and [Read More...]
That’s what it took. Armed with prayer and nonviolence, six hundred women and men walked east toward the state capitol in Montgomery. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they would encounter a phalanx of state troopers wielding billy clubs and tear gas. And as the video above shows, they did not turn back. Sun. [Read More...]
I have posted previously on “Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall: Claiming Our Social Justice Story” in which I invited us to reflect on the activist legacy in this country. And today during the 50th anniversary month of the Selma to Montgomery Marches, the core questions I will be inviting us to reflect on is when the calls [Read More...]