Thousands of people crowded an Alabama bridge on Sunday, many jammed shoulder to shoulder, many unable to move, to commemorate a bloody confrontation 50 years ago between police and peaceful protesters that helped bring about the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
A day after President Barack Obama had walked atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge, police said tens of thousands of people had joined the crush on and around the small bridge. Many came from around the country for several events commemorating the landmark moment.
Tens of thousands of people paraded across a Selma, Alabama bridge on Sunday to commemorate the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march, not waiting for dignitaries who had planned to lead them in marking the 50th anniversary of a turning point in the U.S. civil rights movement.
In contrast to the police violence that marked the original march half a century ago, the mood was often celebratory, at times festive, as an estimated 70,000 demonstrators cheered, sang “We Shall Overcome” and carried signs as they walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965, took its name from the beating that roughly 600 peaceful civil rights activists sustained at the hands of white state troopers and police who attacked them with batons and sprayed them with tear gas.
The movement does not look the way it did some fifty years ago. With advancements and accessibility in technology paving the way for “cyber activism,” there are now a variety of mediums people are using to speak out. But some are not convinced that this is enough.
“We have to stop looking at things as fads and trends and hashtags on Twitter and Social media and we have to do the paperwork behind it like the NAACP did,” Anastacia Davis, a sophomore at ASU, said. “You can post, but what else are you going to do to back up that post?”
Davis said young people need to keep the movement moving forward to preserve the legacies of resistance while making new contributions to a better world.
“We are known as Generation Y,” she said. “We determine what our future is going to be.”