50 Years Later, And Still Marching For Voters' Rights | WABE 90.1 FM

50 Years Later, And Still Marching For Voters' Rights

Mar 5, 2015

Marchers hold up a ''March On'' and ''Still They Marched'' signs as they make their way towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in 2015.
Credit Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," when civil rights marchers were attacked as they crossed over the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

From left, Danny Milam, his mother Chinnery Farris and Rev. Timothy McDonald talk about the civil rights movement and what it means to them in the ''A Closer Look'' studio.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Media coverage of the attacks, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s ultimately successful march from Selma to the state capital, Montgomery, created pressure that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

But 50 years later, many of those same activists and their supporters are gravely concerned that the democratic principle of "one person, one vote" is losing ground. Members of the Voter Empowerment Collaborative (VEC), who will be traveling to Selma to commemorate the march, visited "A Closer Look" to talk about what this anniversary means to them.

Chinnery Farris said visiting Selma means so much to her and her children "because they know how hard it has been for African-Americans to reach this milestone, just to have the right to vote."  

"If you don't know, " she said, "you could find yourself where you've already been."  

Her son, Danny Milam, is president of a Future Voters of America chapter, and he told us, "a kind of pride comes with it, to see that a race can come from so low, over so much discrimination. What was so special about it, was that it was non-violent."    

"I am so encouraged," Rev. Timothy McDonald, pastor of Iconium Baptist Church, said about Danny's message, "because if you think about it, 50 years ago, those who led that movement, they were young people."  

The VEC will focus on the 50th anniversary as an opportunity to call attention to HR 885, the Voting Rights Amendment Act that clarifies and restores provisions of Section Four of the original Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013, Rev. McDonald said.  

"We are nowhere near a 'postracial society'...So yes, we're going to seize on the Selma moment, but as soon as we finish crossing that bridge, we're getting ready for November the third," the reverend said.