Paving the Way for Equality

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and in celebration of the latest historic film, Selma, I would like to dedicate my article to those who paved the way for equality. Bloody Sunday is a reference to the unprovoked attack on March 7, 1965 by state troopers on peaceful marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, en route to the state capitol in Montgomery. Many of the lifestyles we live today would not be possible if it weren’t for these courageous, respectful and honorable individuals.

Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe

All of the known and unknown people who gave life and limb during the Civil Rights Movement 1954-1968 are heroes. Everyone involved were from different races, economic backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities and religious denominations. It didn’t matter where you lived and how much money your family had, they all risked their lives in order for African-Americans to share in the same rights as everyone else and to be able to do so without fear of violence.

In our country’s constitution, it is stated that, “all men are created equal,” though many parts of the country, particularly the southern states, all men were not treated equally at the time. These individuals protested and marched so that many of us can say we attend the schools, churches, restaurants, public events and ride whatever mode of transportation we want wherever we want. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Johnson in August of 1965 and it closely resembles the 15th Amendment, stating that no one be denied voting by any state based on race, color or previous servitude restating that all are able to vote without prejudice.

Freedom to vote and equal rights and responsibilities helped our nation progress more than anyone could have known. Minorities are now able to hold elected positions like judges, state representatives, congress and council persons, senators and even become the President of the United States based on their character and not their race. In order to get a better understanding of how day-to-day life was in the Civil Rights Era from different perspectives, I have listed a few fiction and non-fiction titles, respectively:

A Summer of Kings by Han Nolan

To the Mountaintop: My Journey through the Civil Rights Movement by Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America  by Russell Freedman

When the Children Marched: the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement by Robert Mayer

-Renesha, Teen Services, Newburg Branch