This weekend, Selma will commemorate 55 years since Bloody Sunday

This weekend, Selma will commemorate 55 years since Bloody Sunday

On the morning of March 7, 1965, hundreds of voting rights activists left Brown Chapel Church in Selma, Alabama, bound for Montgomery. Led by Hosea Williams and John Lewis, they made their way across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 

As they crossed the Alabama River, the “foot soldiers” were met by a sea of Alabama state troopers, who charged the marchers on horseback, beat them with billy clubs and doused them in a cloud of pepper spray. 

The day became known as Bloody Sunday — a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement.

» RELATED: As Congressman John Lewis turns 80, his friends celebrate his courage

Now, 5 1/2 decades later, events in Selma this weekend will commemorate Bloody Sunday and Selma’s role in the civil rights movement. The anniversary draws thousands of people to Selma annually. In years past that has included presidents, dignitaries, civil rights leaders and foot soldiers.

Congressman Lewis, who was badly beaten on Bloody Sunday, has usually attended the bridge re-enactment, but it’s unclear if he will be there this year, as he continues to seek treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Congressman John Lewis on the Edmund Pettus Bridge February 14, 2015. On March 7, 1965 Hosea Williams and John Lewis led 600 civil rights activists across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a march for voting rights. Lewis had no idea the level of violence that awaited the group on the other side of the bridge. In what would become known around the country as as Bloody Sunday, state troopers and sheriff deputies used tear gas and clubs to break up the march. Leaving Lewis with a skull fracture and sending more than 50 others to the local hospital for treatment. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ/bsanderlin@ajc.com

» From 2015: John Lewis revisits Selma

The annual Jubilee programming will include a bridge crossing, panel discussions, commemorative services and a breakfast where Stacey Abrams will speak and be honored with an award.

For Atlantans looking to make the trip to Selma (about a three-hour drive), here’s a look at some of the events taking place throughout the weekend. A complete schedule of events can be found here.

» RELATED: Stacey Abrams tapped for speech during Selma’s Bloody Sunday commemoration

Friday, Feb. 28

Cultural Competency Training 
When: 11 a.m.-noon
Where: George Corley Wallace State Community College Selma (Hank Sanders Building)
3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway, Selma

Healing Circle Workshop: Economic empowerment
When: noon-2 p.m.
Where: George Corley Wallace State Community College Selma (Hank Sanders Building)
3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway, Selma

Induction in the Women’s Hall of Fame
When: 3:45-4:15 p.m.
Where: National Voting Rights Museum
6 Highway 80 E, Selma

“Stomp Out to Vote” Step Show
When: 7-9 p.m.
Where: School of Discovery
400 Washington Street, Selma

Crowds of people take a symbolic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Sunday, March 8, 2015. Thousands of people took part in a bridge crossing reenactment in Selma on Sunday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/hshin@ajc.com

Saturday, Feb. 29

Foot Soldiers Breakfast
When: 8-9:30 a.m.
Where: Selma High School
2180 Broad St., Selma

Jubilee Parade
When: 9-10:30 a.m.
Where: Selma High School to Edmund Pettus Bridge, via Broad Street

Battle of the Bands
When:10:45-11:15 a.m. 
Where: School of Discovery
400 Washington Street, Selma

Jubilee Street Festival and Music
When: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Where: along Water Avenue

Freedom Flame Awards Gala
When: 7-10 p.m.
Where: Carl Morgan Convention Center
211 Washington St., Selma

» RELATED: Rep. John Lewis marks historic civil rights moment, calls for future action

Selma Alabama was the site of Bloody Sunday, a civil rights movement that would gain the attention of the country. On Sunday March 7, 1965 Hosea Williams and John Lewis led a group of 600 over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in an attempt to march to Montgomery to demand equal voting rights. The group was met by police who uses tear gas and clubs to disburse the group, sending more than 50 to the hospital. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJ/bsanderlin@ajc.com

Sunday, March 1

Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast
When: 7:30-9:30 a.m.
Where: George Corley Wallace State Community College Selma
3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway, Selma
Stacey Abrams will speak at this annual breakfast and is expected to be presented with the Martin and Corretta King National Unity Award.

Sunday morning services
When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Various churches throughout Selma, including: Tabernacle Baptist Church, Brown Chapel Church, Clinton Chapel and First Baptist Church

Bridge Crossing reenactment
When: 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Where: From Brown Chapel over the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Post-March Rally and Gospel Concert
When: 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Where: Foot of Edmund Pettus Bridge and along Water Avenue

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