A march to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic and bloody Selma marches of 1965, catalytic events that led to the passage of the U.S. Voting Rights Act will be held Sunday, March 8, 2 p.m. at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. This march is open to the public.
Cheryl Chatman, Executive Vice President and Dean of Diversity at Concordia University-St. Paul, one of the organizers, said that many local religious, academic, and civil rights institutions have come together to plan the march. “We feel it is critically important to remember this major turning point in the U.S. Civil Rights struggle—and to underscore the Civil Rights work that still needs to be done,” she said.
People interested in joining the march are asked to arrive at the Minnesota State Capitol at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8, for a brief introductory program. The half-mile route will cross the Cedar Street Bridge over I-94, recalling the Selma marchers who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge en route to protest laws and practices that denied Black people the right to vote. The St. Paul march will end at Central Presbyterian, 500 Cedar Street, followed by a program at the church beginning approximately 3 p.m. Information on the event also is available at Crossing Bridges MN website: http://crossingbridgesmn.com/
As recounted in the recent film “Selma,” there were three Selma Marches in the spring of 1965. The first one, March 7 (Bloody Sunday) ended when local law enforcement brutally attacked 600 nonviolent marchers after they crossed the Pettus Bridge. The second march happened two days later. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. invited faith leaders from across the country to join. While this march reached several thousand participants, King turned the marchers back at the bridge rather than risk another attack. The third march, the Selma-to-Montgomery March, started on March 21, bolstered by a federal court ruling affirming the marchers’ right to protest. On March 24, 25,000 people entered Alabama’s Capitol city in support of African American voting rights.
This event is but one of many marches planned across the country, including those in Selma, one of which will be attended by a large group from the Twin Cities at the same time as the St. Paul event. These many efforts acknowledge the fact that we are stronger together in bringing justice to this broken and hurting world. The St. Paul march will be a moment to pause and celebrate the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and countless others who have fought for desegregation, voting rights, and civil liberties. It is also a moment to pause and reflect on all the work that still needs to be done. Now is the time for us to inspire each other to new levels of action and solidarity for justice, specifically related to addressing racial disparities in everything from incarceration rates and voting rights, to education, employment, and economic well-being.