East Tennesseans travel to Selma for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”

East Tennesseans joined thousands of people in Selma, Alabama to mark a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.

SELMA, Ala. (WATE) – Saturday marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights milestone known as “Bloody Sunday.” It’s widely credited with the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On this historic day, 600 demonstrators set off to march 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. It was meant to be a day of peace, but instead would prove to be one of the most brutal moments in the Civil Rights Movement.

PHOTOS: Selma 50 Years Later

Fifty years later, people from across the nation went back to Selma.

Henrietta Caldwell drove from Clinton, Tennessee after just watching the film “Selma” last week.

“After I saw the movie it really inspired me,” she said. “I heard the story before but he really it just gave me more insight on what was happening so when this trip came up I thought I want to see this first hand for myself.”

Caldwell tells says being able to cross the bridge on Sunday will be emotional and she hopes the foot soldiers legacy continues.

“The progress of the ones that came before us and the sacrifices that they made is a start but we’ve got to get it through our young people’s to let them know they have to carry on, said Caldwell.

While some are inspired, others remember their most vivid memories from the civil rights movement, including Charlie Fenton, a member of Congress of Racial Equality.

“One of my greatest moments was to meet Dr. King, I remember him talking about wishing he could be with his daughter on his birthday,” he said. “He was a very gentle soul and his voice was so soft.”

For Caldwell, seeing President Obama at the bridge was she knew no one expected here 50 years ago.

“I feel great because a few months ago he was in Clinton, Tennessee and I was so excited and it just really made a difference for him to be in Tennessee and I’m sure the people here in Selma feel the same way,” said Caldwell.

PHOTOS: President Obama in Selma

On Sunday, there will be a pre-march rally here at the Brown Chapel AME church. 100,000 people will gather and line up all down the street before crossing the bridge.

Here’s a timeline looking back on “Blood Sunday.”


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