50 years ago, American citizens were being killed in the fight for the right to vote. During three marches in March of 1965, civil rights activists seeking the right to register in Alabama were met by tear gas and Billy clubs. Local police and State troopers beat the non-violent protestors on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The televised violence galvanized the nation and Congress. President Johnson pushed through the 1965 voting rights act, one of the most significant pieces of legislation in the countries history.
Today, the courts have removed pieces of that legislation and some states are restricting access to the ballot box. The streets of the nation are filled with protestors challenging the police shootings of young black men.
Over the next few weeks, the University of Washington’s Chair of the Communication Department, David Domke, will examine the history and it’s importance today in a series of lectures, Marching to Selma: How MLK, LBJ & The Civil Rights Movement Changed The World.
We met to discuss the legacy of Selma at the NE Branch of the Seattle Public Library. (Hence the slightly hushed tones.)
David Domke says his meetings with the still living foot soldiers of those marches have profoundly changed him. He has traveled to the south three times with groups from the northwest. In March, he is taking another group of adults and college students to follow the path from Atlanta, through Memphis and on to Selma.
I will be on that journey and sharing stories with you about the legacy of the civil rights era and the emergence of a new activism.