Teachers’ march reunion to be held

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2005

This historic event that occurred on March 7, 1965,

known as “Bloody Sunday,” is well documented in America’s history. But there were other Voting Rights marches in Selma prior to the one that ended in violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge that have since been forgotten or ignored over time.

Organizers of one march, however, are working to preserve their contribution to the Movement.

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On Jan. 22, 1965, more than 100 members of the Selma Teachers Association marched two-by-two from Clark Elementary School to the Dallas County Courthouse in an attempt to register to vote.

It was the first time an organized union in Selma took up the cause for voter’s rights.

“(The march) had a big impact on the Movement,” said Lawrence Huggins, one of the participants in the Teachers’ March. “We wanted to be included in Thomas Jefferson’s ‘We the people’.”

Huggins, who was a teacher at R.B. Hudson High School at the time, said many of his students were skipping class to participate in marches and he realized that he needed to be involved too.

“Kids would say to me, ‘Coach, I’m getting you’re Civil Rights,’ and I thought we (the teachers) needed to get out and participate,” Huggins said.

Huggins said marchers were met with opposition from the Dallas County Sheriff and his deputies, but they were eventually escorted to the Board of Registrars Office and allowed to register to vote.

“We got a few registered to vote, but it wasn’t going to be enough to make a difference,” said Dorothy Huggins, Lawrence’s wife and fellow participant in the march.

Yet the marchers’ actions were enough keep the flame of the Movement alive and prompt the “Bloody Sunday” march.

“It had a big impact on the Movement,” Lawrence Huggins said. “At that time, there was a stalemate. We gave the movement the emphasis it needed between that time and Bloody Sunday.”

With the 40th anniversary of the Teacher’s March this weekend, the Huggins’ are working with the National Voting Rights Museum to host a reunion for all those who participated in the march.

The reunion is set to take place at 1 p.m. Friday at The Gathering Place, located next-door to the Voting Rights Museum.

Among the teachers who participated in the march, 61 are still alive and 47 of them still live in Selma.

“We are going to have former teaches speak about their participation in the march,” Lawrence said. “This is our way of saying ‘thanks’ those who put their jobs and their lives on the line for the Movement.”