Estimate places Jubilee crowd at 10,000

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 7, 2005

A famous Life magazine cover shows a young John Lewis leading a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In the foreground, a state trooper awaits.

Lewis and the other marchers came two-by-two down the sidewalk, to avoid being arrested for obstructing a state highway, as he later explained.

When the troopers and county possemen met them on the other side, the police unleashed a hellish attack that forever changed the face of America.

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Yesterday, 40 years later, Lewis, now a congressman in Georgia, led dozens of other representatives across the bridge, in a commemoration of that day, called ‘Bloody Sunday.’

This time the State Troopers blocked traffic on the same state highway, so that the estimated 10,000 marchers who participated in the event could get across peacefully. Some of the troopers even took pictures, as members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and national leaders crossed over.

Throughout the march, which started at Brown Chapel on Martin Luther King Street, marchers from all over the world sang songs, chanted and kept smiles plastered on their faces.

The march, held every year, honors the heroes of the Voting Rights Movement and of ‘Bloody Sunday.’

Participants in the event said it was an honor to be a part.

“It’s because of this march I have a job today,” Felicia Pettway, Dallas County Registrar said. “I am proud to be in that office.”

Dr. Avimelech Bin Israel led the Bin Ami group from Atlanta in the march. He said for them it was about being a part of the world more.

“It’s holistic,” he said. “It represents our people and the spirit of nonviolence.”

Bin Israel also said the event was just plan fun.

“It’s fantastic,” he said.

A group from the Dayton, Ohio area, the Graetz considered the event a pilgrimage.

“We were involved here (40) years ago,” Jeannie Graetz said. “He (Bob Graetz) marched on the last day.”

For Charsha Mauldin, a college student in Detroit, the trip was about honoring her family.

“My father (Charles Mauldin) was one of the foot soldiers,” she said.

Joseph Owens, an 11-year-old, grew up in the Jubilee marches.

From Greensboro, the boy can’t remember a time when he didn’t attend the celebration.

“My mom said she took me a lot of years when I was younger,” he said.

Wilma Asubop brough her son Anethea to the march. She said she participates to remind herself of a higher calling.

“I’m here today to hold onto those precious values and remember (the movement),” she said.

The organizers said the event was a total success.

“This has been a tremendous weekend,” Organizer Sam Walker said. “I think the 40th Anniversary will be worth remembering.”

Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. kept a low profile during the ceremonies and festivities, but he did say the whole event was about reaffirming the struggles of the past and looking ahead.

“It’s an extraordinary event to commemorate the lives and the legacy,” he said. “Equally important is the focus on our future and where we go from here.”

Perkins referenced Selma’s motto: “From Civil War to Civil Rights and beyond.”

“I’m focusing on the beyond,” he said.

Basil Sabra, a musician from Montreal, said he was in town to pay homage to the Movement and honor the relevance of the work of the past.

“We came down here to share the experience, to learn, to take with me the preachings from the wise,” he said, “to take that as an inspiration. This is a crash course in how to get peace and justice.”