Thousands come out for march, concert on Edmund Pettus

Published 8:12 pm Sunday, January 18, 2015

John Legend performed "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "Glory" on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

John Legend performed “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Glory” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (Alaina Denean | Times-Journal)


The Selma Times Journal

The Queen City shined in the spotlight Sunday as thousands of people welcomed the cast and crew of the movie “Selma” to town and marched on the same bridge that changed history 50 years ago.

Oprah Winfrey, alongside David Oyelowo, wave to the crowds Sunday at Selma City Hall.

Oprah Winfrey, alongside David Oyelowo, waves to the crowds Sunday at Selma City Hall. (Alaina Denean | Times-Journal)

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The film’s director Ava DuVernay, producers Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, stars David Oyelowo, Common and John Legend were all in Selma for the historic day to pay tribute to Selma and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The commemorative march began with a prayer vigil in front of Selma City Hall, where Mayor George Evans welcomed everyone.

“I’m so glad to have all of you here,” Evans said. “It’s been a great turnout for a very special cause and a very special purpose.”

A roar of applause followed the mayor’s welcome, as he proudly introduced each member of the cast and crew.

“[Oprah] Winfrey indicated as well as Ava [DuVernay] that they would be back to Selma sooner than I think,” Evans said. “And I am so proud and thankful that they have came back to be a part of what is going in Selma today.”

As Winfrey stood before the thousands of people in attendance, she thanked the people of Selma for letting her crew film the movie here and for the contributions the city made to history.

“Our hearts are saying thank you to Selma,” Winfrey said. “We thank you for being a symbol of what hope and progress, what grace and goodness can be and do.”

For the people of Selma, seeing the likes of Oprah Winfrey and the rest of the cast and crew, are moments many will never forget.

“It brings hope to Selma to know that they care enough to come back to see us and help bring the movie in,” said Latres Harrison, a Selma native.

“Glory” by Common and John Legend from The Selma Times-Journal on Vimeo.

Young or old, members of each generation that took part in the commemorative march felt the power of the moment.


Common performs “Glory” from the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (Alaina Denean | Times-Journal)

“With me being a teenager it just means so much because I get to actually feel the excitement that [civil rights activists] felt,” said Ivana Angion, a junior at Dallas County High School. “This is history coming to life, and it just means so much to me.”

After prayers rang out from the Rev. Dion Culliver of Tabernacle Baptist Church and the Rev. Leodis Strong of Brown Chapel AME Church, the cast and crew joined hands and lead community members on a march to the historical Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The significance of the commemorative march was felt far and wide, as people from across the United States were in Selma to share the moment.

“Standing on this bridge is incredible,” said Joseph Gaylin, a high school student from Baltimore. “I think that this is something that is very powerful, but it has to be harnessed in the right way [to make a difference.]”

As the sun began to set, hundreds of people stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge together for a performance of “Glory” by Common and John Legend, who also sung “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

“The whole time I’ve lived in Selma we’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Linda McCampbell, who watched on as Common and Legend performed. “This is real good for Selma, and I hope that it will be a come together thing.”

With the performance in the books, actor David Oyelowo, who portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the film, prayed for Selma.

“I pray that the young people will see the glory and the power of themselves to enact change,” Oyelowo said. “I thank you Selma for blessing us, and I pray that greater things we shall see in this day.”