Foot soldier shares story at Edgewood Elementary

Published 4:18 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Dianne Harris was only 15 when she marched across Edmond Pettus Bridge in 1965.

She shared her experience with the fourth graders of Edgewood Elementary School on Wednesday morning.

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Harris has spoken to schools before, but this was her first chance to speak with the students at Edgewood.

“I wanted to be back at my school,” said Harris.

Harris taught at Edgewood Elementary for 27 years before she retired.

After all the students filed into the Edgewood Cafetorium, Harris began to place in context the importance of the voting rights march by telling the children about growing up in a Jim Crow era society.

“In order to vote, blacks had to pass an Alabama Literacy Test so difficult a person with a PhD could not have passed it,” said Harris.

Harris also informed the students about other unpassable tests used to prevent blacks from voting like trying to guess how many jelly beans were in a gallon-sized jar or how many bubbles were in a bar of soap.

Harris also talked to the students about her experience on Bloody Sunday where she was stuck in her right arm by a cattle prod. Harris and her brother were toward the back of the group who walked across Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 9, 1965.

“It was all about getting our parents the right to vote,” said Harris. “When you turn 18 the first thing I want you to do is go to the Dallas County courthouse and register to vote.”