This past Saturday, I watched on CNN as Obama spoke at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. I was glad just to be watching the events unfold live. The longer I watched, the prouder I felt to be culturally connected to the many struggles that have been overcome by the efforts of black men like Martin Luther King and Hosea Williams; producing President Barack Obama.
As I watched, I questioned (as I often do) the time, thought and energy that I put into educating myself on race issues and attempting to bring awareness to them as I see necessary. It seems that so much was done during the eras of slavery and segregation that there is nothing left to fight for. There is plenty though; as long as lives are being lost there is plenty to fight for. The tricky part now is finding out what angles to fight the injustices from as most of them are covered by laws riddled with loopholes (i.e., The Stand-Your-Ground law).
There is enough for me to fight for and still make a difference; even if it is just in my community. Besides, the fight for Civil Justice, could soon turn into a fight for Religious Rights — this could be practice.
Sunday morning, I headed to Selma with a tank full of gas, a heart full of pride and a very inquisitive little sister.
On the way, we got more and more anxious with every road sign marked for Selma. The traffic was thick, but flowed smoothly. We saw license plates from all over the country, but being an Alabama native gave me game an attitude to want to welcome everyone else to the state. There was no horn-blowing, no fighting for parking spaces (even though there were none), and everyone seemed to know everyone. I found myself in conversation multiple times with people that I had never even seen before; yet I cannot call them strangers. The theoretical sense of unity that I often speak of was present there; all of our differences were overlooked by perspective, compassion and love.
When I first laid eyes on the Edmund Pettus Bridge from five blocks away, I took it as the sight of our Statue of Liberty. It was beautiful, and I could not wait to get to it (neither did the thousands of other people there).
As I read the name, Edmund Pettus, stretching across top of the bridge, I saw an awful name, that represented an awful person, and should remind us of an awful past. Instead we took that awful person’s name and monument and made it a symbol of equality and freedom that is now more closely related to our triumph than our bondage.
My march across that bridge represent more to me than I realize yet. I am still taking in the fact that I was there for such an event in history. I believe as time goes on, I will be able to build from what I experienced on the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama.