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VOL. 39 | NO. 10 | Friday, March 6, 2015

Busloads of Nashvillians go to Bloody Sunday commemoration

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Organizers of a trip to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the "Bloody Sunday" march of 1965 say they hope youth making the trek will be inspired by those individuals who sacrificed their lives so they might have the opportunities they do today.

Five busloads of people left Nashville on Sunday headed for Selma, where police brutality 50 years ago on Bloody Sunday galvanized America's opposition to racial oppression in the South and hastened passage of historic voting rights.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama paid tribute to civil rights leaders and others who risked their lives by leading a symbolic march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge where throngs who protested their lack of voting rights were beaten by police.

The Nashville group was to participate in more events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the march. Gloria Haugabook McKissack, a retired college history teacher who participated in lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville, was the main organizer of the trip from Nashville. She's part of a national organization that mentors young people, and said the trip was initially just for them.

"This started out as their annual trip, and it just grew as people began to hear that we were going to make this journey," McKissack said. "And I ended up with five buses of people."

The buses carried civil rights leaders — some Freedom Riders — lawmakers, city council members and college students. One bus was filled with youngsters from a local youth development center. McKissack and other adults on the trip said they hope that group, some of whom are offenders, will have a different mindset after talking with actual participates in the Bloody Sunday march.

"It's up to us ... to explain to them what actually happened and why this march is happening," said Ernest "Rip" Patton, a Nashville Freedom Rider who made the trip. "They should walk up to somebody and say, 'were you a part of this 50 years ago?' And get the history."

During the trip, youth were given an opportunity to talk with civil rights leaders who accompanied them, and also discuss what they learned from their experience in Selma.

"I think this is a great opportunity for our youth, especially those who have had some experience in the juvenile court system, to actually see the nonviolence approach and how people working together can make a lot of difference in the world," said Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway, who was on the bus with the youth.

"It will go a long way for them in their walk in life, and hopefully put them back on the right track."

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