On March 7, 1965, Civil rights leaders Ralph Bunche, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ralph Abernathy in front of three of the four Oaklanders on the Selma March. Upper right, from left to right: Will Battles, Paul Cobb and Milton Hare. Post Publisher Cobb was on assignment from the Post and radio station KDIA covering the March. Cobb interviewed King and King told Cobb that Berkeley’s Rev. Dr. Hazaiah Williams had helped him at Boston University.
Singing old civil rights songs and led by veteran and younger civil rights activists, several thousand protesters marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 4, beginning a trek that will take them to Montgomery, Alabama. Forty-Seven years ago, on March 7, 1965, marchers crossed the same bridge on the way to Montgomery to protest for voting rights. They didn’t make it that day. Instead, police attacked them so savagely that the march had to be delayed. The attack by police proved to be a historic moment in the nation’s civil rights struggle. It sickened the nation and led Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act. “Hundreds of men and women courageously risked their lives in the name of justice, equality and freedom. Despite the many dangers awaiting them, those brave men and women marched to the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge forever challenging a nation thereby forever ensuring their important place in the fabric of American history,” said Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. While celebrating the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement, supporters of equal rights also recognize the work is far from complete, he said. “Throughout the United States, dozens of new voting laws have been proposed and enacted making it harder for citizens to register and to vote,” he said. “The new state voting laws will make it much more challenging to cast votes for more than 5.5 million eligible voters.” He participated in the march this year, Cleaver said, “To commemorate the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, reflect upon the lives lost, and commit to doing all within my power to ensure we never return to that dark place in time. I along with the members of the Congressional Black Caucus remain committed to working diligently and with urgency to ensure every eligible person is properly equipped to cast their votes.”