March 7, 2015 I traveled to Selma, Alabama with 164 fellow Lake Charles, La. residents by bus, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March.

I'm so glad I made the decision to attend the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Selma to Montgomery March.  Fifty years ago, African American could go to war and fight for America, but was given the same rights of fellow white Americans.  We could die for this country in war, but couldn't vote.  Crazy right?  Fifty years ago several hundred brave souls, said enough.  They set history in motion, with the historic Freedom March and are responsible for getting the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  

Saturday March 7, 2015, I got an opportunity to honor them and celebrate their achievement.  It was surreal being in Selma, standing near the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and realizing what had happened in that very spot 50 years ago.

I felt of mixture of emotions.  Pride, because as I stood among the 10's of thousands on that day, I know that America has come a long way.  Our first black president was there to speak, in a place where we weren't even considered human only 50 short years ago.  Hurt, for those who endured tremendous suffering, unjust treatment and the loss of their loved ones.  Anger, because people were murdered do to the color of their skin and because they wanted exercise the right of any American and vote.

I was also disgusted, like many who attended the 50th anniversary celebration who have family members or know people that don't vote or are not even registered to vote.  That topic was a discussion among those in the crowd as we all waited patiently for President Barack Obama to speak.  We all talked about how hard it is to believe that after all African Americans in Selma went through, a lot of us do not and will not vote.  I'll leave that subject alone, for another time and discussion.

As far as the trip, I will say that I had a wonderful time.  My riding partner was Mrs. Pye Brown and we talked and laughed the entire time.  I was intrigued by her stories.  She is 85-years young and was 35-years old when the Freedom March took place in 1965.  It was interesting to hear her account of the aftermath of Bloody Sunday.  She spoke about how race affected and didn't affect her growing up in North Louisiana and how she felt about race issues here in the America today.

So the bus ride for me was pretty cool.  One things for sure, Lake Charles went to Selma, Alabama in big numbers.  Three 55 passenger coach buses pulled out of the city Saturday morning March 7, at 1 a.m.  Mayor Randy Roach came out to see us off, even though he was sick.  We were the only Lake Charles residents bound for Alabama, I know several other area citizens who even drove.  The trip took was about 7 hours or so.  Prior to arriving in Selma, we stopped at Cracker Barrel in Meridian, Mississippi to eat breakfast.

Me and the girls
Breakfast selfie

When when we arrived in Selma, the downtown scenery looked a lot like Lake Charles. There were tons old buildings, gorgeously restored Victorian homes and huge trees full of moss lining the streets.

We had no problem getting into the downtown area in those big buses either.  When we got off the buses, I was wondering were everyone was at.  We didn't see anyone really, till we walked about a block in a half toward the secret service check point area.   When we got down the road a little further, there were literally thousands of people standing in line. We all had to pass through the Secret Service check point, to get to the area where the president was going to be.

photo by Dr-Kathy A. Lewis-Thomas

 

photo by Jackie Frank
photo by Debra Lastrapes

Beyond the check point we walked into another portion of the downtown area, toward the foot of the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.  In another area, there were countless vendors selling everything from programs, commemorative T-shirts, tote bags, etc. to a variety of food.  There was also a stage for the various entertainment to perform throughout the weekend.

photo by Cullen Washington
photo by Cullen Washington

 

Selma program

photo by Jackie Frank
photo by Dr-Kathy A. Lewis-Thomas

photo by Dr-Kathy A. Lewis-Thomas

A ton of celebrities were there to march the monumental event.  Former President George Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush were there, as well as the Rev. Jessie Jackson, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters and many other politicians, actors and entertainers.

photo by Cullen Washington-Rev. Jessie Jackson, Cullen Washington and Charles Edwards
Vanessa Washington, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rob Neal

 

 

photo by Dr-Kathy A. Lewis-Thomas, family and friends

I'm not the best at holding the camera still.  My arms were killing me and my fingers went numb.  Somehow I managed to film a good bit.  Below is video coverage I filmed featuring Selma's Mayor George Patrick Evans, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and the wonderful speech from Rep. John Lewis.  I ran out of camera space during the presidents speech, but found his entire speech on YouTube. Of course the POTUS delivered an inspiring speech.  I will never forget having the opportunity to be in his presence at such a memorable event.  By the way the presidents daughters Sasha and Malia and the First Lady Michelle Obama were also in attendance.

photo by Dr-Kathy A. Lewis-Thomas-The President of the United States of America

Big shout out to my neighbors and friends Eric and Mona Doshier for having the unselfish idea to invite the city to participate in a once in a lifetime trip.  Shout out to everyone who lent there wonderful photos to this post as well.  Thank you all!

Eric and Mona Doshie