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1965. A leader of SNCC, arrested countless times in civil rights struggles, John Lewis was at the head of the march from Selma to Montgomery. It was to be known as "Bloody Sunday," a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.
One of the reasons for the march was that in neighboring Perry County a young Black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, had been shot in the stomach and killed by state troopers while he was on a peaceful march. When we got up on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, we saw a sea of blue - Alabama state troopers. The Dallas County sheriff had deputized all white men over twenty-one who showed up. They were on horseback with bullwhips and clubs. The moment we got across the bridge, the commander of the state troopers said, "This is an unlawful march. I'm giving you three minutes to disperse." Only about a minute and a half elapsed when he shouted, "Troopers advance." They waded into the crowd and beat us. I remember so well when I was hit on the head with a club and later choking from tear gas. The horses were trampling over people and I could hear hollering and shouting. I got up and was knocked down again. I don't remember how I got back to the Brown Chapel AME Church. I do remember standing up in the pulpit and saying, "I don't understand how President Johnson can send troops to Vietnam, to the Congo, to Santa Domingo, and cannot send troops to protect people who want the right to vote in Selma, Alabama."