Editor’s note: A group of UW-Eau Claire students traveled Tuesday, March 3, to Selma, Ala., with Associate Professor of Journalism Jan Larson to report on civil rights issues and the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. They will be in Selma until Tuesday, March 10, and will post updates of what they experience.
Almost immediately after arriving, we headed over to the Selma Community Church, where Lynda Blackmon Lowery gave a presentation to a small group of students from the University of South Florida, as well as us.
Lowery has lived in Selma for her entire life and was 14 years old when she marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. She was 19 rows back when mounted state troopers stormed the crowd with tear gas and billy clubs.
Her experiences that day — running from troopers, being beaten so severely that she required 35 stitches, finding her little sister injured and seemingly dead in the arms of another marcher, and ultimately helping her escape danger, inspired Lowery to want to march to Montgomery to personally show Gov. George Wallace the bandages around her head.
She was scared, but it was something her grandmother said that kept her going, and that was determination over fear. As Lowery said, ‘d’ comes before ‘f’ in the alphabet.
Fifty years later, Lowery now works as a case manager for a mental health institute in the city, but she continues to talk about her experiences from 1965 and promotes her grandmother’s message of mind over matter to continue the fight today.
Lowery will be on stage with President Barack Obama Saturday when the commander in chief visits Selma as part of the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march.