Student Walks Through Civil Rights History in Alabama

Ebony Bradley '13 was part of a re-enactment of the walk across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

Ebony Bradley ’13 will always remember her “life-changing experience” in early March when she joined a sea of dignitaries and VIPs in a walk of remembrance across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. They were re-enacting the historic voting rights march of March 7, 1965—known as Bloody Sunday—when 600 peaceful civil rights demonstrators were met by armed officers on their way to Montgomery, the state capital. This time, instead of bloody conflict awaiting them on the other side of the bridge, a gaggle of news photographers was present to record the anniversary walk.

“As we made our way across the bridge, I thought to myself, ‘I’m a part of history right now,’” Bradley recalls. “Acknowledging how important that day was in America’s history and how life-changing it was for those who walked the bridge back then, and for us now, was so inspiring.”

Bradley was one of a select group of young people invited this year to participate in the 11th annual Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Faith and Politics Institute. In the group’s travels to historic sites in Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, she had plenty of opportunities to learn from members of the congressional delegations and other notables on the trip.

“When in my life again will I be able to talk with Jesse Jackson about a painting we stood before in a museum? I spoke with the sister of a young girl who died in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham back in 1963. I heard what it was like to hear the bombs going off and what it was like to know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. So many times during the trip, some amazing person would walk up behind me and strike up a conversation about the civil rights movement.

“I learned so much I didn’t know before. This was a part of history—my history and America’s history. Now, I want to urge students to dig deeper into the civil rights movement, and encourage history teachers to teach more about it. You learn about Dr. King and Rosa Parks—the well-known figures. But there are so many unsung heroes who deserve to be known and whose personal stories can help people understand better how this movement changed history.”

A sociology and Spanish major from Reading, Pa., Bradley’s goal is to pursue graduate study in social justice. “I’d like to educate young people about social justice and encourage them to act, to help change things for the better.”

Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Charlotte Lotz ‘12, Megan McDermott ‘14, Betsy K. Robertson and Karen M. Jones, assistant director of media relations.

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