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Jennifer Dispatch

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I Can Too Vote!


Jen marches up the Edmund Pettus Bridge

Are there bridges near where you live? Chances are there's a bridge over a river somewhere, or over some old train tracks. Either way, I bet when you go over a bridge you try to look down over the side to see what's below. That's the best part, right?

Well, there's a bridge way down in Selma, Alabama where, 36 years ago, all the action was on top of the bridge. It's called the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and one Sunday, hundreds of people tried to walk across it to prove something.


Who were they? Who were these people dressed in their Sunday best clothes? What did they want?

They wanted what they already had. They wanted to vote in elections.

The people on the bridge that day were black - African-Americans as we say today. They law said they could vote. White men could vote. Women could vote. Everybody could vote, couldn't they?

The Courthouse where people stopped blacks from signing up to vote

Well, the law said black people could vote, but a lot of white people didn't like that, and didn't let them.

So the people on the bridge, dressed in their best Sunday clothes, decided to walk 54 miles to tell the governor they wanted to vote. But they were stopped before they made it across. White policemen hit them with clubs and sprayed tear gas to make them turn back. They didn't even leave women and children alone - they got hurt, too.

But these were strong people. Two days later they went back to the bridge, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The march was peaceful.

Yay! They made it to Montgomery!

Dr. King got the government to protect the marchers. Two weeks later they walked 12 miles a day to get to the capital, Montgomery, Alabama. They slept in fields along the way. By the time they got to Montgomery, there were 25,000 people.

That's a lot of people! Their peaceful marching made a difference. Later that year, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That law let the government send people to make sure black people could sign up to vote.

Finally, things were a little more equal.


Please email me at: Jennifer1@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - Get on the bus, it's time for equality
Neda - The dream that inspired a nation