Remembering the Heroes of Bloody Sunday

Congressman John Lewis Viciously Beaten as SNCC Leader
A Pivotal Event in the Struggle Against White Supremacy in America

On March 7, 1965, 54 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lewis of SNCC – now a venerable Democratic Congressman – and other Civil Rights leaders led a March from Selma Alabama to the state capitol of Montgomery to protest the horrible system of white supremacy. Although it was a peaceful march based on the philosophy of “passive resistance, the marchers were viciously attacked by violent white racist!

However the violence of the crazed rednecks back fired because the entire episode was captured on film by the Television networks and broadcast around the world. This was a seminal even in the history of the struggle to dismantle the evil oppressive system of racial caste oppression in the US because it exposed the truth about the bogus claim that America is “the home of the brave and land of the free” where “All men are created equal.”

This was no picayune matter, because the US was locked in an intense ideological struggle with the powerful Soviet Union of Russia to recruit the hundreds of millions of people in the Third World nations of Africa, Asia, South America and the islands of the seas. Most of these millions were living in African and Asian countries that were just throwing of the oppressive yoke of European colonialism in the aftermath of World War II, when European world order had collapsed due to the cost in blood and treasure extracted by the second great war in a generation.  And the US government’s oppression of it’s on citizen’s of color alienated them from America.

There are studies which show the great anxiety of the US government when US Ambassadors, and other diplomats, were accosted by reporters and citizens around the world. For instance, historian Mary L. Dudziak tells us in her path breaking book Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy: “Within this context, racial discrimination, especially when it was broadcast to international audiences, became problematic to the Cold War effort itself.” Representatives of the American government were barraged with questions about the hypocrisy of US claims to being the bastion of freedom and equality, yet keep millions of their citizens in a state of tyrannical oppression that exceeded ANYTHING the US was self-righteously protesting in the communist world!!!

The US government had no answer for this that was not viewed with ridicule, as the masses of African and Asia increasingly either allied themselves with the Communist camp or adopted a non-aligned position that viewed both sides based on how the supported our struggles.  They had no permanent friends or enemies…just permanent interests!

It was this response of the Third world community that served as a major impetus for the US government to act dramatically to eradicate the racial caste system whether by law or or tradition. This march in Alabama 54 years ago was a pivotal event in ending this evil racist system in the United states; 100 years after the end of the Civil War that abolished Afro-American slavery in Alabama and throughout the American south.  It also ended the dominance of The Southern Christian Leadership Conferences’ vision of the Southern struggle.

On the next march – which attracted a vast and diverse gathering and the US government was forced to protect them from violent attacks by white racist terrorists because the eyes of the world were focused like lasers on the march – Stokely Carmichael and H. “Rap” Brown of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, introduced “Black Power”as the slogan,  for their Black Panther political party in Lowndes County / Selma Alabama, where courageous young college students were mobilizing Afro-American citizens to exercise their right to vote.  The introduction of the concept of Black Power and organizing the Black Panther Party qualitatively changed the course of the black liberation movement in the United States.

Watch NBC’s report on the march and hear critical interviews with Dr. King and others who give in-depth analysis of the struggle against racism at the time. This is a priceless, a living archive of the times, whose sense of immediacy is preserved by the miracle of the moving image with sound. Relive this critical event, and feel the tenor of the times at:

https://www.nbcnews.com/video/bloody-sunday-a-flashback-of-the-landmark-selma-to-montgomery-marches-1191243331868

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Playthell G, Benjamin
February 3, 2019
Harlem, New York

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