New Day, Old Struggle for Selma-to-Montgomery Marchers

International President Tom Buffenbarger, fourth from left, and Diane Babineaux, Chief of Staff to the International President, third from left, led a large delegation of IAM members in Montgomery, AL, to mark the 47th anniversary of the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. The 1965 march was an important turning point in the fight for voting rights for African-Americans.

The 47th anniversary of the momentous 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, AL, was marked with a five-day re-enactment of the 52-mile journey to call attention to modern-day efforts to roll back voting rights and other gains made during the civil rights era.

To kick off the event, IAM members from around the country joined thousands of other union members and human rights, faith and community activists who walked across the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge.

In March 1965, a group of civil rights marchers set off on the same bridge to fight for voting rights for African-Americans. They were brutally attacked by state and local law enforcement officials on a day that became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

When they finally reached Montgomery, the state capitol, the movement had grown from 3,200 marchers to 25,000 people and brought national attention to the struggle for voting rights. Within a year, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which sought to erase the barriers to voting across the south.

This year’s march drew national attention in response to a modern-day effort in many GOP-controlled states to roll back immigration, workers’ rights and voting rights. The event concluded with a march and rallies in Montgomery. “We are all under assault today. In states all across this nation, they want to take away the rights of workers. We can’t let that happen,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger who was part of a rally in Montgomery. “We can make change. And we can make things happen in this country if we stick together, march forward and don’t look back. We will create the better day of our dreams.”

Click here to view “Keep On Walking,” an IAM video recalling the memorable march.

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