County residents re-live history at Selma march

Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

For 21 members of Greater Saint Matthew A.M.E. Church of Brantley, March 8, 2009, was not just any other Sunday. It was the 44th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the Selma to Montgomery voting rights’ march in 1965 that was a memorable day in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

This is the second year members from the church have attended the annual march, according to church member Dennis Bogen.

“We drove over early that Sunday morning and tried to attend services in Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma, but there were too many people there, so we couldn’t even get in,” Bogen said.

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was the guest speaker that morning.

The church group was, however, able to attend church services inside Selma First Baptist Church, and afterwards attended a rally on the front steps of Brown Chapel where they heard several speakers, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and former Gov. Don Siegelman.

“We also met the man who carried the bomb out of Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in 1965 that was planted by the KKK,” Bogen said. “Everyone gathered around him and he told the story of how he carried the bomb…a child asked him if was scared when he did that and he said, ‘I didn’t have time to be scared.’”

After the demonstration, everyone was instructed on the line-up procedures for the march, with the Rev. Jackson and the Rev. Sharpton at the head of the march.

“Our kids were very excited about that part,” Bogen said. “It was a long, hot walk, but it didn’t feel like it because of the exciting atmosphere…when we got to the bridge, it became a very emotional experience for everyone…emotions were running high and those who would normally be afraid to cross a bridge did so without fear.”

“When we got to the edge of the bridge and stepped on to it, that was the most emotional moment for me,” Bogen said. “You think about the people who were there and who were attacked by the dogs and water hoses.”

“Congressman John Lewis of Ga. was there in 1965, and was among those who were beaten,” Bogen said. “When he reached the other side of the bridge, he started crying.”

Bogen said Greater St. Matthew Church of Brantley would make this an annual event.

“Next year, we plan to go earlier and spend the night,” he said.