By BOB JOHNSON
Associated Press Writer
SELMA, Ala. (AP) — More than a thousand people gathered Sunday to commemorate the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march – and remarked how the original protest paved the way for modern-day candidates to break political barriers.
With a marching band leading the way, participants retraced the steps to the bridge where marchers were beaten back by state troopers as they marched from Selma to Montgomery in support of opening polls to blacks across the South.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., one of the leaders of the first march, described how the group marched past jeering whites on March 6, 1965, then were beaten with night sticks, trampled by horses and sprayed with tear gas.
“When we left the church to walk through the heart of downtown Selma, it was a silent walk. There were 600 of us armed with a dream,” Lewis said. “The dream was that people of color would have the right to vote – the right to participate in the democratic process.”