I woke up this morning excited like a little kid headed to Disney for the first time. I dreamed that my flight was delayed and I wouldn’t make it in time for the bridge crossing. I laugh because I only live about 90 minutes from Selma, so a flight for me isn’t necessary. There’s so much I’m looking forward to about the commemoration of Bloody Sunday and crossing the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.
I want to go stand on that bridge, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and celebrate the courage and sacrifice of hundreds of people who proudly faced their Jim Crow oppressors and were terribly victimized. When I view photo’s from that day, chills go through my body and tears form in the wells of my eyes knowing that on that Sunday 50 years ago in Selma, AL the world saw just how ugly and damn right ridiculous the racist and oppressive institution of Jim Crow was. The world changed that day when images of those who were to protect and serve were punishing and senselessly abusing their power, were shared with the world.
It wasn’t until last year that I learned who Edmund Pettus was. I wasn’t surprised that he was a celebrated confederate leader, after all I’m a southerner and I realize that many places and things throughout the south are named for confederate hero’s. I believe my immediate reaction was similar to the laughing cry face emoji… I was literally laughing and in tears. WHY? It’s simple, the steps we (our elders) took in March 1965 over the Edmund Pettus Bridge were literally and figuratively steps to say, “We aren’t afraid of you and we gonna stand up and show the world just what kind of coward you are and how evil your agenda is and has always been.”
There’s a push to change the name of the bridge. I think it’s endearing that “Students Unite” have organized to change the name, but I believe they’re foolishly mistaken if they don’t see the power in keeping its name. It’s about more than the notion of Edmund Pettus rolling over in his grave, though I imagine if he could he would. Crossing the bridge in March 1965 with the world watching, literally displayed the ugly racist institution which is very much woven into the history of America. To change the name would erase the so much sacrifice made that day not to mention the “bonus points” of standing on your enemy like our elder’s did in March 1965.
Crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge is symbolic to so much victory to me. I imagine if I’m lucky enough to get a picture in front of the sign, I’ll quote Puffy and say, “Take that, take that!” Take this smart, fearless, Black woman standing on top of your bridge celebrating Blackness and her American freedom’s when your life’s work was for her to never have such an opportunity and definitely not such an audacity. Yea, Edmund Pettus, I’m LAUGHING OUT LOUD with my head up, chest out and fist in the air and proud and I know you hate it.