Thousands of people crowded an Alabama bridge on Sunday, many jammed shoulder to shoulder and unable to move, to commemorate a bloody confrontation 50 years ago between police and peaceful protesters that helped bring about the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A day after President Obama walked atop the Edmund Pettus Bridge, police said tens of thousands of people had joined the crush on and around the small bridge, where marchers were tear-gassed and beaten in 1965. Many came from around the country for several events commemorating the landmark moment.
William Baldwin, 69, of Montgomery, brought his two grandsons, ages 11 and 15, to the bridge so they could grasp the importance of the historic march he took part in a half-century earlier. "They're going to take this struggle on and we have to understand the price that was paid for them to have what they have now," Baldwin says. "It wasn't granted to them, it was earned by blood, sweat, and tears." Some sang hymns and others held signs, such as "Black lives matter, all lives matter." An anniversary march from Selma to Montgomery is set to begin Monday morning and culminate with a rally at the Alabama Capitol Friday afternoon.