Auburn U. Project searches for names of civil rights infantrymen


Through The Associated Press

The world knows the names of John Lewis and a few other voting protesters who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma in 1965 to be attacked by Alabama state soldiers on a day that was called “Bloody.” Sunday ”. A new project aims to further identify the hundreds of people involved in the protest.

Auburn University professors Richard Burt and Keith Hebert, working with a group of specialist university students, have created a Facebook account page where people can look through photographs from March 7, 1965, and identify themselves or others in the black and white images.

Online since August, the page is titled “Help Us Identify the Selma Bloody Sunday Foot Soldiers.” It features several images of walkers labeled with red numbers, and users can add the names of people they recognize in the comments section.

Some people have already been identified, and the creators are hoping more will be identified as the news spreads across the page, particularly in Selma, where the effort is being promoted. A class at Selma High School helps students enlist parents to help them identify walkers.

The project “underscores the need for additional historical research and documentation for one of the most famous moments in American history,” Hebert said in a statement issued by the university announcing the work.

“Taking a fresh look at Bloody Sunday, our research uncovered rich details about the course of the march that previous historians have overlooked. We intend to help those in Selma who want to do more to preserve and interpret the historic landscapes linked to this founding event, ”he said.

Lewis, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Marie Foster and other established activists were in front of a line of hundreds of protesters as the column crossed the bridge over the Alabama River to Montgomery. They were brutally beaten by soldiers and members of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Troop; images of violence have helped build support for the right to vote in the segregated South.

Lewis, a native of Alabama who died last year, served several terms in Congress to represent the Atlanta area. But many of the walkers have never been publicly identified, an omission the project could help address.

As walkers are identified, they receive messages through the social media platform offering the option to share their stories in the future. Hebert said students learn to communicate with various groups by collecting information about one of the best-known events in the civil rights movement.

“These learning opportunities will bode well for their future career plans as they help America build a diverse, inclusive and equitable society,” he said.


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