WASHINGTON — Rep. Shelley Berkley and about 30 other members of Congress have signed up for a pilgrimage this coming weekend to re-enact the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Ala., one of the defining events of the civil rights era.
John Lewis of Georgia led the original March 7, 1965, crossing of the bridge, as 525 to 600 civil rights marchers set off on a 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., the state capital.
Once across the bridge, however, the marchers were set upon by local and state police armed with tear gas, bull whips and billy clubs.
The events of the day, which became known as "Bloody Sunday," shocked the nation. It was a turning point for the civil rights movement although one that carried a price in pain and violence.
Only later in the month, after a federal judge's order that local authorities not interfere, were the marchers able to carry out their five-day trek.
Now a member of Congress, Lewis accompanies lawmakers to the site as part of an annual program run by the nonprofit Faith and Politics Institute. Along with the Selma bridge march, the pilgrims will tour civil rights landmarks in Montgomery and Birmingham.