Published May 29, 2016
SELMA, ALABAMA — The Longest Walk V – War on Drugs and Domestic Violence crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday afternoon.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge became a historical site on Sunday, March 7, 1965, also known as Bloody Sunday, when the police attacked with civil rights protesters with billy-clubs and tear gas.
Walking and praying the Walkers of Longest Walk 5 crossed the Bridge that a young John Lewis – now Congressman Lewis (Georgia-D) – tried to cross to bring the right to vote equally to all people.
The bridge’s name has become controversial in recent years because it was named after a former Confederate brigader general and grand dragon of Alabama Ku Klux Klan, Edmund Winton Pettus.
As the long walkers went across the bridge, prayers went up for the freedom of Leonard Peltier and to bring attention about the ill-effects of drugs on Native people throughout Indian Country.
“I feel great being here today. History plays a good reminder to us many years later to understand Selma was the Wounded Knee to the black community,” said Dennis Banks, who is leading the Longest Walk V.
“It was a very bloody path to get Lyndon Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act. The marchers back then did not realize until they got on the bridge that there was a huge swarm of state troopers that were waiting for them. And it turned bloody.”
Banks (Ojibwe) was a co-founder of the American Indian Movement. He has been involved with previous Longest Walks. On this one, he and the Longest Walk stop at Indian reservations in Indian Country they visit. At each reservation, Banks makes a stump speech about the ill effects of drug usage among American Indians. He also links drug usage with the high levels of violence against Native women. Banks lost a granddaughter, who had been involved in a domestic violent relationship, late last year
The Longest Walk began on Saturday, February 13, 2016, in La Jolla, California, near San Diego, its journey across the southern portion of the United States and will arrive in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2016.
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