Project to identify voting rights marchers from 'Bloody Sunday’

The names of John Lewis, and other voting rights protesters who marched across Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 are well-known. However, they were attacked by Alabama troopers on what became "Bloody Sunday." This new project seeks to identify more of those involved.

Project to identify voting rights marchers from 'Bloody Sunday’

Richard Burt, an Auburn University professor, and Keith Hebert, a group of honors students, created a Facebook Page for people to look at photographs from March 7, 1965 and identify themselves and others in the black and white images.

The page has been online since August and features several images of marchers, which are marked with red numerals. Users can also add their names to the comments section.

The creators have already identified some people, and they hope that more will do so as word spreads around the page, especially in Selma where the effort is being promoted. Students at Selma High School are helping to identify marchers by asking their relatives.

Hebert stated that the project "highlights need for additional historical research, documentation for one of America's most famous moments," in a statement released to the university.

"By looking at Bloody Sunday from a new perspective, our research revealed many rich details about the march that previous historians had missed. He stated that they are here to assist those in Selma who wish to do more to preserve and understand the historical landscapes associated with this pivotal event.

Lewis, Hosea Williams and Marie Foster were among the hundreds of marchers at the front when the column crossed over the Alabama River to reach Montgomery. They were brutally beat by Dallas County sheriff's officers and troopers. Images of the violence helped to build support for voting rights in the segregated South.

Lewis, who was born in Alabama, died last year. He went on to serve multiple terms as a representative for the Atlanta region. The project may help to correct this oversight as many marchers have not been identified publicly.

The social media platform allows marchers to send messages and share their stories. Hebert stated that students are learning to communicate with different groups while they gather information about the most well-known civil rights events.

He said, "These learning opportunities will bode well to their future career endeavors and they help America build an inclusive, diverse, and equitable society."

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