ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Residents in Roanoke came together with marches, songs, and prayers, to honor leaders of the civil rights movement on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday, March 7 marked the 56th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, including “Bloody Sunday,” a day where more than 100 protestors were tear-gassed and beaten by police.
At 4 p.m., groups of people gathered along First Street NW in downtown Roanoke with signs in tow. Then, they marched their way over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Bridge, in memory of those before them.
“To celebrate all of the people. All of the lives that were lost, and those who stayed and were alive for us to know. To hear the history and to see the history,” said Yzavia Haney, Secretary of the Roanoke Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
The Selma Bridge crossing is often acknowledged by activists as a day that revolutionized the civil rights movement.
“The icons and giants that have marched to the civil rights movement kept on marching, no matter how bad they were treated,” said Rev. Amy Hodge Ziglar with Mt. Zion AME Church.
The march soon turned into a memorial service at the MLK statue, located just pass the bridge, with prayers and songs.
Some community leaders also joined in to honor those whose legacies still live on, and their impacts. From racial inequity, to justice reform, to voting rights.
“I was so proud of what we were able to do in this last election, in terms of even in the great state of Georgia,” Mayor Sherman Lea said. “They said it couldn’t be done, but we elected senators in that state. That tells you what you can do.”
Organizers say the fight for justice will continue to live on.
“We can march in many different ways, but the underlying thing of every way, is to march on,” said Rev. Hodge Ziglar.
The Roanoke Chapter of the SCLC will host a similar event on April 4, to recognize the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.