Civil rights activist discusses anniversary of Selma march, state of civil rights

FILE - In this March 7, 1965 file photo, clouds of tear gas fill the air as state troopers, ordered by Gov. George Wallace, break up a demonstration march in Selma, Ala., on what became known as "Bloody Sunday." The incident is widely credited for galvanizing the nation's leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – In this March 7, 1965 file photo, clouds of tear gas fill the air as state troopers, ordered by Gov. George Wallace, break up a demonstration march in Selma, Ala., on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The incident is widely credited for galvanizing the nation’s leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File) (AP/Uncredited)
FILE - In this March 21, 1965 file photo, civil rights marchers cross the Alabama river on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. to the State Capitol of Montgomery. The Edmund Pettus Bridge gained instant immortality as a civil rights landmark when white police beat demonstrators marching for black voting rights 50 years ago this week in Selma, Alabama. What’s less known is that the bridge is named for a reputed leader of the early Ku Klux Klan. Now, a student group wants to rename the bridge that will be the backdrop when President Barack Obama visits Selma on March 7, 2015.  (AP Photo/File)
FILE – In this March 21, 1965 file photo, civil rights marchers cross the Alabama river on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. to the State Capitol of Montgomery. The Edmund Pettus Bridge gained instant immortality as a civil rights landmark when white police beat demonstrators marching for black voting rights 50 years ago this week in Selma, Alabama. What’s less known is that the bridge is named for a reputed leader of the early Ku Klux Klan. Now, a student group wants to rename the bridge that will be the backdrop when President Barack Obama visits Selma on March 7, 2015. (AP Photo/File) (AP)
FILE - In this March 7, 1965 file photo, state troopers use clubs against participants of a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala. At foreground right, John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is beaten by a state trooper. The day, which became known as "Bloody Sunday," is widely credited for galvanizing the nation's leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – In this March 7, 1965 file photo, state troopers use clubs against participants of a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala. At foreground right, John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is beaten by a state trooper. The day, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” is widely credited for galvanizing the nation’s leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File) (AP)
FILE - In this March 1965 file photo, Martin Luther King, center, leads a march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. In early 1965, King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference began a series of marches as part of a push for black voting rights. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – In this March 1965 file photo, Martin Luther King, center, leads a march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. In early 1965, King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference began a series of marches as part of a push for black voting rights. (AP Photo/File) (AP)
FILE - In this March 13, 1965 file photo, a line of police officers hold back demonstrators who attempted to march to the courthouse in Selma, Ala. Police kept the demonstrators hemmed up in a square block area where they attempted several times to break through. (AP Photo/File)
FILE – In this March 13, 1965 file photo, a line of police officers hold back demonstrators who attempted to march to the courthouse in Selma, Ala. Police kept the demonstrators hemmed up in a square block area where they attempted several times to break through. (AP Photo/File) (AP/Anonymous)
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FILE - In this March 7, 1965 file photo, clouds of tear gas fill the air as state troopers, ordered by Gov. George Wallace, break up a demonstration march in Selma, Ala., on what became known as "Bloody Sunday." The incident is widely credited for galvanizing the nation's leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this March 21, 1965 file photo, civil rights marchers cross the Alabama river on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. to the State Capitol of Montgomery. The Edmund Pettus Bridge gained instant immortality as a civil rights landmark when white police beat demonstrators marching for black voting rights 50 years ago this week in Selma, Alabama. What’s less known is that the bridge is named for a reputed leader of the early Ku Klux Klan. Now, a student group wants to rename the bridge that will be the backdrop when President Barack Obama visits Selma on March 7, 2015.  (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this March 7, 1965 file photo, state troopers use clubs against participants of a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala. At foreground right, John Lewis, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is beaten by a state trooper. The day, which became known as "Bloody Sunday," is widely credited for galvanizing the nation's leaders and ultimately yielded passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this March 1965 file photo, Martin Luther King, center, leads a march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. In early 1965, King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference began a series of marches as part of a push for black voting rights. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this March 13, 1965 file photo, a line of police officers hold back demonstrators who attempted to march to the courthouse in Selma, Ala. Police kept the demonstrators hemmed up in a square block area where they attempted several times to break through. (AP Photo/File)

By Allison Keyes, WTOP.com

WASHINGTON — The nation paused this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”

On March 7, 1965, many in a crowd of 600 were severely beaten by Alabama state troopers as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to demand an end to discrimination against black voters.

President Barack Obama joined tens of thousands in a commemorative march across the bridge Saturday, calling the civil rights activists who were part of the original protest “warriors of justice” who pushed America to a more perfect union.

Civil rights activist Joan Mulholland wasn’t on that bridge, but she was one of the earliest leaders of the movement.

November 29, 2019 |

“Segregation was unfair,” Mulholland has said. “It was wrong, morally, religiously. As a Southerner – a white Southerner – I felt that we should do what we could to make the South better, and to rid ourselves of this evil.”

She began participating in sit-ins protesting the color barrier while a student at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. When the Dean of Women pressured her to stop her activism, she dropped out.

At the age of 19, in 1961, she was arrested as one of the Freedom Riders. She spent two months at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as the Parchman State Prison Farm, where female prisoners were humiliated and terrorized by forced vaginal examinations.

The interracial groups of people rode public buses into the Deep South, risking severe beatings as they fought to desegregate public transportation.

November 29, 2019 |

Mulholland later attended the historically black Tougaloo Southern Christian College in Mississippi, and became the first white student to be accepted into the sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Inc.

 

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