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Brown Bag Lecture honors Alabama civil rights march


Wednesday marked the 47th anniversary of the day John Lewis was beaten by law enforcement in Selma, Ala., for protesting for his right to vote.

Associate professor Barbara Harris Combs spoke yesterday at the Barnard Observatory at the University of Mississippi for the weekly Southern Studies Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture about “Bloody Sunday” and the 54-mile march that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Combs attended a commemoration held in Selma this past weekend to honor the protesters and shared her experience with the audience.

“It made me very proud of those Americans, black and white, who came out to march and protest against the treatment of blacks,” she said. “But it made me particularly proud as an African-American woman to be part of that history and legacy. Truly, these people sacrificed so that you and I could have this quality of life today.”

Combs said she is in the process of writing a book to be titled “Selma to Montgomery: The Long March to Freedom,” which will focus less on political figures or nationally known characters and more on the average people who were forced to stay and endure the aftermath of the protests.

“The more I looked at this, the more I realized that the voting rights march, the Selma campaign, was actually a critical moment in American history,” Combs said. “It’s one of what we call watershed moments. It’s the divide between one period and the next.”

The Southern Studies Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series takes place each Wednesday at noon in the lecture hall of Barnard Observatory.