North Carolina NAACP president reflects 56 years after Bloody Sunday

The black and white TV news footage filmed 56 years ago in Selma still shocks viewers today; Alabama state troopers, attacking unarmed demonstrators as they peacefully march to register Black voters.

The grim anniversary of what's remembered now as Bloody Sunday brings back vivid memories for the Reverend T. Anthony Spearman, president of the North Carolina NAACP.

"Watching what had occurred at the Edmond Pettus Bridge that day was particularly appalling and alarming for a 14-year-old like myself," said Spearman. "It would be a few years before I would be eligible to vote. However, having been reared in a household of two parents in Fayetteville, Southerners who had been immersed in the fight for quite some time, it was something that caught my attention."

Bloody Sunday memorial to honor late civil rights giants

So did the violence at the U.S. Capitol in Washington this year on Jan. 6, as rioters tried to derail certification of the vote totals from 50 states that elected President Joe Biden.

Reverend Spearman says that was another example of attempted voter suppression.

"Fifty-six years later, here we are in this same place," he said. "When we have amendments that say African Americans have the right to vote? Why are they fighting the vote of African Americans if indeed our vote doesn't matter?"

Now remembering the vicious beating of marchers including John Lewis, who represented Georgia in Congress tears after Bloody Sunday, Spearman said the NAACP's efforts to encourage and defend access to the polls will continue.

"Our attempts to make sure folk got out to vote were in his memory and in his honor," said Spearman.
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.