(Ms. Bland is to the right of Barack Obama as you look at the above photo!)
Selma, AL, is sacred ground in the civil rights movement. It was there, in '65, during the historic voting right campaign, at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, that thousands of people made a stand for racial justice that reverberated across the country and around the world. Those activists and local people took their lumps, but their efforts resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Ms. Joanne Bland was there, as a little girl, and has spent the rest of her life in Selma, carrying on the struggle for full equality. I've had the great fortune to get to know Ms. Bland, first as a grad student at the U. of Wisconsin, and more recently when I brought her to Lincoln as a part of "From Selma to Washington: A 40th Anniversary Celebration of the 1965 Voting Rights Act," a conference I organized in 2005.
This New York Times video features Ms. Bland and other local people in Selma, as they vote and await the results of election '08 on Tuesday. In case you are unclear about the deep meaning of Barack Obama's historic victory, please watch this moving video... but be prepared to shed some tears.
I love you Ms. Bland! Thank you for everything you and all the other local people in Selma have done for our nation, for our democracy! This one is for you and for all the other foot-soldiers of the Movement. We are a better nation because of your sacrifices...