We gathered for worship at Brown Chapel in Selma, and after a rousing service, we left the church to walk to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. As a leader of the trip, I had the privilege to walk at the front of the march with John Lewis and other congressmen and dignitaries and I had the great honor of walking the entire way alongside Dr. F.D. Reese, pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Selma.
As we began the march, I asked Dr. Reese if he could tell me about that day 45 years ago, and he did. As we strolled the historic route, surrounded by thousands, I was enthralled by this pastor's description of that fateful day. He said that when they reached the crest of the bridge and could see the other side of the river, the first thing they saw was the state police waiting to stop the march. He said, "All you saw was a sea of blue," but still they marched.
I asked if they thought of turning back when they saw the array of police. He smiled and said, "No, we had prayed at the Brown Chapel and decided we would go on regardless." And so they did.
After pausing at the base of the bridge for prayer, he told me how the tear gas and the beatings with night sticks overtook the crowd. My friend John Lewis was among those most severely beaten.
As our march came to an end, I extended my hand to Dr. Reese and thanked him not only for what he had done for the civil rights movement, but I thanked him for what he, John Lewis and others had done for America that day. Dr. Reese replied humbly, "God did something here." And through these brave Americans, I believe that with all my heart.
Every American should know the story of Montgomery and Selma. Thanks to courageous Americans like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congressman John Lewis, Dorothy Cotton and F.D. Reese, these cities have become an integral part of the American story in our nation's unrelenting march toward a more perfect union.
TEXT and IMAGE CREDIT: mikepence.house.gov Washington D.C. Office 100 Cannon HOB Washington, DC 20515 (p) 202 225-3021 (f) 202 225-3382