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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Local students, members of community to commemorate famous Civil Rights march

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KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 7, 2005 -- A group of fifth and second graders from Wakefield Elementary school, in collaboration with students from the University of Rhode Island, will march along Main Street to the Neighborhood Guild in Wakefield on Tuesday, March 15 to commemorate the famous Civil Rights march that took place in Selma, Alabama 40 years ago. A re-enactment of that 54-mile march is taking place in Alabama from March 7 to 11. The local march begins at 11 a.m., rain or shine.

The original march began on March 7, 1965. On that day, the marchers set out to march from Selma to Montgomery some 50 miles away to bring attention to the injustice of a segregated south.

They only made it six blocks. At the Edmund Pettis Bridge, the marchers were met by state and local lawmen wielding clubs and tear gas, which drove them back to Selma.

Three weeks later, under court order and federal protection, Martin Luther King Jr. led a second march that began with 2,500 people in Selma and ended up with a crowd of 25,000 in Montgomery. The march, a victory for the nonviolence that King espoused, helped shape the course of the nation’s history.

The URI students are members of the International Collegiate Organization for Nonviolence and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. They will march with the elementary school students to support the beliefs and courage of the marches of the past and the present. The students have created posters and banners with phrases such as “peace for all, ” “love conquered hate” and “the world is on the side of justice.”

Anyone interested in joining the marchers should meet at Wakefield Elementary School at 11 a.m. on March 15. The route proceeds over the Saugatucket River Bridge symbolizing the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and continuing onto Main Street.

At the intersection of Rt. 108 and Main Street, the group will take a left and continue to the Neighborhood Guild for a discussion on the green, weather permitting. The marchers will continue back to Wakefield Elementary School for a debriefing of the day’s event.

For more information on the local march, contact Erin Barry, march coordinator at 284-0575 or Isleoferin20@yahoo.com or Jonathan L. Lewis, ICON Coordinator (Level III Kingian Nonviolence Trainer) at 206-1526 or Globe808@aol.com.