The Echoes of Bloody Sunday

07 Mar, 24

Dear Friends, 

On March 7, 1965, a day that history would forever remember as Bloody Sunday, the Edmund Pettus Bridge transcended its role as a mere structure spanning the Alabama River. It became a battleground for the civil rights movement, a brick-and-mortar symbol of the struggle for equality and justice. Peaceful demonstrators, armed only with the conviction of their beliefs, set forth to march for their fundamental right to vote. They were met with brutal, unprovoked violence that underscored a harsh reality: the journey toward justice is fraught with adversity, demanding not just passive hope but active engagement.

This moment, deeply etched into the fabric of our nation, serves as a stark reminder of the continuous fight for freedom—a concept eloquently captured by John Lewis, who reminded us that “freedom is not a state; it is an act... a continuous struggle.” The events of Bloody Sunday reveal the true cost of our progress, the sacrifices made by those who dared to envision a more equitable America.

As we commemorate the anniversary of that fateful day, we find ourselves at a critical juncture, facing efforts across the country that seek not only to erase this pivotal moment from our history but to erase the hard-fought rights and freedoms that people have bled and died for over generations. From book bans to attacks on diversity, equity, and inclusion programs to whitewashing history, there are forces that seek to deny the systemic oppression and injustices that have been woven into the fabric of our nation—from the chains of slavery to the ongoing battles against racial injustice and police brutality.

The relentless efforts to erase pivotal moments of progress and undermine the rights hard-won by blood and persistence mirror the broader, systemic efforts to perpetuate economic injustices. In Harris County, the connection between historical injustices and present-day economic challenges is palpable. Despite our area's vast prosperity, a significant portion of our community faces daunting barriers to economic security, with systemic obstacles disproportionately affecting people of color. One in five Black and Latino residents is living below the poverty line in our region. The pandemic, alongside rising living costs and stagnant wages, has only exacerbated these disparities, underscoring the critical need for comprehensive action.

But there is reason for hope. In Harris County, we are committed to confronting these injustices head-on, inspired by the same spirit that fueled the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Our initiatives, such as Harris PROSPERS, are designed to break down the barriers of inequality and build a future where justice and equity are realities for all residents. This commitment to economic justice is a direct continuation of the civil rights struggle, embodying our belief that true freedom includes the right to economic security and opportunity.

Inspired by the courage of John Lewis and all those who marched on that historic day in Selma, Alabama, let us continue our relentless march toward freedom and justice for every member of our community.


Rodney Ellis