Youngest 1965 Selma Participant Describes the Day - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Youngest 1965 Selma Participant Describes the Day

Posted:
 NEW YORK (AP) - "Steady, loving confrontation."

Those were the first words Lynda Blackmon Lowery says she heard from the mouth of Martin Luther King, Jr. "And those three words changed my life," said Lowery, who at 15 was the youngest person to join King for the 1965 march from the Alabama cities of Selma to Montgomery, demanding voting rights for African-Americans.

On Sunday in New York, the now 64-year-old mother and grandmother showed the scar she still bears on the back of her head from a brutal beating at the hands of an Alabama state trooper during an earlier march when she was 14. It took 28 stitches to close the gash, and seven more for a cut above her right eye.

Lowery spoke at the New-York Historical Society on the eve of Monday's federal holiday marking King's birthday. The audience represented all races and ages, including children who sidled up to her for photos, peppering her with questions like, faced with the brutality, "Why didn't you fight back?"

She explained that they would have been killed if they did - unarmed, confronting "a sea of white men on foot and horseback," armed with rifles, bayonets, billy clubs and fierce dogs, plus tear gas.

"It was terrifying," she said.

A month earlier, activist Jimmie Lee Jackson was beaten and shot by a state trooper. His death inspired three marches from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery.

On Aug. 6, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

By the time she was 15, Lowery had been jailed nine times.

But there were moments of comic relief.

Flashing a warm smile, she recounted how when she and her young friends were released from the "sweatbox" - a windowless, sweltering hot cell - police asked them to sign their names for the record.

"We wrote, 'Mickey Mouse, Mini Mouse, Pluto'..." she said, grinning mischievously.

King is at the core of Lowery's memoir, titled "Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom." It was published in early January as Americans packed theaters to watch the film "Selma" about the early civil rights movement. The movie has been nominated for two Oscars, in the categories of best picture and best original song.

Lowery said she went to see it, but had to leave during the scene in which troopers and police attacked protesters at a march dubbed "Bloody Sunday" that preceded the famed, peaceful one to Montgomery on March 21, 1965. During the earlier march, authorities ordered several hundred marchers to stop at a bridge outside Selma. And when they quietly kept walking, the authorities viciously attacked.

"I just couldn't watch it," said Lowery.

After that day, she said she had to fight her fear to join the bigger march "because I was sure they would kill me."

An exhibit highlighting this transformational moment in American history is up through July at the New-York Historical Society.

Lowery, who lives in Selma, said that even today, "you have the ability to change something each day of your life."
  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Frankford Man Arrested After Trying to Break Into Home

    Frankford Man Arrested After Trying to Break Into Home

    Aug 17, 2018 10:08 PM -04:002018-08-18 02:08:00 GMT
    Friday, August 17 2018 10:08 PM EDT2018-08-18 02:08:12 GMT
    Delaware State Police said they arrested a Frankford man Friday after he reportedly tried to break into a home.More
    Delaware State Police said they arrested a Frankford man Friday after he reportedly tried to break into a home.More
  • Dover Comic Con Returns on Saturday

    Dover Comic Con Returns on Saturday

    Aug 17, 2018 6:45 PM -04:002018-08-17 22:45:00 GMT
    Friday, August 17 2018 6:45 PM EDT2018-08-17 22:45:47 GMT
    DOVER, Del. --- The Dover Comic Con is set to return Saturday, bringing thousands to Delaware's capital city for the celebration of comic books, TV shows and movies, and pop culture. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs till 5 p.m. and features more thMore
    DOVER, Del. --- The Dover Comic Con is set to return Saturday, bringing thousands to Delaware's capital city for the celebration of comic books, TV shows and movies, and pop culture. The event kicks off at 10 a.m. and runs till 5 p.m. and features more thMore
  • Former Delaware State Lawmaker Sentenced

    Former Delaware State Lawmaker Sentenced

    Aug 17, 2018 6:03 PM -04:002018-08-17 22:03:00 GMT
    Friday, August 17 2018 6:36 PM EDT2018-08-17 22:36:43 GMT
    John C. Atkins John C. Atkins
    John C. AtkinsJohn C. Atkins
    DOVER, Del.- A former Delaware lawmaker was sentenced after being arrested three times in one month for assaulting his girlfriend during an argument.More
    DOVER, Del.- A former Delaware lawmaker was sentenced after being arrested three times in one month for assaulting his girlfriend during an argument. More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices