Representatives of three organizations walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on July 15 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice.
Accompanying NAFJ were representatives of the Alliance of Faith and Justice and the 400 Years of African American History Commission. University students from throughout the U.S. who are part of the “I fear for my life initiative” sponsored by 400 Years of African American History Alliance were also part of the four busloads of visitors who walked across the iconic bridge. The event was coordinated by Kim Davis.
NABCJ President Sherman Lea Jr. said walking across the bridge “signifies how decades ago our predecessors came before us, took that march across the bridge, and they were met with the criminal justice system that was ruling. We are commemorating that, going back and really highlighting and commemorating the resolve and what they wanted, and today represent, a more just criminal justice system that’s promoting equality.”
When the group returned from the march, students who were apart of the “I fear for my life initiative” received a medallion from the 400 Years of African American History Commission to commemorate the event. Students from eleven colleges and universities represented the initiative, designed to foster better relationships between law enforcement and young adults.
Addie Richburg, president of the National Alliance of Faith and Justiceand executive director of the 400 Years of African American Federal Commission, said she hoped the students “understand the journey’s not over.”
“We're still on a journey,” Richburg said. “Everything is not as we want it to be. We still have room to grow. We still need more unity. We certainly need unity between law enforcement and the community. We need … to be able to be grateful of where we’ve come and be able to appreciate it and make sure we never as a nation turn around and go back to where we were.”
Richburg added that her father was a minister involved in the civil rights movement, so she got to travel with Rosa Parks. “I had a chance to see from my childhood what it was like trying to transition from a way of life to one that was more unified, where everyone could have a more equal opportunity,” Richburg said. “Now that I'm 65 plus, I have had an opportunity to make that opportunity available for younger persons, for young people to try to see what sacrifices everybody else had to make for us to be here.”