Last weekend commemorated the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" and the Selma to Montgomery March. Arkansas Delegates representing southeast Arkansas traveled to Selma, Alabama to participate in the 55th Anniversary Bridge Crossing Jubilee from February 28-March 1.

(Editor's Note: This story is part of a series that will chronicle the 55th Anniversary Bridge Crossing Jubilee and the events leading up to the “Bloody Sunday” Commemorative March experienced by Arkansas Delegates of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission)

Last weekend commemorated the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" and the Selma to Montgomery March. Arkansas Delegates representing southeast Arkansas traveled to Selma, Alabama to participate in the 55th Anniversary Bridge Crossing Jubilee from February 28-March 1.

The Arkansas Martin Luther King Commission of Little Rock, a division of the Arkansas Department of Education, sponsored the trip to allow students to reflect back in time.

“We are sponsoring this event and are taking Arkansas delegates to experience this,” said Dushun Scarbrough, MLK Commission Executive Director. “We have youth from Southeast Arkansas, Lake Village, McGehee, Shorter College, Fox 16 News and the Pine Bluff Commercial.”

Over 40 activities were featured during the weekend, including the bridge crossing re-enactment, parade, mock trial, blues, hip-hop and gospel music festival, step show, pageant, unity breakfast, Freedom Flame Awards, youth summit, storytelling by living history makers, foot soldiers, workshops and more.

The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is known as the largest Annual Civil Rights Commemoration events in the world commemorating “Bloody Sunday”, the Selma-to-Montgomery March and the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for black voters.

“When I think about the voters right act, I think about what are forefathers weren’t able to do when it came to voting like when they would go to the places to vote they were turned away for no reason. They were told they had to count how many bubbles were on a bar of soap, they were told to count how many jelly beans were in a jar and if they weren’t accurate they couldn’t vote,” said Scarbrough. “They were told to announce all the legislators in the state of Alabama and if they got one wrong they were denied the right to vote.”

The Arkansas Delegates visited the National Memorial for the Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL, The Legacy Museum in Montgomery, AL, the Jubilee Music and Street Festival in downtown Selma, AL, Jimmy Lee Jackson Memorial in Marion, Alabama and First Baptist Church of Selma as well as joining thousands in the march across Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Those representing Arkansas on behalf of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission included: Dushun Scarbrough, Executive Director of the Arkansas Martin Luther King Jr. Commission; Yolanda Hunter, commissioner; 6th-grader Anaya Humphrey of Hot Springs; 19-year-old Anaya Gilcrease of Little Rock; Tiffany Pettus, MLK Commission Historian; Diana Shelton, MLK Commission Program Director; Linda Armour, Principal of Lakeside High School in Lake Village, Arkansas, 10th-grader Makerah Rone of Lake Village; 6th grader Dexter Tate of McGehee; 10th-grader Kaliyah Griffin of McGehee; 4th-grade teacher Courtnei Williams of Little Rock; 11th-grader Kamaurious Robinson of Lake Village; Johnathan Reaves of KASU Jonesboro; Emily Farris, commissioner; Shorter College student Brian Neal of Pine Bluff; Shorter College student JB Morgan of Atlanta; Kenya Eddings of Today’s Communique, ReChelle Turner of Fox 16 News; Tamela Holmes, commissioner; Jeff Medders of City Connections, Pleasant Valley Church of Christ of Little Rock and Gateway Church in Benton; and Rev. Charles Killon of McGehee.

Arkansas MLK Historian Tiffany Pettus says the Arkansas MLK Commission state agency, which is a division of the Arkansas Department of Education, travels the state teaching young people about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“It’s important for us to connect the agency with education and provide Arkansas and youth and connect with the King Legacy through events like the march in Selma and learn about the history and connecting the importance of voting with those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that they could have the right to vote,” said Pettus. “Dr. King’s involvement and so many other foot soldiers gave their lives and time to promote voting rights and equal rights for all people.”

Pettus adds participating in such an event that draws thousands worldwide will connect the young people with the experiences that they have read about. “They will make connections with the movers and shakers and the trailblazers and to see and feel those sacrifices,” she said.

Most importantly Pettus explains the experience should encourage them to vote when they become of age because people such as Dr. King paid for those experiences in blood.

“We are coming here from Arkansas and I wanted to instill in the youth that voting is important and voting is a voice and your voice should be heard,” said Scarbrough. “Generation after generation we are pushed further and further back but if we take this right to vote we can make a difference in the United States and in the state of Arkansas. To bring our youth here to see where it all started gives them the will to push forward.”

(In the next installment, Colvin follows the Arkansas Delegates as they travel down the Civil Rights trail and remember those who were lynched for the color of their skin.)