Dozens gathered in Town Square Park Sunday for a rally commemorating the “Bloody Sunday” march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Organizers said the rally was held to honor those who sacrificed and suffered to get equal voting rights for every American and salute the thousands of people retracing their steps in Alabama over the weekend.


Fifty-two years later, historian Averil Lermon, one of several speakers, remembers efforts to stop the march:


“The government’s men tore into the ordinary people who were walking over the bridge. Clubs and whips flew. Tear gas canisters were fired. The marchers broke into retreat and were then trampled on purpose by horses and chased by attackers with clubs. The large white crowd watching beside the bridge whooped and cheered. All of this was on television that night, and that’s what I saw when I was 12 years old.”


The moment in civil rights history now serves as an inspiration to several groups who believe their human rights are threatened. That includes women, said another speaker Ida Mboge Jobe, from Gambia.


“Let’s not see each other as competition,” she said, closing her speech with a reminder to women. “Let’s help each other, take care of each other.”


Attendee Maleika Jones called the rally “empowering.”


“I was really excited when I heard all the different speakers,” she said. “And I came out just to be united with all the other people and to support the community.”


The rally happened in solidarity with several similar events through the Sisters in Synergy national organization, Salute Selma, Inc. and The Bridge Crossing Jubilee, Inc., which also hosted a re-enactment march across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama over the weekend.


KTVA 11’s Daniella Rivera can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter