SELMA, Ala., March 10, 1965 (UPI) - Dowagers, white men of the cloth and Negro maids and laborers walked side by side over the arching bridge that spans the muddy Alabama River.
When they stopped, they were surrounded by much of the armed might of the state of Alabama. They did not flinch.
On and on they came, under the sullen eyes of Selma whites who lined the streets of their town and stood in windows and doorways, until the column covered the bridge from one end to the other.
They sang," We Shall Overcome," putting one foot after another in a slow but steady march that brought them closer and closer yesterday to a phalanx of heavily armed state troopers.
These were the same troopers who attacked Negroes with tear gas and billy clubs when marchers refused to turn around in a similar march two days earlier.
Maj. John Cloud, a state trooper, had the major state role in the drama. "You people in this group are ordered to stop," he shouted into a loudspeaker, just as he had Sunday, minutes before the troopers, followed by Clark's posse, moved against the Negroes with clubs, whips and tear gas.
It was a tense moment. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who walked near the head of the column with some of the nation's leading religious and civil-right leaders, brought the column to a halt.
"We would like to pray and ask God's guidance in this difficult period of transition," Dr. King told the major.
"You can have your prayer and return to your church if you so desire," Cloud told Dr. King.
"We Shall Overcome" was sung and then the marchers knelt and prayed.
Minutes later Dr. King was striding back across the bridge to Selma followed by hundreds of marchers who had vowed to walk to Montgomery.
And a couple of hours later, hundreds of whites who had come here to aid Selma's Negroes were bound for the airport.
"We will march on Montgomery by the thousands next week," Dr. King said afterward. He said the exact date had not been picked.