By: Trinity Lentz
Lynda Blackmon Lowery, author of “Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom” and Bloody Sunday Survivor, came to PSC to talk to students and the Pensacola Community about her inspirational life story as well as her book.
Lowery was born in 1950 in Selma, Alabama. Between the ages of 7 and 15 she had already been jailed 9 times for protesting about racial inequalities in the South. She shared that when she was 7, her mother died due to blood loss during childbirth. Even though there was help close by, her mother had to travel 96 miles by a Trailway bus for care because of the color of her skin. Lowery said, “On that day I found out what hate really was.”
When she was 13, she got to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speak and convince people to vote in Selma during the next election. This was the speech that inspired her; she knew she was going to work to change something.
She began participating in a number of civil rights marches. She told the audience, “If it was during the school day, we would tell the teachers and they would conveniently turn their backs and unlock the doors.”
Because of her protests and participation in the marches, she found herself in jail.
She recalled marching with Dr. King who arranged for the Alabama National Guard to walk with the protesters to provide protection. At first, her father did not want her to go, but he eventually won his approval. On March 7, 1965, state and local police used clubs, whips, and tear gas to attack hundreds of civil rights activists beginning a march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capitol in Montgomery. She was the youngest marcher and was nearly beaten to death.
While describing this horrendous act, she told the audience she had assumed she must have blacked out because she doesn’t remember what happened after she ran toward the edge of the bridge. She remembers waking up on a stretcher being put in a hearse.
CBS News invited her to participate in a special; that was when she learned what happened on the bridge. She watched an Alabama State Trooper kick her so hard she came off the ground. She was beaten with a small baseball bat by a Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputy while another deputy kicked her.
As her talk came to a close, Lowery was reunited with a fellow Selma Foot Soldier who was excited to meet her and have her book signed.
For those who missed the event, there is a video of the entire lecture on YouTube.