By Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
To the bridge they marched, making the decision
though they knew it was risky, in Selma they marched.
They wanted their rights, after years of derision,
struck with clubs and tear gas, they were bloodied and parched.
Though they knew it was risky, in Selma they marched
the judge ruled, in court, saying they could march on
struck with clubs and tear gas, they were bloodied and parched,
soon they walked on to Montgomery from evening to dawn.
The judge ruled, in court, saying they could march on,
they’d been delayed in Selma, but they were not broken,
soon they walked on to Montgomery from evening to dawn
their stories now heard, their stories now spoken.
There have been lakes of sorrows, and lakes of tears,
they wanted their rights, after years of derision,
but a stand must be taken, despite many fears,
to the bridge they marched, making the decision.
This is a Pantoum for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge.
In a pantoum, the second and fourth lines become the first and third lines of the next stanza, and the poem ends with the first line.
The prompt words were: Broke/Judge/Story/Bridge/Lake
The protesters in Selma were marching for civil rights, including the right to vote, as black voters were disenfranchised by various “tests,” poll taxes, and intimidation. State Troopers beat nonviolent protesters as they attempted to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. The day became known as Bloody Sunday. Edmund Pettus, for whom the bridge was named in 1940, was a Confederate general, a U.S. Senator—and a Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. The Selma to Montgomery march began on Sunday, March 21. The marchers reached Montgomery on Thursday, March 25. I took some poetic license with “evening to dawn.” President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 6, 1965.