Reflections on Selma

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This series was originally published in the print edition of The Rafu Shimpo on April 11, May 9, May 16 and July 14.

About 40 activists from across the country, calling themselves Asian Americans Marching for Equality and Justice, were led by two marchers who took part in the 1965 marches, Todd Endo (wearing cap) and Vincent Wu. (Photo by Mike Murase)

About 40 activists from across the country, calling themselves Asian Americans Marching for Equality and Justice, were led by two marchers who took part in the 1965 marches, Todd Endo (wearing cap) and Vincent Wu. (Photo by Mike Murase)

Over the weekend of March 7-8, 40-plus Asian Americans from across the country took part as an organized contingent in the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Todd Endo and Vincent Wu — two “foot soldiers” who participated in the original march — led the contingent.

Fifty years ago, Endo was a graduate student in the Boston area. Like so many others, he watched on TV the events of “Bloody Sunday” in which marchers were violently clubbed and tear-gassed by Alabama state troopers. Although it was shocking to his conscience to learn of the killings of a black man, church deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson, and a white Unitarian minister, Jim Reeb, the 24-year-old Endo decided to answer the call to support the people of Selma. Even today, he remembers hearing someone in the crowd say, “Oh wow, even the Japs are here.”

Wu, a graduate student from Illinois, was chosen to be a part of the perimeter security team for Dr. King during the 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery. The China-born Wu recalled that he was motivated by “my love of American ideals.” During the re-enactment of the bridge crossing, he walked shoulder-to-shoulder with Endo and said with a broad smile, “We never met back then, but now we meet. We are together.”

Here we present some brief reflections of a few Southern California Nikkei on the experience of traveling to Selma last month:

This Great Movement, by Gayle Hane Wong

Youth in the Movement and Southern Hospitality, by Carrie Morita

Meeting the ‘Voice of Selma,’ by Shirley Hibino

Hopes for My Generation, by Sachi Murase

Selma on My Mind, by Evelyn Yoshimura

The Lonely Road with May Stories, by June Hibino

Asian Americans Welcomed at Bridge Crossing, by Kathy Masaoka

Connected Experiences, by Kimi Maru

Return to Selma: Bloody Sunday, by David Monkawa

The Fierce Urgency of Now, by Mike Murase

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