East Texans Remember 'Bloody Sunday'

Alabama may seem far away from East Texas, but some Lufkin residents remember vividly what happened on 'Bloody Sunday' 1965.

"It was a very horrific time," said Ruth Pruitt.  "I can remember seeing on television, blacks being gassed, being sprayed, and they were beaten with clubs."

Beaten and bruised, all because they wanted the right to vote.  Shortly after 'Bloody Sunday', ballot boxes opened to blacks across the south.  Pruitt says refusing the right to be heard is even worse than being denied that right.

"In order to be a part of anything, you have to make a way to have some input in it; otherwise, if nobody got involved, no voices would be heard," Pruitt said.

Pastor Leroy Thompson was in nearby Arkansas when deputies, state troopers, and police officers attacked hundreds of civil rights marchers for speaking out. He too says more young eligible voters should get involved.

"A lot of our young people have had it somewhat easy and they haven't had to struggle as some of us from the older times," said Thompson.  "I think that may contribute to the fact that we don't have as many turning out to vote."

Less than five months after 'Bloody Sunday', President Lyndon Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  That law helped put a stop to discrimination against black voters.

Within months of the historic voting rights march in Selma, a quarter of a million new black voters were registered.