Salisbury man participates in re-enactment of famous march in Selma

Williams Selma

Lester Franklin Jr. was so inspired after participating in the re-enactment march on Selma, Ala., that he made a commitment to future generations.

The 23-year-old Salisbury resident, whose goal is to teach English, was reminded of his duty to future generations.

“I will be involved in the education program. I have got to be in education for the kids that come behind me. We have to be the change we want to see,” he said.

A UMES alumni who plans to continue studies in the fall, Franklin, the son of Monica and Lester Franklin Sr., participated in the 50th anniversary of the historic march, March 20 to 25.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was at the original event in 1965, to draw attention to racial injustice and voting rights inequality.

The re-enactment march was sponsored by the National Park Service, which has historic trails. Franklin works for Coastal Stewards. His supervisor, Carrie Samis, suggested he apply. He did, quickly writing an essay and being chosen as one of 150 who participated.

In the essay, he discussed President Lyndon Johnson’s speech about the Voting Rights Act and compared  the Civil War and American Revolution to Selma and the battle for civil rights.

Once in Alabama, marchers set up camp in Selma the first night, then marched the 54 miles to Montgomery during the next several days.

Park Service representatives provided meals and drinking water and drove those who tired from walking.

As they marched, they chanted and sang “We Shall Overcome” and “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

“It was a wonderful experience. One we got there, another 150 from the public joined us and in Montgomery a lot of people joined us. The mayor spoke and there were performances. There was a vigil for the people who died. The governor was there. Dr. King’s youngest daughter was there.

“They gave us information on how the march started. It was started by college kids who were leaders. They wanted equality. Originally, they were all African-Americans.

“In Alabama when I was there, there was a beautiful mix —  white, black, Cantonese, Japanese kids, Indians, those from Pakistan. They represented at least 29 states,” Franklin said.

“It taught me that I can’t wait to get back to school so I can tell  my classmates about it. It taught me it doesn’t matter who is with you as long as you’re willing to stand,” he said.

“It teaches us not to be afraid to stand up for what we believe in.”

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