BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Birmingham and Selma share a unique bond. Each city has lasting images from the struggle for civil rights that are etched into the minds of people all over the world. The images are difficult ones that moved people from all walks of life to demand equality for all.
The images are those of pain that produced progress powerful enough to demand the presence of a new generation 50 years later.
The 2015 March on Selma will be a walk down memory lane for 81-year-old Bishop Calvin Woods, who was a foot soldier in the civil rights movement.
Woods recently co-authored a book about his life and continuing role in the struggle for civil rights. The book’s title, “Walk With Me,” is a collaborative title given by his family.
“My sons and children said, ‘Daddy, you been walking for a long time,’” Woods said.
A dedicated foot soldier in the civil rights movement, Woods has many assignments. One assignment included a walk against police brutality in Birmingham, where Woods marched alongside Rosa Parks.
Those moments in history happened years before the brutality he and nearly 600 others faced on March 7, 1965, in Selma. Woods showed up for what was supposed to voting rights march, but it turned into something now known as Bloody Sunday.
“I was there when the attempt was made to go across the bridge,” Woods recalled. “They had the horses and everything. I was quite young then, and I would have probably run over, but I was swift. I was running. If that’s what they call Bloody Sunday, I was there.”
Woods says at the time he was trying to get away from the horses and police.
“We had no idea it had been building up to that,” Woods said. “They knew we were coming. It was a plan. It wasn’t just a spasmodic thing. It was well-planned.”
Woods now does the planning as the president of the Birmingham Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He says his group is planning to take a busload of people to Selma for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee.
“Young and old will be on the bus. I’m very proud of that. It just affords joy in my heart to be able to see people being able to enjoy these rights that so many people suffered for them to have,” Woods said.
Despite the lasting images that have become associated with Bloody Sunday and the struggle for civil rights, Woods says he is thankful for the past.
“We’ve got to continue to move forward in the present and even looking to a better future,” said Woods.
That dawning of a new day is why he says he’ll continue walking and asking others, especially younger people, to walk with him.