Children of 1963 march again with a new generation - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Children of 1963 march again with a new generation

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BIRMINGHAM - AL -

A Civil Rights foot soldier lead the way taking children through Birmingham's streets and through an older generation's fight for justice. Thursday, the original marchers joined in a re-enactment of the 1963 Children's March.

"Hold my hand. I see justice in the air," yelled SCLC President Bishop Calvin Woods into a bullhorn as hundreds of teens followed.

"They [the teens] don't have to worry about the water hoses. They don't have to worry about the dogs. They don't have to worry about being beat with billy clubs. They don't have to worry about being called the n word," said Marion Orange Easley who participated in the 1963 Children's March.

The teens from nine Birmingham area schools had few worries on their minds. They marched through downtown Birmingham from the 16th Street Baptist Church to Railroad Park. They made it much farther and more safely then children did fifty years ago.

"We exited the door, went across the street and I think I went half a block and got arrested," said Christine Ellis Barber who skipped school to march as a 16 year old.

From May 2 - May 5, 1963, hundreds of children encountered hoses, vicious dogs, and brutal police. Some were sent to the hospital but most went to jail.

"My day is May 7 at 2:45 in the afternoon. I'll never forgot it," said Charles Avery of his arrest.

"May 2, 12:30," said another.

Their arrest times and dates forever in the forefront of their minds.

"When I was teaching, I used to do the re-enactment with my students. This is good to see. We didn't have any fear. We wanted freedom," said Easley.

Images from that march brought a nation to its feet and change.

But the original marchers fear that freedom is now taken for granted by younger people even in the smallest ways

"I'm always talking to them about destroying books. I told them reverend king would turn over in his grave to see them destroy books. We didn't get free books," said Barber who is now a teacher.

But the re-enactment was a chance for them walk in someone else's shoes.

"That re-enactment allowed those kids to be part of something greater than they will ever know," said Avery.

The original marchers hope the teens gained a better understanding, so their stories become more than just a few paragraphs in a history book.

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