SELMA, Al. - Tens of thousands of people are arriving at Selma, Alabama, to mark the 50th anniversary of the march for voting rights. Close to 100,000 people are expected to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7.
Four packed buses filled with dozens of Atlanta Public Schools students left for Selma. Before getting to Selma, buses will stop in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Marion, Alabama.
The students will get to live what they've been learning about during the re-enactment of the historic march for black voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphon grew up in Selma and is excited to have some of her students attend the march re-enactment.
"I hope if it's not too chaotic to try to take 'em around the town," said Carstarphon. "Show them where I was able to grow up, and kinda what my perspective was at the time."
Walter Shields is principal of Oakland Elementary School in McDonough. He brought a group called Men of Distinction, a group of fourth and fifth grade boys so they could cross this piece of history.
"We've been teaching them in school, all this in the social studies classes, and so to actually come and where it all happen we thought we couldn't miss this opportunity," Shields said.
50 years ago many African-Americans including a young John Lewis crossed the bridge. The group was beaten for trying to vote.
Jim Benston tells Channel 2's Dave Huddleston he was at the Edmund Pettus Bridge 50 years ago.
"We knew we were going to be beaten, we didn't know it was going to be that bad," said Benston. "When they said 'trooper advance,' they came at us with the clubs."
Benston says he knew what happened to him and others like Congressman John Lewis would change the country.
"There are times in history when there's a turning point, and you create a new world," said Benston. "That's what we did right here on the bridge."
Vickye Armstrong of LaGrange traveled to Selma, and crossed the bridge. She says she did it to answer one question.
"If I was in the 1960s, would I have the courage to take those steps or would I turn around," Armstrong said. She didn't have an answer.
For some students, the ghosts of Bloody Sunday linger on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Xavier Prince said, "You can feel it, the sadness on it."