So on March 21, 1965, the march left Selma going to Montgomery. On March 22, 1965, I turned 15 years old. I woke up that morning and the troop-- the Alabama National Guard had been federalized by the president at the time to protect the marchers. I woke up that morning and I realized that the same people was protecting me had been out there beating me and probably had the reason I was wearing that patch on the back of my head at the time.
I thought that I was gonna die. I didn't want anybody to have any freedom. I wanted to go home. I was scared. I have never felt that kind of fear since that I can remember in my life. I was really terrified. All I wanted to do was get back to the comforts of the projects and my daddy and my family. But I had some beautiful people to hold my hand, to teach me, and to lead me that day.
My 15th birthday is something that I will never forget as long as I live. And when I think about it, it still brings tears to my eyes and make my heart heavy. But it's not-- the heaviness in my heart is one of joy that I was a part of an understanding and a teaching from so many wonderful people, that I had a part of their spirit. Especially Mama Foster, Miss Mama Lilly Brown, Miss Boynton, Miss Lamar, Bob Mants, Hosea, even my pastor now, James Webb. I am still just so proud of that moment, and I am proud to say I walked all the way from Selma to Montgomery. And would I do it again? In a heartbeat.