BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Foot Soldiers passed the torch to a new generation of community activists.
We were there as children participated in a powerful recreation of the 1963 Children's Crusade in Downtown Birmingham, proving that the strength of one's voice remains just as powerful.
Young activists marched along the same route the Foot Soldiers did 55 years ago.
Pictures of that day show the 5,000 children who marched in downtown Birmingham protesting racial inequality.
"It makes me emotional and it means a lot because the idea of children being involved in civic engagement started at this church 55 years ago," said LaVeeda Morgan Battle, St. Paul United Methodist Church History Committee Chair. "And to see the need for civic engagement of young people today be such a powerful tool for changing those things that need to be changed, and the injustices that need to be righted, is very powerful."
Saturday's event, which was organized by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, began at St. Paul United Methodist Church.
That is the same church out of which the protesters walked in 1963, only to be blasted by fire hoses and attacked by police officers and their dogs.
"I was in the 8th grade when all of this started, the march started," said St. Paul United Methodist Church member Linda Jones Dugger. "I was sitting right here in Sunday school when they bombed 16th Street Church. This brings back a lot of memories, emotional. It's touching. It makes you think back."
Battle said the event is not only about celebrating the right to speak out against injustice, but also to pass the baton off to these young people who recognize the power of their voices.
"It makes me happy to see that young people are interested," said Battle. "That they're not just one their cellphones talking to each other, but they're talking about what they can do to change our society."
And as activists of this generation walked side by side with Foot Soldiers from 1963, participants recognized the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done.
"Don't stand on the sidelines. Get involved," said Battle.