“It’s the screams I remember the most – people just screaming and screaming and screaming.” “The last thing I remember seeing on the bridge that day is this lady and this horse. I don’t know if the horse ran over her, or if the officer on the horse hit her with the billy club, but I remember the sound of her head hitting that pavement – I’ll never forget it. It was too much for me. I fainted.” -Joanne Bland
Joanne Bland is recognized as one of the greatest human rights activists and was one of the youngest persons jailed during the 1960s civil rights movement. She is the co-founder and former director of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, Alabama.
Bland was born in Selma, Alabama and by the time she was 11 years old she had already been arrested 13 times. One of her imprisonments was for eight days on a prison farm. She began her civil rights activism in the early 1960s. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activists organized Bland and other area children and teenagers to participate in the civil rights movement.
Young Bland marched on the front lines of the struggle on “Bloody Sunday” and “Turn Around Tuesday,” and the first leg of the successful March from Selma to Montgomery, witnessing brutal beatings of fellow marchers by police.
Bland is owner and operator of Journeys For The Soul, a touring agency that specializes in Civil Rights tours with a major focus on Selma, Alabama. She remains active in several local and regional organizations, including SCLC, NAACP, the Sunflower Project, Ladies With A Mission, and her church, Ward Chapel in Prattville, Alabama.