Marking 50 years since historic march from Selma to Montgomery

Sunday marks the 50th Anniversary of the marches in Alabama between Selma and Montgomery. It was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement. Back in 1965, police beat dozens of protesters who were marching to demand voting rights. The marches helped lead to passage of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

Emotions are still raw for Lynda Blackmon Lowery as she gazes at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

This is where she and 600 other civil rights demonstrators were beaten and tear gassed by state and local police half a century ago.

"I was 14 years old. I wasn't a threat to anyone. Yet somebody beat me," Lowery said. "And in that beating, I received the seven stitches over my right eye and 28 stitches in the back of my head."

Out of fear, Lowery says she nearly dropped out of a subsequent march, but was encouraged to press on by a white military veteran who had lost a leg in combat.

"Jim Letherer said before he let anybody else harm another hair on my head, he would lay down and die for me," said Lowery. "And I said, 'I can't let him do more for me than I was willing to do for myself.'"

Lowery, who turned 15 on that historic march from Selma to Montgomery, would become the youngest person to complete the entire route.

She writes about her experiences in a book geared toward young readers.

"I think that children are our future history makers. And everybody has a potential to change things. I just want them to recognize that they can even start at an early age."

The marches that began on this bridge here in Selma led to sweeping reform protecting americans right to vote, regardless of race.

Linda Lowery says she wishes more Americans would exercise that right for which so many people risked their lives so many years ago.

Today, President Obama will lead a tribute in Selma to mark 50 years since the history-making civil rights marches.