Across that bridge

Published 9:26 pm Friday, July 31, 2020

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By QuaWanna Bannarbie

Since Friday, July 17, 2020, our news and social media feeds have been sporadically reminding us of the lives of two great men who lived their lives fighting for civil rights and justice. Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian died that day.

They are known as two of the “Saints of Selma” who were among the civil rights demonstrators that faced the notorious “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Ala., when state troopers, armed with clubs and tear gas, attacked them on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The experience on that bridge on March 7, 1965, created a fraternity of which their membership lasted their lifetime. That fraternity affirms a covenant relationship of men and women who have shed their own blood for the cause of peace. Lewis and Vivian risked their lives at that bridge.

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These flashbacks to their civil rights work, the mugshots after their arrests and video coverage of “Bloody Sunday” news footage cause chilling reflections on the similarities between injustices today and 1965. The nation responded with solidarity at the outrage of what happened on “Bloody Sunday.” Different groups of people joined with the cause of the voting rights.

People have marveled at the fact that Lewis and Vivian died on the same day. Coincidence? I think not. God always knows what He is doing. He is intentional. At a time when calls for justice continue and unrest is at an all-time high in our nation, I truly believe we could benefit from more news coverage of the life journeys of both Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian.

I know nothing of how close a relationship the two men had in their lives, but I imagine that being members of that fraternity that began on “Bloody Sunday” knit them together spiritually. So much so, they left this earth together. Is there anyone in your life whom you have done important work alongside that you would love to walk with across the bridge to heavenly Jordan?

Bridges are often used in metaphors in relating a crossing over from life into eternity. Bridges may also represent where we are now to where we need to go.

These two men attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965, and were attacked for their attempt. These same two men crossed a bridge on July 17, 2020, and were no doubt received into the arms of their Savior. Their lives are reminders for us that bridge crossing is important work, and it is difficult work. We must do the work. Their deaths on the same day illustrate that some of those bridges we cannot go to alone. Some of those bridges require us to link arms and cross over together.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Connect with her via