SoCal woman recalls marching alongside Martin Luther King, Jr.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- From Long Beach to Selma, Alabama, 81-year-old Evelyn Knight shares her story of marching alongside Martin Luther King, Jr.

Knight is a life-long activist who left her home and her job 50 years ago to join King in Selma, a battleground in the fight for voting rights.

She says she watched "Bloody Sunday" unfold on TV, and she knew she had to join the struggle for equality and justice for all.

"I saw all the brutality of the police attacking the people. Looking at that just made me very disturbed and very angry and very upset," Knight said.

Growing up in Alabama, Knight said she had experienced segregation.

"I knew what it was like to have to sit in the back of the bus and what it was like to have to drink out of white and black fountains and not be able to go to a restaurant," she said. "Everybody wanted to be a part of that and to go and do something about it."

When Knight got to Selma, she saw thousands of people from all over the country.

"In that first march, that Tuesday, I was marching about four rows behind Martin Luther King, and I could see him, I could see everything that he was saying, everything he was doing," she said.

Knight recalled they were happy and singing as they headed to Montgomery.

"But little did we know that the National Guard was on the other side of the bridge, and the police was on the other side of the bridge waiting on us," she said. "So when we got there, then fear grappled us and grappled me because I saw what was going on, and I'm wondering, now, what do we do now? Is this going to happen to us, what happened on Bloody Sunday? Are we going to be trampled and beaten?"

Knight knew that there were people that wanted to kill her, "but there's some things that is bigger than fear and more important to you than fear."

"That's when they pointed the bayonets at us, and then they drew the guns on us. And so, Martin Luther King turned around toward us and looked at us and he said, 'We're going to pray,'" Knight said. "And so we all kneeled down to pray. And when we got up, he said, 'We're going to go to Montgomery ... we're not going to go tonight ... because I don't anybody to get killed.'"

Knight says it took the group five days to get from Selma to Montgomery, which was approximately 50 miles away.

Thousands and thousands were there, and we were just jubilant," Knight said. "Justice is justice; fairness is fairness. That belongs to everybody ... that's the way God made us."

Knight was at the Kingdom Day Parade on Monday, and she said she will likely head back to Selma in March to mark the 50th anniversary of that life-changing event.

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