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Selma, Alabama: Shey Webb

Sheyann Webb was named for her great-great-grandmother, who had been a slave. To pronounce her name right, Shey said, “You drop the ‘e’ so it sounds like shy.”  Fifty years ago today, March 7, 1965, a day that would become known as Bloody Sunday, eight-year-old Shey Webb went alone to join a group of civil rights activists who were going to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in downtown Selma, Alabama. As the nonviolent marchers proceeded, troopers on foot and on horseback charged them. “Some of them had clubs, others had ropes or whips, which they swung about them like they were driving cattle,” Shey later recalled.  Escaping the violence she ran home. Her mother held her in her arms. That night she joined other shocked marchers. Suddenly, she recalled, somebody started humming. “I think they were moaning and it just went into the humming of a freedom song. It was real low, but some of us children began humming along, slow and soft. . .It started to swell, the humming. Then we began singing the words: . . .’ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round. Nobody.””  Called the “Smallest Freedom Fighter” by Martin Luther King, Jr., Shey later said: “We were just people, ordinary people, and we did it.”

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