Youngest Selma Demonstrator Recounts the Chilling March

NEW YORK (AP) — “Steady, loving confrontation.”

Those were the first words Lynda Blackmon Lowery says she heard from the mouth of Martin Luther King, Jr. “And those three words changed my life,” said Lowery, who at 15 was the youngest person to join King for the 1965 march from the Alabama cities of Selma to Montgomery, demanding voting rights for African-Americans.

On Sunday in New York, the now 64-year-old mother and grandmother showed the scar she still bears on the back of her head from a brutal beating at the hands of an Alabama state trooper during an earlier march when she was 14. It took 28 stitches to close the gash, and seven more for a cut above her right eye.

Lowery spoke at the New-York Historical Society on the eve of Monday’s federal holiday marking King’s birthday. The audience represented all races and ages, including children who sidled up to her for photos, peppering her with questions like, faced with the brutality, “Why didn’t you fight back?”