Alva James-Johnson

Alva James-Johnson: 1965 holds a special place in history

The year 1965 has gone down in history as a time to remember.

It was the year of the 1965 voting rights campaign in Selma, Ala., and many other historical achievements that we celebrate today.

But for me, it has even more significant meaning because 1965 was the year I came into the world.

And this year I celebrated my 50th birthday, so forgive me if I seem a bit sentimental.

Now that I've reached half a century, I'm a little more reflective.

And when I think of "Bloody Sunday," which will be commemorated this weekend, I can only imagine how my life might have turned out if the event hadn't occurred.

I arrived just in time to benefit from all of the sacrifices made by people who participated in the civil rights movement.

The right to vote, to live where I choose and to provide my children with a quality education are all privileges I enjoy today.

And I'm grateful for those who paved the way.

There were two other events that occurred in 1965 for which I'm thankful.

The first is an immigration law passed in 1965 called the Hart-Cellar Act, which marked a major turning point in U.S. immigration policy and opened the door for a wave of Caribbean immigrants seeking a better life.

My parents were among them, and they arrived in New York in 1965, the year I was born, making me the first in my immediate family born in this country.

And today I'm proud to be an American.

The second event may seem much less significant.

In 1965, "The Sound of Music" was released. It's my favorite movie and has enriched my life.

Not only do I enjoy all the songs, but my daughters have also developed a love for the musical, making it a wonderful family experience.

Some might consider it corny, but it's just one of "my favorite things." And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Fifty makes you less concerned about what others think and more focused on what really matters.

On Sunday, I will travel to Selma with a group from Columbus to cover the 50th anniversary commemoration of "Bloody Sunday," which eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Among those in attendance will be some who were attacked by Alabama state troopers and local law enforcement as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Thousands are expected to participate in a "Bridge Crossing Jubilee."

I'll be right there with them. But it will be only the second major bridge I have crossed this year.

The first was turning 50.

Alva James-Johnson, 706-571-8521. Reach her on Facebook at AlvaJamesJohnsonLedger.