"To see innocent people attacked that way, it was horrible." said Watkins.
Hollis Watkins, of Jackson was among the 600 marchers who tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama. He was in the back of the line when state troopers attacked the crowd killing 14 people. Watkins was not hurt. He was active in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, registering voters, taking part in lunch counter sit-ins and protests. The Tougaloo College student was fearless.
"I have never been in fear of my life. I say that because I had and still have a spiritual connection with the creator. He sent me a message, or gave me a message, that I would never be killed as a result of the civil rights movement." said Watkins.
Saturday, in Selma, the 73-year old was honored with the Freedom Flame Century Award for his service and work to promote social justice through his organization, "Southern Echo." Nsombi Lambright, with "One Voice" an advocacy and leadership development organization, said she grew up hearing about stories like Watkins.' Sunday, Lambright took some students to Selma for the bridge crossing.
"When you get to the other side and you see the memorial to individuals who lost their lives, you can't help but feel that sadness and what happened back then, but also a little joy in knowing we've come a long way since then." said Lambright.
The commemoration continues with participants marching to Montgomery for an event on Friday.