KNOXVILLE (WATE) – People in Knoxville will mark next month the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, that came to be known as “Bloody Sunday” with a march across the Gay Street Bridge and a program of music and theater performances.

The event, sponsored by the City of Knoxville as part of an ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is free and open to the public.

The march begins on Sunday, March 8, at 2 p.m. at the southern end of the Gay Street Bridge. Marchers will go across the bridge, right on Hill Avenue and then left on Hall of Fame Drive to the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum where the program will begin at 3 p.m.

Anyone wishing to take part should park in the garages at the Civic Auditorium and Coliseum and take a free shuttle buss to the Gay Street Bridge. The bridge and parade route will be temporarily closed to traffic

The program at the Civic Coliseum Ballroom will include a performance by The Carpetbag Theatre, songs from the Northwest Middle School student choir and spoken word performances by local artist Black Atticus.

The “Black Sunday” march happened on March 7, 1965, and was dramatized in the recent film “Selma.” It was the first of three marches in which people attempted to walk from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery to advocate for African-American voting rights. When marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, then met a large amount of Alabama State Troopers and county officers who attacked the marchers.

The publicity helped persuade President Lyndon B. Johnson to introduce the Voting Rights Act.

More online: Knoxville Voting Rights Act anniversary events