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Oprah joins cast of Selma to march for Martin Luther King Jr

MARCH: Oprah Winfrey lowers her head to pray with actor David Oyelowo, who portrays Martin Luther King Jr. in the movie Selma, before they march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

OPRAH JOINED the cast and director of Civil Rights film Selma to retread the steps of Martin Luther King Jr. and those who were tear-gassed as they marched for their civil rights in Alabama some 50 years ago.

Winfrey, a producer of the Oscar-nominated film who also had a role, helped lead the march with the film's director, Ava DuVernay, actor David Oyelowo, who portrayed King in the movie, and the rapper Common.

They and others marched from Selma City Hall to the city's Edmund Pettus Bridge, where civil rights protesters were beaten and tear-gassed by officers in 1965.

"Every single person who was on that bridge is a hero," Winfrey told the marchers before they walked up the bridge as the sun was going down over the Alabama River.

Their steps in tribute to King in Alabama came as key black members of Congress elsewhere invoked recent police shootings of young black men as evidence that reforms are needed to ensure equal justice for all.

Winfrey said those who came to Selma were seeking to remember "Martin Luther King as an idea, Selma as an idea and what can happen with strategy, with discipline and with love."

Selma chronicles the campaign leading up to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and the subsequent passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Law enforcement officers used clubs and tear gas on March 7, 1965 — Bloody Sunday — to rout marchers intent on walking some 50 miles to Montgomery, the Alabama capital, to seek the right for blacks to register to vote.

A new march, led by Martin Luther King Jr., began on March 21 of that year and arrived in Montgomery days later with the crowd swelling to 25,000.

During yesterday's march (Jan 18), Common and John Legend performed their Oscar-nominated song Glory from the movie as marchers crested the top of the bridge amid the setting sun.

The life and legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who would've turned 86 on Thursday (Jan 15), also was being celebrated at the church he pastored in Atlanta.

The current pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, said the annual King holiday is a time when "all of God's children are busy spreading the message of freedom and justice."

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