above: Ms. Bland on the Foot Soldiers Park site in 2017 with Jordan Cournoyer-Herivaux '17 and Emma La Sala '17. More recent photos of Bland with Gordon students on Instagram
For many recent Gordon graduates, the early-March anniversary of the 1965 Bloody Sunday violence in Selma, Alabama sparks memories of eighth grade, and of Joanne Bland.
This year, Bland herself is part of the anniversary news, as she formally launches Foot Soldiers Park, an effort to preserve and memorialize the site where the Selma-to-Montgomery marches began.
Since 2002, hundreds of Gordon eighth graders have stood on that block of concrete with Ms. Bland while she pressed pebbles into their hands and urged them to continue the work of the 1965 marchers. Ms. Bland's tour of Selma is a highlight of Gordon's annual Civil Rights Trip, a four-day journey to Georgia and Alabama to visit the sites of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and to meet with activists like Ms. Bland who continue the work today.
Ms. Bland and Sheyann Webb, who is on the Foot Soldiers Park advisory board, have both served as Gordon's hosts in Selma. The two of them participated in the Selma-to-Montgomery marches as children, and have continued to serve as community leaders to this day. In 2010, Ms. Bland traveled to Gordon to speak at the 2010 Commencement ceremony.