SELMA, Ala. — Many black residents of Selma who lived through the marches 50 years ago recall the time with a mix of nostalgia and heartbreak; they’re overjoyed that history was made but saddened by the price it extracted.

“It was a painful time but also an exciting time,” Clara Hunter, 58, and a lifelong resident of Selma, said in a recent interview. Hunter rode all the way in the back of a truck from Selma to Montgomery during the successful third attempt at a march, joining various family members in the convoy.

“I don’t even remember where I slept. I was so young, but even then I think I knew how important it was to be there,” she said.

Older residents felt those March 1965 days even more pointedly.

Francis Felles, 94, said that she recalled all the years when restaurant owners would make her enter near the back or wait hours even when no one was in line. “And the whole thing with the poll tax. They’d say, ‘You fill out a form,’ and then they’d say, ‘We’ll get back to you.’ I haven’t heard from them yet,” she said.

Felles, a retired teacher, remembered a fellow educator at her school becoming involved in a confrontation with Jim Clark, the notorious anti-integration sheriff during the time of the marches. “She just slapped him,” Felles said, giving a tart laugh. “He didn’t bother her after that. He bothered other people, but not her.”

“Bloody Sunday” still evokes raw memories for many Selma residents, even for those who were not on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That day, screams wafted over the town; nurses and doctors were called in to Good Samaritan Hospital as the wounded began pouring in.

At a downtown diner, Calvin Griffin, 58, a lifelong Selma resident, remembered, “There were people lying on the floor bloody. There were policemen with billy clubs.”