By: Richard Meyer ~Copy Editor~
President Barack Obama and other leaders joined thousands of civil rights activists in a march remembering the events of what is known as “Bloody Sunday” on the weekend of March 7-8.
About 70,000 activists crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the place where Amelia Boynton Robinson and hundreds of other activists marching in a peaceful protest had been severely beaten 50 years ago.
Robinson was present for the commemoration and, at 103 years old, was wheeled across the bridge holding the president’s hand.
President Obama delivered what has been referred to as one of his most important and best speeches on March 7 at the bridge.
“First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough,” Obama said. “If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done ― the American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation.”
In 1965, about 600 activists met in Selma to march for voting rights. After six blocks of marching, the activists were met by Alabama state troopers who beat and tear gassed them.
Martin Luther King, Jr., led another march a few weeks later that began in the same place with about 3,200 marchers, but the number increased to about 25,000 as they made their way to Montgomery. The events led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, removing many obstacles for black U.S. citizens to vote.
Thousands of people from around the country met in Selma to make the weeklong and roughly 50-mile march to Montgomery in memory of Bloody Sunday.
“Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer,” Obama said.
The anniversary comes at a time of high racial tensions in respect to police brutality and racial disparity.
“We just need to open our eyes and ears and hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us,” Obama said.