Sunday, March 8, 2015

Selma- 50th Anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" draws thousands


President Barack Obama joined nearly 100 members of Congress in Selma, Alabama, on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" -- a watershed moment of the civil rights movement -- where he honored the men and women who stood their ground in a violent confrontation with police at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

"We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod, tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice," Obama said in a soaring speech that addressed race and civil rights.

The president hailed Selma as a city of extreme importance to America's history -- on par with wartime settings of Concord, Lexington and Gettysburg, and places where innovation took great strides such as Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral. And he paid deference to the foot soldiers who sparked a movement: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young and Fred Shuttlesworth, among others.

 "What they did here will reverberate through the ages," Obama said. "Not because the change they won was preordained, not because their victory was complete, but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate."

In attendance for the event were Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., and Lewis, who rallied alongside the civil rights leader and still bears visible scars from his involvement in the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Joining them at the famed bridge were thousands of citizens, civil rights activists and politicians, including former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura.

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