United States President Barack Obama joined about 100 members of Congress in Selma, Alabama, on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday“, a memorable day in 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. In attendance at the event were Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura; Lewis, who rallied alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and still bears visible scars from his involvement in the marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama & lots more.
Obama also told thousands who gathered at the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” that “the Americans who crossed this bridge, they were not physically imposing, but they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. “
Check out snippets from the event!
“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.
Obama also used this opportunity to talk about the Department of Justice report on the city of Ferguson, Missouri, which detailed gross misconduct against its citizens, that contradicts the belief that racism was no longer an issue in America.
“We don’t need the Ferguson report to know that’s not true,” he said. “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. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character — requires admitting as much.”
Obama closed his speech by urging young Americans to learn from Lewis, whom the president called one of his heroes, by fearlessly taking up the march for progress.
“You are America. Unconstrained by habits and convention. Unencumbered by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be,” he said. “For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, and new ground to cover, and bridges to be crossed. And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.”