It was spring vacation in my Junior year. I wanted to do battle in the front lines. It might have been good for the movement, if future Republicans hadf murdered a young white boy, not yet 17. But the protestors were better that that. For my own safety, two very large and very kindly black ladies linked arms with me, refused to let go, and kept me well behind the front lines. I didn’t get to see much of the violence, but I did get to see way too much blood. Fifty years later, Obama was upbeat, but realistic.
On this day in 1965, the nation watched as peaceful civil rights demonstrators were savagely beaten by police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., a bloody sacrifice that historians credit with helping to usher in the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act days later.
Fifty years later, with the nation embroiled in a fresh debate about race in America, the country’s first black president joined a bipartisan congressional delegation and tens of thousands of marchers at the foot of the iconic civil rights landmark to commemorate a day that forever altered the landscape of American history.
“There are places, and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided,” President Obama told the sea of people who had stood for hours to hear him pay tribute to the day known as Bloody Sunday. “Many are sites of war – Concord and Lexington, Appomattox and Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character – Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.”
“Selma is such a place,” he added.
The speech came several days after the Justice Department released a searing report admonishing police in Ferguson, Mo., for engaging in a vicious pattern of racial bias. The police department was home to Darren Wilson, a white officer whose killing in August of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, sparked nationwide protests about police brutality in communities of color throughout the United States…
Inserted from <Washington Post>
The Post was overly generous to call the Congressional delegation bipartisan. Many of the Republicans present attended only after their intended absence became a talking point.
Here is the video of Obama’s address in it’s entirety.
One key focus of the speech is that the civil rights movement continues today and has helped many different minorities. How sad it is that racism was waning quickly, and we would be much further along had the Republican party not embraced racism, as part of the Southern strategy. Obama alluded to this, but called for us to press on, as the struggle is not yet over.
Another key focus of the speech was the Voting Rights Act. He alluded to those who are keeping it week, without calling out the Republican Party by name. He also said that the Congressional delegation could prove their sincerity by returning to Washington and fixing the voting rights act.
I have no doubt that I’ll have more coverage of this story, because these Republicans now need to prove to their rabid base that their sheets and hoods are still intact. They will immediately return to abusing their power to disenfranchise minority voters.