President Biden made use of the intense images of Selma’s “Bloody Sunday” to recommit to the foundation of democratic values, while praising an important moment in the movement for civil rights in a period where he’s not been able to force more voting protections through Congress and the conservatism-based Supreme Court has undermined a important voting law.
“Selma is a reckoning. The right to vote … to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty. With it anything’s possible,” Biden claimed. Biden told a crowd of more than 1,000 who sat on the other side of the historical Edmund Pettus Bridge which is named for a prominent Ku Klux Klan head.
“This fundamental right remains under assault. The conservative Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years. Since the 2020 election, a wave of states and dozens and dozens of anti-voting laws fueled by the ‘Big Lie’ and the election deniers now elected to office,” he added.
In his bid for the 2020 presidential election Biden. Biden promised to pursue broad legislation to strengthen the protections for voting rights. In the past the legislation he introduced in 2021, named for civil rights activist John Lewis, the late Georgia congressman, had the ability to stop the gerrymandering of congressional districts by partisans and to eliminate obstacles in voting, and provide transparency to the electoral finance system which permits wealthy donors to finance political campaigns in a non-disclosure manner.
It passed the then-Democratic-controlled House, but it failed to draw the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate even under control of Mr. Biden’s party. With Republicans now ruling the House the passage of this legislation is extremely unlikely.
“We know we must get the votes in Congress,” Mr. Biden said, but there’s no way to go at the moment.
The trip to Selma was an opportunity for Biden. Biden to speak directly to the younger generations of activist for the civil rights. Many feel disappointed due to the slow progress made on voting rights, and want to see the administration continue to keep this issue on the agenda.
The Vice President. Biden began his remarks by stressing the importance of remembrance of Bloody Sunday so that history isn’t erased.
“We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know, and not what we should know,” Biden said. Biden said in his speech on Sunday. He seemed to criticize Florida Governor. Ron DeSantis and the controversy over AP African American History. “We should learn the good, the bad, the truth of who we are as a nation. And everyone should learn the truth of Selma.”
Few moments have had such significant an impact on this movement like what was witnessed on March 7, 1965 in Selma and the days that came after.
About 600 peaceful protesters lead by Lewis and activists Hosea Williams had been gathered that day, only a few weeks after the shooting death of a teenage Black male, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by an Alabama trooper.
Lewis and his companions were brutally assaulted and beaten by Alabama police officers and sheriff’s deputy when they attempted to traverse the Edmund Pettus Bridge at the beginning of what was believed to be a walk of 54 miles towards the Alabama Montgomery state Capitol located in Montgomery within a much larger campaign to get registered Black voter in Alabama’s South.
“On this bridge, blood was given to help redeem the soul of America,” Biden said. Biden said.
The photos of police brutality caused outrage across the United States. Then, a few days later, civil-rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of what became known as”the “Turnaround Tuesday” march, where participants walked towards the police station at the bridge and prayed prior to returning.
The president Lyndon B. Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act of 1965, eight days following “Bloody Sunday,” calling Selma one of those rare events in American history when “history and fate meet at a single time.” On the 21st of March King started an additional march under federal protection. It was a huge success when they arrived in the State Capitol. Five months after, Johnson signed the bill into law.
The commemoration this year took place when the city of approximately 18,000 people was still recovering from an aftermath from a tornado that damaged or destroyed thousands of homes within and surrounding Selma. The effects of the storm were evident on Sunday. Blocks surrounding the stage on which Biden was speaking, there were a number of houses. Biden spoke, houses were destroyed or had no roofs. Orange spray paint marked structures that were beyond salvaging with directions for “tear down.”
“We remain Selma strong,” Mayor James Perkins said, adding that “we will build back better.” He thanked President. Biden for approving a declaration of disaster which helped Selma with the expense of cleanup and removal.
Prior to the event of. Biden’s visit to the White House, the Rev. William Barber II, a co-chairman of Poor People’s Campaign, and six other activists wrote to the chairman and president of Congress to express their disappointment over slow progress with the issue of voting rights. They asked Washington lawmakers who were in Selma not to ruin the memory of Lewis and Williams and other civil rights activists by offering insincere phrases.
“We’re saying to President Biden, let’s frame this to America as a moral issue, and let’s show how it effects everybody,” Barber stated during an interview.
On the stage together with Biden prior to Biden’s parade across the bridge were Barber and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton.
The water bottles were distributed to the people that gathered to hear the speech of the speech of Mr. Biden and at least one person was removed on a stretcher for the high-70s temperatures. Many had waited for long hours in the sun until relief was provided by shadows that were cast by nearby buildings.
Delores Gresham, who is 65, a former health worker from Birmingham was there four hours earlyand snagged an upper-level seat so that her grandchildren could listen to the president’s speech and witness the celebration.
“I want them to know what happened here,” she added.
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