Today (March 5) marks the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a day that is cemented in American history for the bloodshed by hundreds of Black voting rights advocates who were beaten by Alabama state troopers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965.
The march was led by then-25-year-old John Lewis and Reverend Hosea Williams in Selma, Alabama. The late congressman, civil rights leader and 600 others were on a 54-mile trek to Montgomery, the state’s capital, when they were met with lethal force.
The annual commemoration is attended by thousands. This year, President Joe Biden is scheduled to appear and deliver a speech. He last participated in the Bloody Sunday re-enactment trek across the famous bridge in 2019. “This is something that is incredibly important. He looks forward to going to Selma on Sunday, again, on a historic day that we should not forget,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during a briefing earlier in the week.
Bloody Sunday was 58 years ago. It’s not ancient history. pic.twitter.com/Ir8FmFFd2A
— Nina Turner (@ninaturner) March 5, 2023
Vice President Kamala Harris released a statement recognizing the sacrifices of the civil rights activists who endured brutal beatings nearly 60 years ago. “Their courage and their sacrifice inspired many to join the fight for civil rights — to put an end to poll taxes, literacy tests, and other forms of discrimination that blocked Black Americans’ access to the ballot box. They achieved passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which enshrined critical protections for voting rights in federal law,” read Harris’ statement.
Lewis, who was a pillar in the fight for voting rights, passed away in 2020 after a battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He was 80 years old. Georgia’s former 5th Congressional District representative announced that he was ill in 2019 but vowed to fight the disease as he continued efforts to protect the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
President Biden’s full speech can be viewed below.
Join me as I deliver remarks on the importance of commemorating Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. https://t.co/Izs4gtw9zC
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 5, 2023