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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Roosevelt Island's Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Joins With President Barack Obama, Congressman John Lewis And Many Others To Commemorate 50th Anniversary Of Bloody Sunday Selma March Across Edmund Pettus Bridge

Yesterday, March 7, marked the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday Selma March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

The New York Times reports:

As a new generation struggles over race and power in America, President Obama and a host of political figures from both parties came here on Saturday, to the site of one of the most searing days of the civil rights era, to reflect on how far the country has come and how far it still has to go.

Fifty years after peaceful protesters trying to cross a bridge were beaten by police officers with billy clubs, shocking the nation and leading to passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, the nation’s first African-American president led a bipartisan, biracial testimonial to the pioneers whose courage helped pave the way for his own election to the highest office of the land....
Click here for the full NY Times article.

Roosevelt Island's Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney went to commemorate the Selma March.

According to this Press Release from Congresswoman Maloney, she:
... joined Rep. John Lewis (GA-05), civil rights leaders, and more than 100 members of the U.S. House and Senate in Selma, Alabama to mark the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” On March 7, 1965, a group of brave civil rights marchers, including Rep. Lewis, marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on their way to Montgomery to demand that African American citizens be finally given their constitutional right to vote. At the bridge, the marchers were attacked by Alabama State troopers, with billy clubs, cattle prods, and tear gas. Many of the marchers were injured, some of them severely.

“It is an honor to join with civil rights leaders to mark ‘Bloody Sunday’, a dark day in US History but a crucial turning point in the civil rights movement,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “What started as a peaceful march intended as a symbol for full voting rights quickly degraded into a display of horrific brutality. Hundreds of demonstrators were beaten bloody. While we have made great strides since that day, there is still much to be done. Voter suppression is alive and well, and Voter ID laws across the country are an upsetting reality. I hope that our trip to Selma will refocus the country’s attention on the necessity of equal voting rights for all, independent of color, creed, or financial status.”

The images of “Bloody Sunday” galvanized the nation. On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson addressed a Joint Session of Congress, urging Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act. On March 21, Martin Luther King Jr. led a march across the bridge – this time joined by 30,000 people from across the country, including national civil rights leaders like current Congressman John Lewis and Hollywood and other celebrities, and protected by federal troops. On March 25, the marchers reached the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, where Reverend King and the other marchers called for voting rights legislation.

“Five short months after ‘Bloody Sunday,’ President Johnson signed the landmark Voting Rights Act,” Maloney said. “It outlawed discriminatory voting practices, but much of it has unfortunately been weakened by the Supreme Court. Congress must take action to update the Voting Rights Act, and I’ll be fighting to make sure that happens. The heroes of the civil rights movement fought with everything they had to achieve the Voting Rights Act. We cannot not dishonor their sacrifice by letting these landmark protections slip away.”
Here's remarks from Congressman John Lewis

and President Barack Obama

from the March 7 Selma Bloody Sunday commemoration.

Listen to stories from some of the people who were at the Blood Sunday march 50 years ago.