It’s not likely that the United States of America would ever witness such historical event as the 50th anniversary of the Salma, Alabama march which led to the historic Voting Rights amendment. Even the Oscar nominated movie ‘Selma’ probably did not do enough justice as was done by a combination of President Barack Obama, Rep. John Lewis, President George Bush and tens of thousands of people who joined to commemorate the “Bloody Sunday” march of 1965 and take stock of the struggle for equality. Under a bright sun, the first black U.S. president praised the figures of a civil rights era that he was too young to know but that helped him break the ultimate racial barrier in political history with his ascension to the highest office. He called them “warriors of justice” who pushed America closer to a more perfect union.
“So much of our turbulent history — the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war, the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow, the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher — met on this bridge,” Obama told the crowd before taking a symbolic walk across part of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the 1965 march erupted into police violence.
Selma’s fire department estimated the crowd reached 40,000. Former President George W. Bush shared the platform. Republican congressional leaders were mostly absent but one, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, joined the walk. The walk progressed under the bold letters on an arch, identifying the bridge named after Pettus, a Confederate general, senator and reputed Ku Klux Klan leader.
Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters walked about a third of the way across, accompanied by Lewis, who has given fellow lawmakers countless tours of this scene. Bush, his wife, Laura, and scores of others came with them before a larger crowd followed.
For Obama, the trip to Selma marks the continued celebration by the first black U.S. president of three of the most important civil rights milestones in America’s tortured racial history. In 2013, Obama spoke at the 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Last year, he addressed the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
By Tosan Aduayi. Credit: Washington Post, CBS news