SELMA, Ala. — Atlanta’s legendary Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) show unequivocally that, even 50 years later, the events of “Bloody Sunday” at the Edmund Pettus Bridge that nearly killed him still means a great deal to the unabashed progressive leader.
President Obama led the ceremony Saturday marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march, lauding the the men and women who fought for civil rights in the 1960s.
“There are places, and moments in America, where this nation’s destiny has been decided,” the president said. “Selma is such a place.”
He spoke from the Edmund Pettus Bridge on which, five decades earlier, police using clubs and tear gas to savagely beat civil rights demonstrators on March 7, 1965. The event is considered a watershed moment in the civil rights movement and helped lead to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“In one afternoon 50 years ago, 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 said, turning to Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who was present at the march. “It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.”
Obama was joined by a delegation that included the first family, former President George W. Bush and roughly 100 members of Congress, including Lewis, who was seriously injured in the march. Members of the group, which also included former first lady Laura Bush, joined hands on stage after the president’s speech.
Obama, his wife, Michelle, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha, then walked about a third of the way across the bridge, accompanied by Lewis, who has given fellow lawmakers countless tours of this scene. Bush, his wife and scores of others came with them before a larger crowd followed.
“We have come to Selma to be reminded that we have do the work that justice and equality calls us to do,” Lewis said.
Tens of thousands of others also attended the event. Congressional Republican leaders were absent from the event, but House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio released a statement.
Atlanta Icon John Lewis honored by President Obama at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge was originally published on atlantadailyworld.com