President Joe Biden to visit Alabama on Sunday to mark 58th anniversary anniversary of the iconic Bloody Sunday a march that galvanized the civil rights movement and contributed to the expansion of voting rights.
Biden’s Selma stop comes as he and fellow Democrats struggle to enact their own sweeping voting rights measures with dim prospects of a passage in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
However, Biden is planning to make new calls for new vote protections when he speaks from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where in 1965 a group of civil rights marchers were beaten by white state soldiers as they tried to cross the border.
The President will take part in the annual bridge walk to commemorate events that sparked outrage and helped rally support for the Voting Rights Act. Among the beaten protesters was a late member of the US House of Representatives. John Lewis
Apart from her place in history, Selma is also still recovering from devastating tornadoes that hit two months ago.
This is not the first time Biden has attended anniversary events in Selma; in 2020, during his run for president, he spoke at the historic AME Brown Chapel Church, working to woo black voters in the lead-up to Super Tuesday.
“We were thrown back, and we lost the ground under our feet. We saw too clearly that if you give hate a break, it will return,” he said then in his speech.
Biden would subsequently win the Democratic nomination and become president, due in large part to his support of black voters.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who represented the administration at the anniversary event last year, said in a Sunday statement that “America is witnessing a new attack on freedom of the vote.”
“Extremists have worked to destroy the voting rights system that generations of civil rights leaders and advocates have fought tirelessly for. They struck the voters off the lists. They have closed polling stations. They made it a crime to hand out water to those in line,” she said.
During last year’s event, Harris vowed that she and Biden “will put the full power of the executive branch in support of our common efforts,” while criticizing Republican lawmakers for voting to block passage of the John Lewis Extended Voting Rights Act and the Free Voting. Act. . . She urged those gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge to “continue to insist that the Senate does not allow a secret rule to deprive us of a sacred right.”
On Sunday, Biden plans to “talk about the importance of celebrating Bloody Sunday so history can’t be erased,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
“He will highlight how the ongoing struggle for voting rights is integral to securing economic justice and civil rights for black Americans,” she said.
Bloody Sunday is celebrated when, in 1965, 600 people marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama demanding an end to discrimination in voter registration. On the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state and local law enforcement attacked demonstrators with batons and tear gas, forcing them to return to Selma. The police hospitalized 17 people, dozens more were injured.
This story was updated with more information on Sunday.