News: Featured Items
(WASHINGTON) – Over the weekend, U.S. Representatives, civil rights leaders, and advocacy organizations - a “Faith and Politics” coalition - traveled to Selma, Alabama to re-create the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, commemorating “Bloody Sunday,” on Edmund Pettus Bridge. The original march was held on March 7, 1965 and was led by now-Congressman John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Reverend Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Marchers were protesting the shooting death - a month earlier - of a Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young church deacon, who had been protecting his mother from Alabama state trooper’s beatings. The march was largely inspired by the sacrifice of the many civil rights activist, like Jackson, who were engaged in defeating Alabama’s draconian restrictions against African Americans seeking to register to vote. While en route to the state capital of Alabama to confront Governor George Wallace directly about the tragedy, nearly 600 peaceful marchers were met with brutal police resistance as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. After his participation in the march re-creation, Congress John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) issued the following statement:
"Nearly half a century ago, on March 7, 1965, now-Congressman John Lewis and Reverend Hosea Williams led a peaceful march that would change the course of American history. While in response to an unthinkable assault on a young African American man defending his mother against Alabama state troopers, the march - as with the entirety of the civil rights movement - was marked by peace and nonviolence. This past weekend, I had the humbling privilege of participating in a re-creation of that ‘Bloody Sunday’ march. The moving experience is one I will carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Conyers.
“As we marched, reminiscing on the past, we contemplated the conditions of the present and where the civil rights movement stands today. Unquestionably, the struggle for people of color has not worsened since the decades when peaceful activists like John Lewis endured savage state-sponsored treatment. Yet even though Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired many civil rights activists to action by sharing his dream of a Nation united not divided by color, deep rooted problems still remain. Where discrimination was formerly overt, oftentimes an intransigent intolerance boils below the surface today. Discriminatory voting practices still linger that run counter to the gains African Americans have made in democracy. Across the country, ‘stand your ground laws,’ touted in the name of self-defense, tear apart families and communities apart. Promoting over-incarceration - and over-criminalization of minor offenses - disproportionately devastate minority communities, locking away our youth. And widespread unemployment robs millions of the stability that gainful employment provides in the present and the promise it offers for the future.
“In all of these obstacles, we are reminded that much works remains to be done to fully realize Dr. King’s vision of ‘jobs, peace and justice.’ Only through remembering and recreating our shared stories can we keep our history alive - and the Nation moving forward - as the struggle continues.”
Representatives Conyers, Lewis, & Holmes Norton on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, marching alongside their colleagues and civil rights activists.