(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden will travel to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the 58th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”
There, Biden will speak at the Edmund Pettus Bridge — where in 1965 hundreds of civil rights marchers were attacked by police. The violence, which sparked national outrage, marked a turning point in the movement and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
“In his remarks, President Biden will talk about the importance of commemorating Bloody Sunday so that history cannot be erased,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday as she previewed the trip. “He will highlight how the continued fight for voting rights is integral to delivering economic justice and civil rights for Black Americans.”
Biden has continued to speak on voting rights, highlighting the issue in a sermon honoring Martin Luther King Jr. in January and in his State of the Union, despite legislation faltering during his first two years in the Oval Office.
Democrats attempted last year to update the 1965 Voting Rights Act with a bill named after the late Congressman John Lewis, who was beaten and suffered a skull fracture during Bloody Sunday, but failed to gain enough support to break the Senate filibuster. Now, with a Republican-led House, any effort to push legislation through will face an even greater challenge.
“In America, we must protect the right to vote, not suppress that fundamental right. We honor the results of our elections, not subvert the will of the people. We must uphold the rule of the law and restore trust in our institutions of democracy,” Biden said during his State of the Union last month.
Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Selma last year for the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Harris said the marchers beaten by state troopers were fighting for “the most fundamental right of American citizenship: The right to vote.”
“Today, we stand on this bridge at a different time. We again, however, find ourselves caught in between injustice and justice, between disappointment and determination, still in a fight to form a more perfect union,” Harris said. “And nowhere is that more clear than when it comes to the ongoing fight to secure the freedom to vote.”
Biden in 2020, while he was on the campaign trail, received a warm reception as he addressed the congregation gathered at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma to observe Bloody Sunday.
Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., said she invited Biden to attend the Bloody Sunday anniversary during his State of the Union.
“I look forward to welcoming the President to my hometown as we reflect on the sacrifices of the Foot Soldiers in the name of equality and justice for all,” Sewell said in a statement.
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