WATCH IT HERE: President Obama commemorates Selma marches and activism

Written by on March 9, 2015

This past weekend, nearly 100,000 people flooded Selma, AL to commemorate the 50th anniversary of marches that originated there on March 7, 1965, to demand and show support for African Americans’ right to vote. President Barack Obama and dozens of civil rights leaders and activists, past and present, were also in Selma for the remembrance.

In recognition of the sacrifices made that weekend and since, President Obama delivered a moving speech considered by some to be his best since taking office. We invite you watch below. Much more about his activities in Selma, including leading a group of past and present activists over the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge, can be read about, seen, and heard at the White House’s Selma commemoration page. You can also read more about the history of the Selma – Montgomery marches in our recap, just below this video.

History of the commemorations:

On March 7, 1965 – sometimes referred to as “Bloody Sunday,” several hundred marchers left Selma for the capital city of Montgomery, AL. As they crossed Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were violently attacked by state troopers who viciously beat the marchers, leaving scores bloody and injured, and many unconscious. Two days later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. attempted a second march over the same bridge with roughly 2,500 activists and protestors, only to be forced by court order to turn back.

Finally, on March 21, 1965, Dr. King led a massive group over the bridge toward Montgomery under Federal orders that they be protected by both U.S. Army troops and members of the Alabama National Guard. It took them three days to reach Montgomery, and by the time the group got to the state capitol building with a petition for then-governor George Wallace, more than 25,000 had joined the march.

Pressure continued to build and by August 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act (signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6). The Voting Rights Act was intended to get rid of the countless legal and illegal barriers to voting that had prevented Blacks from exercising their constitutional right to vote under the 15th Amendment.


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