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John Lewis makes inspiring, passionate appearance at Selma remembrance of ‘Bloody Sunday’

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis speaks on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on Sunday, March 1, 2020. (Jake Crandall, USA Today)
By Bro Krift
Montgomery Advertiser/USA Today

U.S. Rep. John Lewis speaks on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on Sunday, March 1, 2020. (Jake Crandall, USA Today)

Congressman John Lewis, who was attacked with tear gas and police’s billy clubs on Bloody Sunday in Selma in 1965, made an unexpected, inspiring appearance at the 55th anniversary remembrance of the protest, leading marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday.

Lewis, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, was not expected to be at the event until an announcement from his office the morning of the final day of Jubilee, the annual events marking the voting rights protests in Selma.

“I thought I was going to die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, god almighty helped me here,” he said of what he experienced 55 years ago.

Lewis then told the crowd on the bridge to keep fighting today.

“We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize,” he said caught on television cameras. “We must go out and vote like we never ever voted before. Some people gave more than a little blood. Some gave their very lives.”

Lewis’ appearance overshadowed the presidential candidates posturing for Alabama’s voters allegiance ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday. All of the major candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination except Bernie Sanders were expected to be in Selma this weekend.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off his decisive South Carolina primary victory, spoke at Brown Chapel, as did Michael Bloomberg. Several people turned their backs in protest on the former New York mayor when Bloomberg made his remarks.

Biden earned the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones before Biden’s remarks.