The Birmingham Times
Nearly two dozen young people from the Housing Authority of Birmingham District (HABD) were in Selma to commemorate the 58th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.”
“We were proud to travel to Selma with more than 20 HABD youth residents ages 8-14 for the 58th annual Jubilee,” said Meagan Holland, HABD’s Director of Public Relations. “Exposing our youth residents to opportunities beyond affordable housing only helps to broaden their horizons and curiosity for knowledge.”
The trip was “incredibly rewarding” because it created an opportunity for the young people “to hear President Joe Biden, meet Congresswoman Terri Sewell, and learn more about how the commemoration of ‘Bloody Sunday’ is vital to our collective, continued fight for civil and fundamental rights,” Holland said.
Biden spoke on the importance of voting rights and said Selma “is a reckoning. The right to vote … to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty. With it anything’s possible,” Biden told a crowd of several thousand people seated on one side of the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“This fundamental right remains under assault,” the President said. “The conservative Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years. Since the 2020 election, a wave of states and dozens and dozens of anti-voting laws fueled by the ‘Big Lie’ and the election deniers now elected to office.”
Delores Gresham, 65, a retired health care worker from Birmingham, arrived four hours early, grabbing a front-row spot so her grandchildren could hear the president and see the commemoration.
“I want them to know what happened here,” she said.
Few moments have had as lasting importance to the Civil Rights movement as what happened on March 7, 1965, in Selma and in the weeks that followed.
Some 600 peaceful demonstrators led by the late Congressman John Lewis and fellow activist Hosea Williams had gathered that day, just weeks after the fatal shooting of a young Black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by an Alabama trooper.
Lewis and the others were brutally beaten by Alabama troopers and sheriff’s deputies as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge at the start of what was supposed to be a 54-mile walk to the state Capitol in Montgomery as part of a larger effort to register Black voters in the South.
“On this bridge, blood was given to help redeem the soul of America,” Biden said.
The images of the police violence sparked outrage across the country. Days later, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. led what became known as the “Turnaround Tuesday” march, in which marchers approached a wall of police at the bridge and prayed before turning back.
President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act of 1965 eight days after “Bloody Sunday,” calling Selma one those rare moments in American history where “ history and fate meet at a single time. ” On March 21, King began a third march, under federal protection, that grew by thousands by the time they arrived at the state Capitol. Five months later, Johnson signed the bill into law.
Associated Press contributed to this report.