SELMA, Alabama — Vice President Joe Biden is in Selma this morning for the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the violent 1965 clash between law enforcement and protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march for voting rights.
Images of the clash in which officers wielded billy clubs and tear gas against protesters helped galvanize support for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Biden will speak at noon at the Unity Day Brunch. He will then join a crowd expected to numbers in the thousands as the group makes the annual symbolic crossing across the bridge.
Biden’s visit comes four days after the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act which requires states with a history of discrimination to get Justice Department approval before making any change to election procedure. The case is out of Alabama’s Shelby County. Shelby County argued the South and Shelby County has changed and the oversight is no longer needed.
On March 7, 1965 marchers made it just a few blocks from the churches where they had assembled. When they reached Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were attacked by state troopers and Dallas County deputies, some on horseback wielding billy clubs and firing canisters of tear gas into the marchers.
The attack was broadcast on national news programs and reported in newspapers throughout the country.
Eight days later, President Lyndon Johnson called a joint session of the Congress where he proposed the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. Later that year, 100 years after the end of the Civil War, African-Americans were guaranteed the right to vote.
- VP Joe Biden and AG Eric Holder in Selma today for “Bloody Sunday” commemoration (al.com)
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- U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to participate in Sunday’s Selma commemoration (al.com)
- Vice President Joe Biden to visit Selma on March 3 (al.com)
- VP Biden to attend Selma’s Bridge Crossing Jubilee (mysanantonio.com)