U. S. House Approves Congressional Gold Medal for 1965 Voting Rights Marchers

Marchers stream across the Alabama River by way of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 21, 1965, the first of a five-day, 50-mile march to the state Capitol. The march route from Selma to Montgomery has been designated a national historic trail. (Photo: AP)
Marchers stream across the Alabama River by way of the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 21, 1965, the first of a five-day, 50-mile march to the state Capitol. The march route from Selma to Montgomery has been designated a national historic trail.
(Photo: AP)

Foot soldiers in the voting rights marches of 1965 would receive the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress under legislation adopted unanimously Wednesday by the U.S. House.

The bill would award the Congressional Gold Medal to thousands who marched on Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday and the final, successful 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama.

The Senate is expected to quickly approve the measure, followed by a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in the coming weeks.

“The extraordinary bravery and sacrifice these foot soldiers displayed in pursuit of a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery brought national attention to the struggle for equal voting rights, and served as the catalyst for Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which President (Lyndon B.) Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965,” the resolution says.

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, a native of Selma, was the lead sponsor of the Congressional Gold Medal resolution. In a speech on the House floor, Sewell said the marchers were motivated because “they could no longer bear the burdens of second-class citizenship.”

She said the medal is “for their valor and determination in the relentless pursuit of the promise of our great Constitution, that all men and all women were indeed created equal.”

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SOURCE: USA TODAY
Mary Troyan

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