Organizers of events marking the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday said Friday that there would be a single march during a weekend expected to include President Barack Obama and veterans of the fight for voting rights and against segregation.
Local officials last month expressed concern that Obama’s presence on Saturday, March 7 — the 50th anniversary — would create pressure for a bridge crossing on that day, rather than Sunday. The local ceremony, commemorating the 1965 attack on civil rights protesters crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, is traditionally held on a Sunday, regardless of when the anniversary falls.
“I think it’s important the sacredness of the Bloody Sunday march has been protected,” said Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma, who has helped organize the local events for decades.
Sanders said Friday that “as far as I know,” the president was not planning to participate in the Sunday march. A release from organizers says Obama is expected to deliver an address on March 7.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who led the 1965 march and was one of the many men and women beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge by state and local police, invited Obama to visit Selma on March 7. Lewis annually leads a congressional delegation to Selma each year, and dozens of members of Congress are expected to come to the events this year. The congressional trip is sponsored by the Faith and Politics Institute, a bipartisan, interfaith nonprofit focused on racial and political reconciliation in Congress.
Lewis told the Advertiser on Sunday that in the past, the marches have drawn “some national figures … that take away from the dignity of the members of Congress coming to reflect. We don’t want it to become a circus. That’s what we’re trying to avoid.”
The release from the organizers, who include Lewis, Rep Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham and the faith institute, says “no organizations in the unified committee will sponsor and or participate in any other march” other than the one on Sunday.
Besides Lewis, other veterans of the civil rights movement — including Amelia Boynton, Andrew Young, Joseph Lowery, Jesse Jackson and Diane Nash — are expected to participate in the events of the weekend.
SOURCE: Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser – Brian Lyman