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Politics Lawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday'

06:20  08 march  2021
06:20  08 march  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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Lawmakers and activists marked the 56th anniversary of “ Bloody Sunday ” in Selma, Ala., through a mostly virtual commemoration – the first without the late civil rights leader John Lewis John Lewis Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout ' Bloody Sunday ' to be commemorated for first time without John Lewis Democrats worry Senate will be graveyard for Biden This year’s # BloodySunday commemoration is the first without civil rights legends Congressman John Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery, Rev. C.T. Vivian, and Bruce Boynton, who all passed away in 2020.

Fifty-five years ago this month, activists marched in Alabama to demand voting rights for African Americans. Four participants reflect on what has changed.

Lawmakers and activists marked the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, Ala., through a mostly virtual commemoration - the first without the late civil rights leader John Lewis.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Lawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday' © Getty Images Lawmakers, activists remember civil rights icons to mark 'Bloody Sunday'

The event usually brings thousands to Selma to recognize the 1965 march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which ended with law enforcement officers brutally beating marchers. Images from the day shook the nation and led to support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

This year, advocates honored Lewis, who went on to represent Georgia's 5th Congressional District for decades in Congress, and three other late civil rights leaders, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, the Rev. C.T. Vivian and attorney Bruce Boynton, with wreaths at the bridge. All four died in 2020.

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The voting- rights bill includes provisions to restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes. Democrats say the bill will help stifle voter suppression attempts, while Republicans have cast With his executive order, Biden is looking to turn the spotlight on the issue and is using the somber commemoration of Bloody Sunday to make the case that much is at stake. Bloody Sunday proved to be a conscious-shocking turning point in the civil

Bloody Sunday memorial to honor late civil rights giants. Activists to remember the late John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, C.T. Vivian and Bruce Boynton at a virtual commemoration of Biden to mark ‘ Bloody Sunday ’ by signing voting rights order. The address takes place on the anniversary of the

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Betty Boynton and Martin Luther King III carried the wreaths across the bridge, according to the Selma Times-Journal.

For the anniversary, speakers made remarks during a service at the African Methodist Episcopal church the Brown Chapel, which acted as a headquarters during the civil rights movement, according to USA Today. A small group, including those who marched in 1965, participated in a re-enactment of the bridge crossing while socially distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The virtual event showed video footage from the 1965 day, quoted speakers who were present and featured Birmingham artist Alvin Garrett singing "It Starts in the Heart."

Sewell, who represents the district including Selma, noted Lewis's absence in a speech saying that, "While my heart breaks knowing that John will not lead this year's commemorative march, my hope is that we will rededicate ourselves to his life's work by restoring the full protections of the Voting Rights Act."

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"Voter suppression is still alive and well," she added, according to The Associated Press. "It reminds us that progress is elusive and every generation must fight and fight again."

The Martin & Coretta King Unity Breakfast was held as a drive-in event this year, where Cliff Albright, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, called for continued support for voter rights, noting "The movement is not over," according to the AP.

To mark the anniversary, President Biden signed an executive order to protect voter access as Republican legislatures have pushed to restrict voting after the 2020 election.

"Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have it counted. If you have the best ideas - you have nothing to hide. Let more people vote, the president said in pre-recorded remarks for the breakfast.

Other current and former officials and lawmakers addressed the event in social media posts, including former President Obama.

"Fifty-six years after Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet over," he said. "There are more steps to be taken, more bridges to be crossed. And that's why the Obama Presidential Center is designed to honor the giants who carried us and inspire the next generation to lead us forward."

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