Quantcast
Connect with us

Obama addresses Selma anniversary attendees: ‘Our march is not over’

Published

on

US President Barack Obama rallied a new generation of Americans to the spirit of the civil rights struggle on Saturday, warning their march for freedom “is not yet finished.”

In a forceful speech in Selma, Alabama on the 50th anniversary of the brutal repression of a peaceful protest, America’s first black president denounced new attempts to restrict voting rights.

And he paid stirring tribute to the sacrifice of a generation of activists who marched so that black Americans could enjoy civil rights and opened the road that eventually led him to the White House.

“We gather here to celebrate them,” he declared, standing on the spot where Alabama state troopers confronted the marchers in scenes that shocked America.

“We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod, tear gas and the trampling hoof, men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice.”

After the Selma march and others like it, then President Lyndon Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act that sought to prevent racist officials from excluding African Americans from the ballot.

ADVERTISEMENT

That law, Obama said, is again under threat from state governments seeking to tighten voter registration rules in a bit to restrict the size of the franchise.

“How can that be?” he asked, noting that previous Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush — who was present for the speech — had renewed it.

“One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right to protect it,” he declared.

“If we want to honor this day, let those hundred go back to Washington and gather four hundred more and together pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.

ADVERTISEMENT

“That is how we honor this bridge,” he said, in front of a crowd estimated at 40,000, more than twice the population of what is still a very poor and mainly black town.

Obama also addressed recent incidents in which police killings of unarmed black men and teenagers had triggered protests and accusations of deep-seated official racism.

“We just need to open our eyes and ears and hearts, to know that this nation’s long racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won,” he said.

“We know that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much, facing up to the truth.”

ADVERTISEMENT

– Honoring the legends –

On March 7, 1965, some 600 peaceful activists were attacked by police with clubs and tear gas at the bridge, a seminal moment in America’s democracy.

The speech was attended by First Lady Michelle Obama and Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia, whom the president has cited as members of a new generation that must take the struggle forward.

And he was introduced by a man he described as his hero, Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who as a young man was one of those assaulted on the bridge as he attempted to march.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We come to Selma to be renewed, we come to be inspired,” Lewis said.

“We were beaten, tear gassed, some of us were left bloody right here on this bridge. Seventeen of us were hospitalized that day. But we never became bitter or hostile.”

– Police racism –

The history of what happened at Selma on “Bloody Sunday” has recently returned to prominence thanks to an Oscar-nominated film starring actor David Oyelowo as civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the president’s address also comes as today’s rights leaders wrestle with scandals over police treatment of black Americans.

A probe by Obama’s Justice Department unearthed deep police racism in Ferguson, Missouri, where a white policeman shot dead an unarmed black teenager on August 9, sparking civil unrest and a national outcry.

Despite what Attorney General Eric Holder called a “searing report” into Ferguson’s police department, which Holder has not ruled out abolishing and replacing altogether.

On the eve of the Selma anniversary, protests broke out in the northern state of Wisconsin after another unarmed black teenager was shot by police, which said he had attacked an officer.

ADVERTISEMENT

The police violence in Selma and the dignified determination of the marchers are widely seen as the factors that made it possible to swing America behind civil rights measures like the Voting Rights Act.

That legislation, which prevents states from limiting access to the ballot through abusive measures, is still challenged regularly, mainly by southern states seeking to make voter registration harder.

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

CNN

CNN’s Erin Burnett schools Rick Santorum for claim Trump was right to fire pollsters with epic video

Published

on

On Monday, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) tried to spin the news that President Donald Trump fired his pollsters after leaks revealed that they showed him losing to former Vice President Joe Biden in key states — and CNN's Erin Burnett smacked him down with Trump's own words.

"The internal polls are probably not so great," said Santorum. "I think he fired them because they leaked, and maybe he feels that they were somehow responsible for that leak. But he is right that you don't worry about early polls. I ran in 20 elections. Maybe with the exception of three or four, I was behind in every early poll at this point in time, and I won a bunch of elections. So the reality is there's a long way to go. And the president sometimes, I know this is going to shock you, overreacts to these things."

Continue Reading

Facebook

Trump has an ‘invulnerable reality distortion field’ — that makes Republicans defend the indefensible: GOP strategist

Published

on

Republicans are put in a difficult position by President Donald Trump's refusal to accept reality, a top GOP strategist explained on MSNBC on Monday.

Anchor Kasie Hunt played a clip of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attempting to defend Trump's public statements that he could accept foreign election interference in hopes of being re-elected in 2020 despite his lousy poll numbers.

GOP strategist Michael Steel offered his analysis of the situation facing Republicans.

"This is the hardest thing for every surrogate of President Trump and every Congressional Republican to deal with," Steel explained. "His position is wrong. His position is indefensible. His position, even when he cleaned it up, wasn’t really right."

Continue Reading
 

Facebook

Ex-DOJ lawyer explains how Trump is engaged in a cover-up — and it has nothing to do with Russia

Published

on

On Monday's edition of MSNBC's "The Beat," former White House attorney and law professor Neal Katyal walked anchor Ari Melber through the egregious ways President Donald Trump has abused executive privilege — and is covering up more than just the Russia scandal.

"Executive privilege is this concept, Ari, that goes all the way back to the founding, the idea that presidents should have some zone of secrecy around them, to have confidential deliberations and decision making," said Katyal. "I've been in two different administrations and I would say particularly President Obama was really careful to make sure that he wouldn't invoke executive privilege unless absolutely necessary. He only invoked it once in eight years, even though many years he had Congress opposed to him in terms of being from the opposite party."

Continue Reading
 
 

Copyright © 2019 Raw Story Media, Inc. PO Box 21050, Washington, D.C. 20009 | Masthead | Privacy Policy | For corrections or concerns, please email [email protected]

I need your help.

Investigating Trump's henchmen is a full time job, and I'm trying to bring in new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have more stories coming you'll love. Join me and help restore the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link

Investigating Trump is a full-time job, and I want to add new team members to do more exclusive reports. We have stories coming you'll love. Join me and go ad-free, while restoring the power of hard-hitting progressive journalism.

TAKE A LOOK
close-link