Today marks the 50th anniversary of the second of three "Selma to Montgomery" marches held in 1965 to bring attention to the desire of African Americans to exercise their voting rights in Alabama.The first march ("Bloody Sunday") met violent resistance from law enforcement officers; march organizer Amelia Boynton was beaten unconscious. Martin Luther King Jr. led the second march, but turned back while awaiting a federal protection order. Unitarian Universalist minister James Reeb was beaten to death that evening by a group of while Alabamans. The third march left Selma on March 21 and arrived in Montgomery on March 24. By then, 25,000 people had joined the march and President Lyndon Johnson had asked for the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Saturday, on the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," President Obama spoke to a crowd at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, saying America's racial history "still casts its long shadow upon us." He said "Selma is not just about commemorating the past." He acknowledged the progress that has been made, and said, "Selma is about each of us asking ourselves what we can do to make America better."
In this time of renewed focus on racial discrimination in the United States, let us pray for the courage and moral fortitude to stand for justice and to hold conversations about race that take seriously the experience of those who are marginalized in our society and that lead to healing. Let us strive to make America better instead of letting the wounds of discrimination go untreated.
See photos of Selma then and now at www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/photos-selma-alabama-now.