Obama Praises Selma 'Heroes' 50 years after march

24x7BreakingNEWS 09 Mar 2015, 11:22 am Print

US President Barack Obama has marked the 50th anniversary of the Selma civil rights march in Alabama by paying tribute to the "heroes" who took part. He delivered a speech commemorating "Bloody Sunday" on 7 March 1965, when security forces attacked black demonstrators in the city. Mr Obama said the marchers, who were campaigning for equal voting rights, had "given courage to millions". His wife Michelle and about 100 members of Congress also attended the event. "Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every American," he said, standing in front of the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the violence took place. A crowd of some 40,000 people watched as Mr Obama and his family led a symbolic walk across part of the bridge, accompanied by those who had made the march in 1965. Police beat and used tear gas on demonstrators as they made their way over the crossing, on a day that became known as "Bloody Sunday". That event, and a follow-up march from Selma to Montgomery two weeks later, helped build momentum for approval of the Voting Rights Act by Congress later that year. The legislation, pushed by President Lyndon Johnson, removed all barriers preventing African-Americans from registering as voters. 'Sweat and tears' Mr Obama reminded the American public that despite progress the fight against racism was not over. He addressed the recent police killings of unarmed black men and teenagers, which had triggered protests in several US cities. "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. Selma anniversary: Barack Obama pays tribute to protesters beaten by police 50 years ago US President Barack Obama marks 50th anniversary of civil rights marches at Selma Obama: US Racial History 'Casts Long Shadow' Obama pays rousing tribute to Selma marchers, 50 years on Speaking in Selma, Obama says U.S. racial history still casts 'long shadow'