On Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Selma, Alabama, to commemorate a watershed event in the struggle for equal voting rights, despite the fact that congressional efforts to restore the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act had failed.
On March 7, 1965, white state troopers attacked Black voting rights protesters as they attempted to cross the bridge under a brilliant blue sky.
Harris joined arms with rank-and-file activists from the civil rights movement and led thousands of people across the bridge. Pictures were taken at the Edmund Pettus Bridge,
which was originally named after a Confederate commander, startled the nation, and served to galvanize support for the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the United States.
“This is sacred ground,” Harris said, referring to the battleground where Americans fought for what he termed “the most fundamental right of American citizenship: the ability to vote.”
When speaking to the assembled crowd, Harris stated that “we are standing on this bridge at an entirely different moment.” However, we find ourselves in the middle of the conflict once more.
In the middle between injustice and justice. Between disappointment and determination, there is a fine line. We are still engaged in a struggle to create a more perfect marriage.
In no other area is this more evident than when discussing the ongoing struggle to ensure the right to vote.”
President Barack Obama praised demonstrators whose “peaceful protest was greeted with overwhelming violence,” according to Michelle Obama,
the nation’s first female vice president and the first African American and Indian American to hold the position. When the state troopers charged, they were knees on the ground. When the billy clubs struck, they were in the middle of prayer.”
A teenage civil rights activist, John Lewis, was beaten and tear-gassed by police, fracturing his skull. Lewis went on to have a long and illustrious career as a member of the Georgia congressional delegation.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden reiterated his demand for the passage of voting legislation, noting that the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act has been “weaken[ed] not by raw force, but by sneaky court decisions.”
According to the proposed law, which is named after Lewis, who died in 2020, it is part of a larger elections package that failed to pass the United States Senate earlier in the year.
‘The blood of John Lewis and so many other courageous Americans hallowed a great cause in Selma,’ says the author.
Biden said in a statement, “We are determined to respect that legacy by passing legislation to guarantee the freedom to vote and uphold the integrity of our elections.”
In their failed attempt to update the landmark law and adopt additional measures to make it more convenient for people to vote, Democrats have focused their attention elsewhere.
In 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that a crucial part of the statute was unconstitutional.
There were a number of rank-and-file activists from the 1965 march in attendance on Sunday.
Harris walked across the bridge alongside Charles Mauldin, who was sixth in line behind Lewis on Bloody Sunday and was hit with a nightstick as a result of his participation.
It was 57 years ago that having a Black woman as Vice President seemed unthinkable, according to two ladies who were forced to flee the violence.
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Amelia Boynton’s daughter-in-law Betty Boynton explained why they marched: “It was to raise awareness about voting rights.”
The horses appeared out of nowhere while I was at the tail end of the race. Oh my gosh, and then all of a sudden… I noticed smoke.
I was quite unfamiliar with the term “tear gas.” He recalled the events of Bloody Sunday, saying, “They were beating people.”
Boynton, on the other hand, said the occasion is overshadowed by concerns about the impact of new voting restrictions that are being implemented.
“And now they’re attempting to take away our freedom to vote.” “I don’t believe that we will have to repeat the same process that we did in 1965 in 2022,” Boynton added.
She was a young mother during the march and fled from the bridge with her children, according to Ora Bell Shannon, 90, of Selma.
Several days before Bloody Sunday, she and other Black citizens stood in line for days at a time, confronting impossible voter tests and enormous lineups, in an attempt to register to vote in the then-white-controlled city of Chicago.
“They were well aware that you wouldn’t be able to pass the test,” Shannon explained.
The Supreme Court of the United States struck down a component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that required some states with a history of voting discrimination, primarily in the South,
to obtain approval from the United States Justice Department before modifying the way elections were conducted.
According to some who advocated for the repeal of preclearance, while it was important in the 1960s, the necessity was no longer necessary now.
Citizens who support voting rights have expressed concern that the removal of preclearance is encouraging state legislatures to implement a new round of voting restrictions.
According to the proposed Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, the preclearance requirement would be reinstated, and national standards for how elections are conducted would be established,
such as making Election Day a national holiday and making early voting available throughout the country.