"239 years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect. But we are getting closer." -President Barack Obama on Civil Rights

This weekend marked the 50th anniversary of the 1965 civil rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  The march, led by civil rights activists, began as a peaceful protest against segregation for equal voting rights.  Sadly, it ended in violence.  More than 600 unarmed protesters were attacked with tear gas, beaten, and wounded by Alabama state troopers on the bridge as they headed toward Montgomery.  

The events of that Bloody Sunday resulted in national outrage.  Protesters and civil rights advocates protested further, this time for protection to finish the march peacefully.  President Lyndon Johnson listened to the people and commanded 2000 U.S. Army soldiers, 1900 members of the Alabama National Guard, FBI agents, and Federal Marshals to standby while 25,000 civil rights supporters and activists marched across the bridge and all the way to Montgomery.

The march successfully got enough people to pay attention. As a result, the Voting Rights Act was passed that same year.  The act outlawed voting discrimination and opened the polls to African American citizens and others who had been denied voting rights due to the color of their skin. 

But in 2013, a Supreme Court Ruling weakened the Voting Rights Act.  And in 2014, race riots swept the nation in response to Michael Brown's murder.  These events show that racial issues still exist 50 years later. 

President Obama, who joined thousands of people on the Edmund Pettus Bridge this weekend, addressed the issue in one of the strongest speeches of his presidency.  While commemorating the bravery of those who demonstrated half a century ago, he said:

“Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished. But we are getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect. But we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road’s too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example…We honor those who walked so we could run. We must run so our children soar. And we will not grow weary. For we believe in the power of an awesome God, and we believe in this country’s sacred promise.

In honor civil rights and of those who marched in Selma, we will be addressing the issue of race in an upcoming episode. In the mean time, check out our video below: After Ferguson: The Truth Behind Justifiable Homicides

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