Biden Advocates Voting Rights on Selma Pilgrimage

'The threshold of democracy' is at stake, president says in address marking 'Bloody Sunday'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2023 5:00 PM CST
In Selma, Biden Urges Protecting Voting Rights
President Biden walks across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, with a group including Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Marking the 58th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," when Alabama state troopers clubbed and tear-gassed peaceful marchers opposing discrimination, President Biden returned to advocate new voting rights legislation. The violence that day at the Edmund Pettus Bridge outraged many Americans and helped lead to passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. On Sunday, Biden called for congressional approval of bills that would make Election Day a holiday, increase registration of new voters, and bolster federal oversight of local elections where there's a history of voter discrimination, Reuters reports. One of the measures is named for the late Rep. John Lewis, who was among the protesters beaten on March 7, 1965.

"Selma is a reckoning. The right to vote and to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty," Biden said in front of the bridge. "With it, anything's possible. Without it, without that right, nothing is possible. And this fundamental right remains under assault." He cited Supreme Court rulings, actions by certain state legislatures, and the refusals to accept election results as threats, per the Washington Post. Congressional Republicans are opposed to the legislation. After his speech, Biden joined a group of Black leaders, lawmakers, and others in a walk across the Edmund Pettis Bridge.

In other coverage:

  • USA Today revisits the horror of Bloody Sunday and discusses the presidential pilgrimages to Selma.
  • The AP reports that a woman who brought her grandchildren to the Selma commemoration said, "I want them to know what happened here."
  • tracks the progress of the two measures Biden supports here and here.
(More President Biden stories.)

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