Biden calls for stronger voting rights in Selma

by Emily Mosier

SELMA, AL — President Joe Biden joined thousands of people in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate Bloody Sunday, a historic moment in civil rights history. Biden used the opportunity to call for a strengthening of U.S. voting rights. 

“The right to vote and to have your vote counted is the threshold of democracy and liberty,” Biden said in his speech at the foot of Edmund Pettus Bridge. “With it, anything is possible.  Without it, without that right, nothing is possible.

 “And this fundamental right remains under assault.”

Fifty-eight years ago, on the original Bloody Sunday, peaceful protesters and civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Congressman John Lewis, faced violence from Alabama State Troopers while marching across a bridge named after a KKK Grand Dragon.

Now, people from all over the country come to march. They chant, sing and rally. 

The political signs held by the marchers and the slogans on their T-shirts carried messages of voter equality, the same sentiment as the original marchers. 

“Racism has never gone away, it’s just changed,” said Selma native Marissa Moore.

“The times we have today – it feels like people are trying to erase certain things,” said Russell Jordan, who served in the U.S. Navy for twenty years. This is Jordan’s fourth bridge crossing. “Voting rights everywhere is in danger.

 “I try all the time to talk to young people and tell them how important it is to vote and vote in local elections, not just wait for the president to come. We’re losing local power.”

In his speech, Biden spoke about a congressional map in Alabama that he said was not drawn in a way that fairly represented a predominately Black district. 

“My U.S. Department of Justice has joined many of you in arguing that the map violates the Voting Rights Act,” Biden said, referring to the 1956 bill that was fought for on Bloody Sunday.

Biden then urged congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The legislation would include giving the U.S. Justice Department power over local voting districts.

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