President Obama and his wife and daughters traveled to Selma, Alabama, today in a show of respect for, and solidarity with, America's long-struggling civil rights movement. It was fifty years ago today that Alabama state troopers brought the wrath of their God to bear on marchers and protesters, primarily black citizens, in Selma, Alabama. The police used billy clubs, tear gas, bullets, and brute force to impose their version of "justice" on the demonstrators as they sought to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge and march from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights. The event became known as Selma's "Bloody Sunday," and it proved to be a key motivator in Congress passing, and President Johnson signing, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 later that year.
Today President Obama, our nation's first black leader, will be giving a speech in Selma, sharing the country's respect for those courageous individuals who stared down armed police troops in order to enfranchise all Americans with the actual right to vote. After the speech, the Obamas will lead marchers across the same bridge that the protesters on Bloody Sunday fought so hard to cross.
Sadly, the Republican leadership in Congress will not be present. Although more that a hundred members of Congress will be on hand for this truly historic occasion, the GOP leadership will all be busy elsewhere - perhaps hunkered down in their Capitol offices working on legislation to gut Obamacare, enshrine bigotry into federal law, protect fetuses while forcing children to live in abject poverty, or keep people from voting. The advocates of civil rights do not appear to be a significant part of the Republican constituency.
One prominent Republican, however, is going to Selma. Former President George W. Bush will be among the dignitaries at the ceremony honoring the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Good for you, George. The outrages that took place fifty years ago in Selma should be remembered by all Americans, and we should all still be learning from the bloody images of those brutal and awful times.
And President Obama, you sir, and your family, are an inspiration to us all. Keep standing tall, Barack.