We continue our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the historic voting rights campaign in Selma, Alabama. On this day in 1965 — the second Tuesday of March — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a second attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery. Two days earlier on Bloody Sunday, Alabama state troopers beat peaceful marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On what became known as Turnaround Tuesday, 2,000 protesters marched over the bridge. On the other side they were greeted by a line of flashing lights and police cars and helmeted troopers carrying shotguns. King told the crowd: "Folks, we’re going to have to stop. And we have been assured that we can kneel for a moment of prayer." After a short prayer, the marchers turned around. The third — and final — march from Selma to Montgomery would begin less than two weeks later on March 21. This past Sunday, King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III, spoke at the historic Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma where King often spoke.
Just outside the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, Amy Goodman had a chance to speak with the civil rights pioneer C. T. Vivian, a close friend and adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty years ago, Vivian was punched in the face by Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark on the courthouse steps in Selma as he tried to escort a group of African Americans inside to register to vote. The punch was so hard, Clark broke his own hand. Vivian speaks about the power of nonviolence and the continued fight for voting rights.
As we continue our coverage of the 50th anniversary of the historic Selma to Montgomery marches, we look at the civil rights martyrs who lost their lives in the fight to secure voting rights in Alabama. Between February and August of 1964, four civil rights activists were killed in Alabama: Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo, Rev. James Reeb and Jonathan Daniels. As tens of thousands of people marked the 50th anniversary in Selma, Democracy Now! spoke to marchers who were honoring these civil rights martyrs.
Up to 80,000 marched in Selma, Alabama, on Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. On March 7, 1965, hundreds of peaceful voting rights activists were brutally attacked by Alabama state troopers, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery in a voting rights protest. Bloody Sunday was the first of three attempted marches, finally completed under federal protection and led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on March 24. The protests helped bring about the 1965 Voting Rights Act. We spoke to marchers on Sunday as they crossed the bridge.
Over the weekend, more than 100 members of Congress traveled to Selma for the commemoration marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches for voting rights. Amy Goodman had a chance to speak with Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who supports the 2013 Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act. We get reaction to Sessions’ remarks from Ari Berman, who reports on voting rights policy for The Nation. He traveled to Selma this weekend with the congressional delegation. His latest article is "Fifty Years After Bloody Sunday in Selma, Everything and Nothing Has Changed." His forthcoming book, "Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America," will be out in August on the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We end today’s show looking at another fight for civil rights in Alabama: marriage equality. On Monday, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange asked a federal judge to keep legalizing same-sex marriage in the state on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court rules later this year. Last month, Alabama became the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage, but the Alabama Supreme Court directed probate judges to stop giving licenses to same-sex couples. In Selma on Sunday, Amy Goodman spoke to Tori and Shanté Wolfe-Sisson, the first same-sex couple to marry in Montgomery, Alabama.
Full episodes of Democracy Now! can be viewed at the link: https://www.freespeech.org/collection/democracy-now.
Sign up for Our Newsletter
Get updates about the policies and topics that matter the most to you. Progressive news directly to your email.