Thousands flocked and paraded in Selma, Alabama on Sunday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” considered a game-changer in the U.S. Civil rights movement, Reuters reported.
The enthusiastic crowd did not wait for dignitaries who were supposed to lead them and started walking across the bridge. Later on, the dignitaries were brought in front.
President Obama, the first black president to serve the United States, called the U.S. Civil rights movement an unfinished agenda in the face of continuing racial tension in the country.
“Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer,” Obama said.
On March 7, 1965, white police troops carrying batons and tear gas assaulted roughly 600 peaceful civil rights activists.
While the original march served as a backdrop of serious issues related to equal rights for the African American community, Sunday’s march was more a festive celebration among the participants. The estimated 7,000 demonstrators cheered, sang “We Shall Overcome” and carried signs during the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“It’s very crowded, but at the same time it’s fun and really great to see everybody coming together all races, all people,” an activist said as marchers started to move across the bridge.
The march was particularly significant in the setting of a renewed racial tension and anger over mistreatment of the black community, including 18-year-old Michael Brown, shot by a white police officer last year in Ferguson, Missouri.
Moreover, the unarmed Tony T. Robinson Jr., a 19-year-old black man shot by another white police officer on Friday in Madison, Wisconsin, invigorated nationwide protests on Sunday.
A Georgia Democrat stated, “When I go back, I remember the bridge for me is almost a sacred place,” adding, “That’s where some of us gave a little blood and where some people almost died.”