SELMA, Ala. (AP) — Several members of Congress joined civil rights activists and others Sunday afternoon for the annual commemoration of a day of racial violence in Selma dating to 1965.
A bipartisan group including Rep. John Lewis of Georgia led the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It was to recall “Bloody Sunday,” when voting rights protesters were attacked by police as they attempted to cross the bridge.
“It’s very meaningful to come back here, to come back to this historic site and be here with so many wonderful people. It’s a beautiful day here today in Selma,” Lewis said as he was surrounded by his peers, the Selma Times-Journal reported.
Lewis, then a young organizer, was among those injured then. That violence set the stage for the Selma-to-Montgomery march, which helped build support for congressional approval of the Voting Rights Act months later.
Sen. Kamala Harris from California, who spoke at the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast, said she felt a mixture of emotions walking across the bridge.
“It’s bittersweet,” Harris said. “It’s sadness and pain at the thought of what they endured 53 years ago, but it’s also inspiration about again fighting for the best of who we are and honoring those who have been heroes and are still heroes.”
The annual celebration drew tens of thousands of people in 2015, when then-President Barack Obama spoke near the base of the bridge as former President George W. Bush listened.