Speed Reads

Biden in Selma

Biden commemorates Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama

President Biden visited Selma, Alabama, on Sunday to mark the 58th anniversary of a violent attack against civil rights activists attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. 

The president delivered a speech on voting rights and the ongoing effort by Democrats to protect access to the ballot box. "As I come here in commemoration, not for show, Selma is a reckoning," Biden said, per The Washington PostHe added that "the right to vote, to have your vote counted — is the threshold of democracy and liberty. With it, anything's possible. Without it, without that right, nothing is possible."

Following his speech, Biden walked across the bridge with numerous Black leaders and lawmakers. 

The anniversary marks one of the most defining moments of the 1960s, when protesters attempted to march across the bridge in an attempt to shine a light on efforts in Alabama to restrict Black voting. They were met with a violent response by Alabama state troopers, who beat them with clubs, chased them on horseback, and deployed tear gas in an attempt to drive them from the bridge. 

The day, which has become immortalized as "Bloody Sunday," was called a "seminal moment in the civil rights movement" by The Associated Press. The images of peaceful protesters being beaten caused outrage among Americans, and helped spur the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 just five months later. 

The courage of the protesters "inspired many to join the fight for civil rights," Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement. "If we are to truly honor the legacy of those who marched in Selma on Bloody Sunday, we must continue to fight to secure and safeguard the freedom to vote."