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Thousands cross Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Bridge Crossing Reenactment

Updated: Mar. 1, 2020 at 6:02 PM CST
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SELMA, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s the last day of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee weekend in Selma.

This weekend marks the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” which refers to March 7, 1965, when marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge were stopped and beaten by state troopers and local police. More than fifty protesters were hospitalized. The beatings sparked national outrage and lead to the Selma-to-Montgomery March and passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Sunday began with the annual Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast at Wallace Community College. Several guests were honored during the ceremony, including Martin Luther King III, his wife Andrea, and their 11-year-old daughter Yolanda. They received the first-ever Martin and Coretta King Family Unity Award. The award is given to every member of a family that is engaged in the struggle to lift and unify others.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Stacey Abrams, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Democratic nominee in the 2018 election for Georgia’s governor, also received awards at the breakfast.

The Bridge Crossing Reenactment & Backward March was held Sunday afternoon, with marchers starting from Brown Chapel to cross over Edmund Pettus Bridge. Some of the foot-soldiers who survived Bloody Sunday returned to the bridge for the commemoration, including Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who is battling cancer.

“We cannot give up now. We cannot give in. We must keep the faith,” Lewis said.

Several thousand people participated in the bridge crossing, with presidential candidates and other notable figures leading the march. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg, both candidates for the Democratic presidential nominee, walked the bridge, along with Rep. Terry Sewell, Jesse Jackson, Mongomery Mayor Steven Reed and Reverend William Barber.

“It’s kind of eerie because while we are here to remember what people have done, we also have to face what people are trying to undo,” said Barber. “All the attacks on the voting rights that have gone on since the Shelby decision to roll back the Voting Rights Act, and then the way that so many candidates through racist voter suppression get into office and then once they get in they stand against living wages, they stand against things that would help the poor, and then there are the nearly 3,000,000 poor people in Alabama alone.”

The march comes just two days before Super Tuesday, when Alabama residents will have a chance to vote for many of the candidates in attendance. Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar campaigned at Selma’s first-ever presidential forum at the Wallace Community College, moderated by Joy Reid of MSNBC’s “AM Joy” and the Rev. Mark Thompson of “Make it Plain with Mark Thompson.”

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Vice President Joe Biden were also in Selma Sunday, but they did not attend the forum. Tom Steyer, who dropped out of the presidential race Saturday, also attended events in Selma.

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