March 7 marks the 50-year anniversary of what is commonly referred to as “Bloody Sunday.” A group of peaceful, civil rights activists made the 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to advocate for equal voting rights. They were beaten, gassed, and some were killed in conjunction with the march that ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Saturday, President Obama signed legislation to recognize those who marched with the nation’s highest honor—Congressional Gold Medals.
“What a glorious task we have been given,” President Obama said during a speech commemorating the event. “To continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer. Two hundred and thirty nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer.”
Former President George W. Bush, former first lady Laura Bush, Rep. John Lewis, (D-Ga.), and an additional 100 members of Congress stood under at the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the violence took place 50 years ago.
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