— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) March 8, 2015
From the Washington Post, “‘The march is not yet over,’ Obama tells crowd at foot of Selma bridge“:
… Obama was introduced by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), whose skull was fractured by Alabama state troopers on the bridge, and joined by Peggy Wallace Kennedy, the daughter of George C. Wallace, the Alabama governor who ordered the attacks on the demonstrators. The president described the courage of protestors to press for change and endure savage beatings as a love of country and kind of patriotism that was quintessentially American.
“What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people — the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many — coming together to shape their country’s course?” Obama said. “What greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?”
About 40,000 spectators filled a five-block area hemmed in by dilapidated buildings to hear the speech. Although the crowd was predominantly African American, it included every shade of American…
But the nation’s first African American president also called for criminal-justice reform and made a point of reminding white Americans that “this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, we know the race is not yet won, we know that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character — requires admitting as much, facing up to the truth.”
Obama dedicated a substantial portion of his address to the recent battles over efforts to tighten voter registration rules and scale back some aspects of the Voting Rights Act, which a chastened and outraged President Lyndon B. Johnson submitted to Congress only a week after the Bloody Sunday attacks. “Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote,” Obama said. “The Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor. How can that be?”…
It can be, as quoted in McClatchyDC:
… Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., an honorary co-chairman of the Selma trip and the only African-American Republican in the Senate, said voting rights and the commemoration of Selma should be “de-coupled.”
“The issue of voting rights legislation and the issue of Selma, we ought to have an experience that brings people together and not make it into a political conversation,” Scott said.
But Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a co-sponsor of a bill last year to repair the Voting Rights Act, said he intends to honor the past and conduct business as he’s walking across Selma’s famous bridge this weekend…
Members of the Academy tuning in to Obama's speech won't say if it's good until they ensure it is historically accurate.
— Philip Bump (@pbump) March 7, 2015