SELMA – Even though the heavens opened up and the rain came pouring down on Sunday, it did not stop the march commemorating the 54th anniversary of 1965’s “Bloody Sunday” across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and a handful of 2020 Democratic Party presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), highlighted the names of participants on Sunday.
Throughout the day’s events, which began with the Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast, continued with remarks from Clinton, Booker and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) at the Brown Chapel AME Church and concluded with the march across the historic bridge, putting a stop to alleged voter suppression was a reoccurring theme of the day.
“We’re here to honor the legacy of those that fought, died and bled for the right for us to vote, and we must do our part in 2019,” Sewell declared during the Unity Breakfast.
“[T]here is no more fundamental right than the right to vote,” Clinton said to marchers before they began their journey over the Alabama River. “It is under attack. It is under fire. It has got to be protected. No matter what else you care about, there is nothing more important than standing up and fighting for the right to vote right now.”
Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX) echoed Clinton’s remarks emphasizing the need to combat so-called voter suppression.
“Voting rights are under fire,” Jackson Lee said. “That’s why I’ve come to march with you across the Edmund Pettus Bridge … where many shed their blood. And as Rev. [William J.] Barber said, we are those who have ancestors who have dictated to us what we must do. We must fight and never give up. We must recognize voter suppression is not American. Voter suppression is not who we are. Voter suppression cannot stand, and we will continue to fight until we stamp out voter suppression.”
The voter suppression theme was also on display as marchers sang about the “polling house” as they marched.
Earlier, Booker had delivered the keynote speech to Brown Chapel AME Church, and made a call to the parishioners to “defend the dream.”
“People feel the forces tearing us apart are greater than those bringing us together,” the New Jersey Democrat said during his emotional address. “It’s time for us to defend the dream. It’s time that we dare to dream again in America.”
Sherrod Brown was making a return to Alabama for the annual occasion.
“It’s great to be here,” Brown said to Yellowhammer News. “It’s the fifth time I’ve crossed this bridge, fifth time I’ve been in Brown Chapel, and it’s an honor to be here. I’ve brought my daughters, I’ve brought my wife, and I’ve brought my mother a number of times over the years. It’s part of our family.”
Also in attendance for Booker’s speech at the Brown Chapel AME Church was former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.