On the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the so-called "Bloody Sunday", the violent suppression of marches for African American suffrage, US President Joe Biden warned against hatred and extremism in the United States. Biden (center) is pictured walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where a group of civil rights protesters were beaten by police on March 7, 1965.
Selma (USA) – On the occasion of the 58th anniversary of the so-called “Bloody Sunday”, the violent suppression of African American suffrage marches, US President Joe Biden warned against hatred and extremism in the United States. According to him, the foundations of democracy, such as the right to vote and the value of the electoral vote, may be threatened, the American media write.
Biden joined thousands of people at a memorial service in Selma, Alabama. “The right to vote, to have your vote counted, is the cornerstone of democracy and freedom,” the president said near the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where a group of civil rights protesters were beaten by police on March 7, 1965. “This fundamental right is at risk. The conservative Supreme Court has been curtailing the right to vote for years. Since the 2020 election, American states have passed dozens of laws based on a big lie,” the president said, referring to claims by his predecessor in office, Republican Donald Trump, who refused to concede defeat after losing to Biden.
Biden also vowed to continue his efforts to get Congress to pass suffrage bills, one of which was named after John Lewis, a former congressman for Georgia, a human rights activist and leader of the historic Selma to Montgomery march 58 years ago. A key part of the John Lewis Act is the requirement for certain local governments to seek federal approval before changing their election rules.
Although at least black men had the de jure right to vote since 1870, access to elections was systematically prevented in individual states by, for example, taxes, literacy tests, or intimidation. Evidence of discrimination that still persisted at the time was also the violent suppression of a march of about 600 mostly black activists from Selma to Montgomery, against whom the police used batons and tear gas.
At the head of two other marches, in which several thousand people already participated stood Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King. During the second march, the white Reverend James Reeb was attacked for supporting racist activists, who succumbed to a head injury two days later. This outraged public opinion all over the United States even more, and the Czechoslovak communist press also reported on the events at the time.
The struggle for greater equal rights for African Americans, which however has its roots in the post-World War II period, eventually won when Congress passed a law prohibiting racial discrimination in elections.