Here’s Why I’m Sad About Missing Today’s Events This Sunday in Selma

Disappointed I couldn’t participate in the re-enactment of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. While I’ve been to Selma to see the bridge, I’ve never participated in the Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which has special meaning this year because of the case before the U.S. Supreme Court that asks that parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 be vacated.

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bridgecrossingjubilee
This is the button I want. Maybe it will happen in March of 2014.

It’s call the Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

The annual commemoration of what became known as “Bloody Sunday” is taking place at this hour in a place not that far from here in Tuscaloosa.

But, as I prepare for a very busy travel week, I had to pass on today’s event.

So, why is it important?

On “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, some 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Route 80.   They got only as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, where state and local lawmen attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back into Selma.

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This is the Edmund Pettus Bridge where it all happened.

In a mid-day news report, the Rev. Jesse Jackson made the best argument:

According to the Associated Press, Jackson said today the South will see more gerrymandering and more at-large elections if the Supreme Court throws out a requirement for the Justice Department to review election law changes in states with a history of discrimination.

Bloody Sunday got the nation’s attention and set the tone for the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which is believed to be the most effective and successful civil rights legislation in American history.

As NPR and other media reported last week, the Voting Rights Act was upheld five times by the court.

However, as Section 5 is challenged by those here in Alabama  the law now appears to be on life support.

The 2014 commemoration of Bloody Sunday could be very different, if the high court decides to vacate part of the landmark law.

Author: George Daniels

George L. Daniels is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Alabama. After spending eight years in the local television newsroom working as a producer at stations in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia, Daniels moved from the newsroom to the classroom. He’s conducted research on diversity issues in the media workplace and change in the television newsroom as well as media convergence. Before going to work in television news, Daniels worked briefly as a freelance writer for The Richmond Free Press in his hometown of Richmond, Va.

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