OBAMA’S TRIP TO SELMA: President Barack Obama is going to Selma to commemorate Bloody Sunday, the turning point of the civil rights movement. Deep into his second term he has decided to embrace all things black. At least, that’s how some people view his so-called evolution. He frustrated black leaders during his first term as taking a hands-off approach to going to bat for Black America and embracing his place in history as the first black president. This comes as Republican leaders, except House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, will skip a trip to Selma, so much for that minority outreach RNC chairman Reince Priebus talked about. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Steve Scalise (who spoke at an event hosted by ex-KKK grand dragon David Duke), just couldn’t squeeze Selma into their “busy” schedules. They have bungled a great opportunity to show the black community they care.
President Obama and his family will join hundreds, if not thousands, leading a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. His speech will be a historic one and I suspect he has spent a lot of time writing it. America has come a long way from the scourge of slavery and Jim Crow, a time when lynchings were the norm and blacks were denied the right to vote. This will be an awe-inspiring moment to see President Obama address the crowd at the spot where civil rights fighters like Rep. John Lewis was among 600 people beaten and gassed by police. All they wanted was the right to vote and be treated equally.
White House adviser Valerie Jarrett sums up the essence of President Obama’s presence in Selma this weekend during an interview with Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Part of the lesson in Selma is just: The responsibility of ensuring that African-Americans voted wasn’t solely a responsibility shouldered by the African-American community.” The trip to Selma “gives the president the opportunity to challenge us to recognize that we all have a responsibility to follow in their footsteps and do more. Just as 50 years ago, people were beaten and hosed down and murdered so that we would all have the right to vote — that means we should all vote. We can’t just rest on our laurels.”
It’s a sad commentary that the bridge, so integral to the civil rights movement is named after a leader of the Ku Klux Klan. Edmund Winston Pettus was a grand dragon of the Alabama KKK in 1877, that’s according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama. Pettus was a Confederate general and a U.S. senator who lived in Selma after the Civil War. Some have expressed doubts that Pettus was a member of the KKK, but his views on race says it all. History deserves better. In fact, he believed that “whites, not blacks, were the victims in the post-Civil War South,” NPR reports. It’s time to rename the Edmund Pettus Bridge.