Kamala Harris, Bloody Sunday March

Kamala Harris Leads 59th Annual Bloody Sunday March Across Edmund Pettus Bridge

Harris led a diverse crowd of supporters across the bridge.

The very first Black woman vice president of the U.S. led the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge ahead of the 59th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attacks

Harris, along with her husband, Doug Emhoff, gathered at the same place where leaders such as the late Sen. John Lewis and Dr. Martin Luther King were brutally beaten by racist law enforcement officers and people of Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965, as they walked in support of voting rights.

Followed by hundreds of supporters, arms linked with civil rights leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Crump, the VP paid respect to those who lost their lives that day and touched on their bravery, knowing the violent consequences waiting for them.

“Today, we know our fight for freedom is not over because, at this moment, we are witnessing a full-on attack on hard-fought, hard-won freedoms, starting with the freedom that unlocks all others, the freedom to vote,” Harris said.

Ahead of the primary elections on March 5, Harris criticized numerous attempts to restrict voting rights, including limiting absentee and early voting. During her speech, Harris said the nation is at another crossroads. “What kind of country do we want to live in? Do we want to live in a country of freedom, liberty, and justice,” she questioned. “Or a country of injustice, hate, and fear?” 

Several decisions handed down by the Supreme Court and lower courts have put the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson to secure the right to vote for Black Americans, under attack. Harris mentioned the parameters built between people who survived the civil rights movement and “extremists” who she said are working to restrict the American people on core issues like gun violence, voting, and reproductive care.

“Fundamental freedoms, under assault. The freedom to vote, the freedom from fear, violence, and harm. The freedom to learn, the freedom to control one’s own body, and the freedom to just simply be,” she said. 

This was Harris’ second time attending the annual march. While notable dignitaries, including President Joe Biden, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, have attended in the past, this year’s prominent attendees included U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), a Selma native. Bloody Sunday survivor Eugene Smith also attended, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

Attending with his niece, this was Smith’s first time back in Selma since he crossed the bridge 59 years ago. “Even today, just remembering what took place, there’s nothing over there,” he said. “It was just to keep us back.”

And lawmakers are pushing forward to ensure his sacrifice doesn’t go in vain. Ahead of the legislation’s anniversary approaching in August, Senate Democrats have re-introduced the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act after stalling since 2021.

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