The 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday is upon us, but one would never have imagined how little America has changed in America in the 50 year span between March 7, 1965 and today.
The relationship between Blacks and Whites, on many core levels, have largely remained unchanged, and legislative changes that those dark days wrought have slowly begun to erode away with the Supreme Court decision in 2013 being the most easily recognizable as well. All these years later, the symbolism involved in again walking the span of a bridge named after a Confederate general is more immediately polarizing today as it ever has been.
On Saturday, President Barack Obama will be joined by scores of dignitaries, activists, politicians and Americans who are sensitive to everything it entails. The lives lost to assassins bullets and time are as restless as ever as the injustices they faced are still rule the land. In addition to the usurping of the Voting Rights act itself, the very spirit of the Civil Rights Movement has been re-energized by the murder of Trayvon Martin, the death of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, John Crawford and at least a dozen other deaths that have been committed against unarmed Black men. With the release of the Department of Justice report on the Ferguson Police Department comes irrefutable, highly-credible evidence of systematic profiteering in the misery of Black people. An outrageous travesty to be certain. On Friday, President Barack Obama gave his opinion of this institutionalized insidiousness on “The Joe Madison Show.” It’s the first time he has spoken out on the incident since the Ferguson Report was released.
In a shameful reflection of modern times, 26-years old Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed in nearby Marion on Feb. 18. Many believe his death inspired calls for a march from Selma to Montgomery to deliver the voting rights message directly to the Alabama governor George C. Wallace.
“I don’t think that is typical of what happens across the country, but it’s not an isolated incident,” Obama said Friday on “The Joe Madison Radio Show,” according to the Associated Press. “I think there are circumstances in which trust between communities and law enforcement have broken down, and individuals or entire departments may not have the training or the accountability to make sure that they’re protecting and serving all people and not just some.”
As laid out in The Shadow League article Institutionalized Racism Revealed in Ferguson Report, the 103-page, months-long investigation a police department that exhibited utter disdain and institutionalized hatred by way of racial slurs, excessive use of force, random search and seizures, and malicious citations that created an state-sponsored environment of tormenting to Black residents in Ferguson and, likely other parts of the country as well.
The President compared the findings in Ferguson to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60's, and rightfully so.
He also said the problem “requires collective action and mobilization.”
The great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr failed to cross the Edmund Pettis Bridge twice before successfully doing so. The first attempt was made on Sunday, March 7 when MLK was absent, his followers brutalized by Alabama state troopers. His followers under great physical and mental duress, King and company eventually were led across the bridge on Sunday, March 21, 1965. The voting rights victory has been declawed as several states have already begun to make moves to make it more difficult for minorities to vote via more stringent voter ID laws, and other measures. With a documented contemporary example of subversive, malicious, hateful behavior perpetrated by law enforcement against people of African descent in America, many are marching on Selma to commemorate and celebrate the efforts of those who paved a way.
For others, the time will certainly be used to reflect upon the struggles yet to come.