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5 Quotes From President Obama Reflecting on Selma and the Voting Rights Act of 1965

By    |   Thursday, 28 Jan 2016 05:19 PM

It would take 43 more years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for the nation to elect its first African-American president. However, the seeds for this landmark event were sown then, mere months following what was known as “Bloody Sunday,” in which peaceful protesters were attacked by state troopers in Selma, Alabama.

This series of events prompted congress to draw up the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law five days after the bill was introduced.

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"Along with the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act was one of the most expansive pieces of civil rights legislation in American history," says History.com.

Here are five quotes from President Barack Obama regarding not only the Voting Rights Act, but also the events that inspired its creation:

1. “The Americans who crossed this bridge (Edmund Pettus Bridge) were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. “They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, and countless daily indignities — but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.”

2. “Young people behind the Iron Curtain would see Selma and eventually tear down a wall. Young people in Soweto would hear Bobby Kennedy talk about ripples of hope and eventually banish the scourge of apartheid. ... From the streets of Tunis to the Maidan in Ukraine, this generation of young people can draw strength from this place, where the powerless could change the world’s greatest superpower, and push their leaders to expand the boundaries of freedom.”

3. “Fifty years from 'Bloody Sunday,' our march is not yet finished. But we are getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding, our union is not yet perfect. But we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge.”

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4. “In time, their chorus would well up and reach President Johnson. And he would send them protection, and speak to the nation, echoing their call for America and the world to hear: ‘We shall overcome.’ What enormous faith these men and women had. Faith in God, but also faith in America.”

5. “Because of campaigns like this, a Voting Rights Act was passed. Political and economic and social barriers came down. And the change these men and women wrought is visible here today in the presence of African Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus all the way to the Oval Office.”

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It would take 43 years after the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for the nation to elect its first African-American president. But the seeds for this landmark event were sown then, mere months after "Bloody Sunday," in which peaceful protesters were attacked by state troopers in Selma, Alabama.
voting rights, obama, quotes, selma, voting rights act
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2016-19-28
Thursday, 28 Jan 2016 05:19 PM
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