Members of the Save OurSelves Movement for Justice and Democracy (SOS) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) will hold a rally on the steps of Alabama’s Capitol Building today at 1 p.m. to discuss voting rights and other issues after nearly a week of commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery marches of 1965.
The public is asked to join a group of activists, who since March 9 have been walking from Selma to Montgomery in a re-enactment of the historic march, at 11:00 a.m. at the parking lot of Calhoun Foods near Carver High School and St. Jude Hospital. The group will then walk the final leg of walk to stand with the groups from various organizations on the steps of the Capitol.
“As a co-chair of SOS, I am pleased to have our organization join SCLC and other organizations to re-enact the Selma-to-Montgomery March,” says Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford. “When we rally on the steps of the State Capitol, we will be standing where Dr. King stood 50 years ago. We will also be moving forward, fighting the good fight for voting rights, health care and other rights.”
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) President Charles Steele; SCLC Board Chairman Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette; Alabama Reps. Alvin Holmes, John Knight and Thad McClammy; Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford; Alabama Sen. Hank Sanders and other leaders held a news conference to announce the event.
Rep. Thad McClammy (D-Montgomery) says, “When we rally on the steps of the Alabama Capitol, we will be re-enacting history. However, we will also be fighting for the present and the future for voting rights are still not secure after more than 50 years of struggle. This re-enactment is also a re-commitment to full voting rights.”
SCLC Board Chair Rev. Dr. Bernard Lafayette said, “I came to Selma in 1963 to help organize the struggle for voting rights. I did not think that more than 50 years later I would still be marching and fighting for voting rights. But as Chairman of the Board of SCLC, I am glad to be able to still fight and I am glad that SCLC is still leading that fight because the nonviolence that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced is still needed today as much as ever.”
“It was SCLC in 1965 that was the sole sponsor of the Selma-to-Montgomery March,” SCLC President Charles Steele said. “SCLC is still going strong 50 years later, and SCLC is still needed because after 50 years much work remains to be done, especially on voting rights. That’s why SCLC is leading this March along with other organizations.”
“We had a great 50th Commemoration in Selma last weekend, and there was a real focus on voting rights. After Bloody Sunday 50 years ago, the Selma-to-Montgomery March was still necessary to help secure passage of the Voting Rights Act,” said Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery). “Now after the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma-to-Montgomery March, it is still necessary for us to continue marching, working and fighting for voting rights. Voting rights are being rolled back rather than being rolled forward. We are going to have to fight in the Alabama Legislature, in the U.S. Congress, in the courts and in every arena until everybody has the full right to vote in America.”
Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) said, “I am proud to be a part of the re-enactment of the Selma-to-Montgomery March. I am proud that we will stand where Dr. Martin Luther King and other leaders stood 50 years ago. I personally know the struggle over the last 50 years of trying to fully implement the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Supreme Court has gutted Section 5. Voter photo ID and proof of citizenship requirements are 21st Century poll taxes and literacy tests that are wrongly denying even more Americans the right to vote. We are marching for history, but more importantly, we are marching for the future. We must fully restore the Voting Rights Act.”