Sunday, March 08, 2015

Selma 50: ‘They came with horses. They came with nightsticks’

March 7—today in the USA—is the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”, when unarmed African American citizens crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma, Alabama on their way to Montgomery, the state capital, to demand the voting rights that should have been their birthright under the US Constitution. White officials launched a viscous, violent attack on marchers.

The video above from the Los Angeles Times features Amelia Boynton Robinson, a marcher who almost lost her life that shameful day, sharing her recollections. Personal witness is always powerful. “They came with horses,” Boynton Robinson says, “They came with nightsticks.”

The Voting Rights Act that resulted from the atrocity in Selma did much to improve the entire USA, not just the South. But the US Supreme Court recently gutted the law. Now, state officials across the USA are moving to prevent minorities from voting by shortening voting hours and, most directly, requiring ID in order to be able to vote.

So, the work of 50 years ago is far from finished. The enemy now may not be overt racism, but it still lurks in the background, often hidden. It’s dishonest in the extreme to claim otherwise. However, regardless of whether efforts to prevent minorities from voting are motivated by racism or partisan politics, they MUST be resisted.

Amelia Boynton Robinson put it very well: “A vote-less people is a hopeless people.”

Let’s commit to securing the right to vote once and for all. There’s no better way to honour the victims of Bloody Sunday.


rogerogreen said...

And if anyrhing, voter rights have been whittled away, largely thanks to SCOTUS

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Absolutely. I thought Colin Powell had a good suggestion for dealing with the state voter ID laws: "You make sure you vote," he said. And, as for the people who "tried to put these barriers, these hurdles in your way … you vote
them out."