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Selma: 50 Years Later: Remembering "Bloody Sunday"




Selma was the site of one of America's greatest horrors and greatest triumphs. Five decades ago, the plight of thousands of disenfranchised blacks drew the Rev. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to this town to wage the last great battle of the Civil Rights Movement.

King's choice to use Selma to spotlight the issue of voter disenfranchisement was strategic: Though blacks represented more than half of Selma's population, only one percent of them were registered to vote. Not only did the city exemplify the worst of Jim Crow, its sheriff, Jim Clark, was an ideal adversary in the mold of Birmingham's Bull Connor. A showdown between the two guaranteed national media attention.
"That was the point, to try to expose the worst of the situation," said Rutgers University historian Steven Lawson, who has authored several books on civil and voting rights.
This weekend, a grateful nation will mark the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." Thousands, including President Barack Obama, members of Congress, activists and others will recall the brutal attack on peaceful protesters attempting to march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge at Selma's edge, en route to Montgomery that became the catalyst for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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