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Congressman Brendan Boyle Salutes the Courage and Commitment of Civil Rights Marchers on the 50th Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’

March 7, 2015
Press Release
“Bloody Sunday” Sparked A National Push for Voting Rights, Culminating in the Enactment of the Voting Rights Act in August 1965

Philadelphia, PA– Today, Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-PA-13) is marking the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” by remembering the heroic actions of civil rights marchers who helped change our nation.  On March 7, 1965, a group of brave civil rights marchers, led by Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on their way to Montgomery to demand that African American citizens be finally given their constitutional right to vote.   At the bridge, the marchers were attacked by Alabama State troopers, with billy clubs, cattle prods, and tear gas.  Many of the marchers were injured, some of them severely.

“I salute the extraordinary courage and commitment of those civil rights marchers, who on March 7, 1965, marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, simply demanding their right to vote,” Congressman Boyle stated.  “All Americans owe the courageous marchers of ‘Bloody Sunday’ a debt of gratitude.” 

The images of “Bloody Sunday” galvanized the nation.  On March 15, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson addressed a Joint Session of Congress, urging Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act.  On March 21, Martin Luther King Jr. once again led a march across the bridge – this time joined by 30,000 people from across the country, including national civil rights leaders and Hollywood and other celebrities, and protected by federal troops.  On March 25, the marchers reached the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, where Reverend King and the other marchers called for voting rights legislation. 

“On August 6, 1965, five short months after ‘Bloody Sunday,’ the landmark Voting Rights Act was signed into law,” Congressman Boyle pointed out.  “The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was a landmark law, which has been responsible for most of the progress that has been made to outlaw discriminatory voting practices across America over the last 50 years.”

“Unfortunately, in June 2013, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that significantly weakened the Voting Rights Act by invalidating a key section,” concluded Congressman Boyle.  “Before the end of this year, this Congress must act to enact a revised, renewed and strengthened Voting Rights Act.  The necessity of action is critical.  The exercise of one’s voting rights are essential to who we are as Americans and to the strength of our democracy.”