The vice president and black leaders commemorating a famous civil-rights march Sunday said efforts to diminish the impact of African-Americans’ votes haven’t stopped in the years since the 1965 Voting Rights Act added millions to Southern voter rolls.
More than 5,000 people followed Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting-rights marchers — including a young Lewis — by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by blacks and ended all-white rule in the South.
Biden, the first sitting vice president to participate in the annual re-enactment, said nothing shaped his consciousness more than watching TV footage of the beatings. He said marchers “broke the back of the forces of evil,” but that challenges to voting rights continue today with restrictions on early voting and voter registration drives and enactment of voter ID laws where no voter fraud has been shown.