For The First Time In 56 Years, A 'Bloody Sunday' Without John Lewis Sunday's anniversary of the day marchers were beaten by police in Selma, Ala., will honor the late civil rights icon. Some 56 years later, former state Sen. Hank Sanders says his work isn't done.
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For The First Time In 56 Years, A 'Bloody Sunday' Without John Lewis

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For The First Time In 56 Years, A 'Bloody Sunday' Without John Lewis

For The First Time In 56 Years, A 'Bloody Sunday' Without John Lewis

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The commemoration of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Ala., will be different this year. The pandemic means there won't be marching crowds this weekend. The church service will be virtual.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And notably, a voice will be missing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOHN LEWIS: We're marching today to dramatize to the nation, dramatize to the world, the hundreds and thousands of Negro citizens of Alabama, but particularly here in the Black Belt area, denied the right to vote.

KELLY: That is the late John Lewis speaking on that day in 1965, when demonstrators, including Lewis, were brutally beaten by police while marching from Selma to Montgomery. It became a turning point in the civil rights movement that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

HANK SANDERS: We are going to miss him because he was a - he had become a symbol for the voting rights movement, but he was one of many.

SHAPIRO: Former State Sen. Hank Sanders helped organize this year's remembrance, which will honor Congressman John Lewis, along with other civil rights giants who died in 2020. Sanders says their work is not yet done.

SANDERS: Every time that it appears that Black people in the United States make a little advancement, a little progress, there is a powerful backlash.

KELLY: Many who fought to get the Voting Rights Act into law also lived to see it gutted by the Supreme Court. Already this year, more than 160 state-level bills seek to limit access to mail-in ballots, to tighten voter ID laws or introduce other restrictions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

SANDERS: When Dr. King said, how long, and we would all shout back, not long, I really thought that it wasn't going to be long. And so here it is 50 years later, and we still protecting what's left of the Voting Rights Act and then try to advance it.

SHAPIRO: That was former Sen. Sanders again. One more echo of history - like the racial justice protests of the past year, it was the death of a Black man at the hands of police that sparked the march to Montgomery.

SANDERS: Folks on that Bloody Sunday march was marching because Jimmie Lee Jackson had been shot in cold blood by Alabama state troopers.

SHAPIRO: On Monday, 56 years and a day after Bloody Sunday, jury selection begins in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd.

(SOUNDBITE OF TEEN DAZE'S "ANEW")

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