UPDATED: The president’s speech :
Rep. Terri Sewell at 1:59:20
Rep. John Lewis at 2:04:00
President Obama at 2:12:00
Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.
President Obama on this weeks events:
“When I take Malia and Sasha down with Michelle next week, down to Selma, part of what I’m hoping to do is to remind them of their own obligations. Because there are going to be marches for them to march, and struggles for them to fight”
There are many stories about the march, few as imbued with symbolism as this one Tweeted by @splcenter: The Untold Story of Why MLK Wore a Hawaiian Lei at Selma
Bright Hawaiian lei will be on full display this weekend when President Barack Obama, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis and others march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to mark the anniversary of the civil rights protests.[…]
In photos of the 54-mile third march from Selma to Montgomery on March 21, 1965, Martin Luther King, John Lewis and other demonstrators can be seen wearing the iconic Hawaiian flower garlands.
The journey of those flowers from Hawaii to Alabama started a year earlier, when King delivered a lecture at the University of Hawaii. It was there that he met Rev. Abraham Akaka, the brother of future U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
In the lead-up to the third march, as President Lyndon Johnson was making preparations to protect the demonstrators with military policemen and the Alabama National Guard, Rev. Akaka sent gifts of bright white lei from the Pacific Ocean to the Deep South to be draped on the marchers.
For the reverend, it was a symbolic gesture that affirmed Asian-American support for the civil rights movement.
Now, 50 years later, Lewis and Hawaii native Obama will join Asian-American lawmakers Sen. Mazie Hirono and Rep. Mark Takai, among nearly 100 lawmakers, to pay homage to the civil rights movement and “Bloody Sunday.”
The first black president, born in Hawaii, will be wearing a lei to honor the civil rights movement.