SELMA, AL (WSFA) - President Barack Obama's plans to visit Selma in order to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Bloody Sunday are creating controversy among some event organizers. While they each want the president to participate, not everyone is on the same page about when.
A group of black leaders in Alabama held a news conference Friday saying they want President Obama to come to Dallas County on a different day. With plans to commemorate the march that helped African-Americans gain voting rights bigger than ever, organizers want Obama in the city on Sunday -- the same day of the week the original march took place.
The problem? Obama's scheduled to arrive on Saturday, the day before activists will make their annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
State Rep. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) said a Saturday march would be "divisive" at a time "when unity is needed more than ever." He called the President's plan for a Saturday trip "bad for the struggle to retain voting rights when voting rights are under attack." He also said it would look bad on the city, state and people who have struggled for voting rights in a symbolic way.
U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Dist 7) says she invited President Obama "numerous times" to take part in the commemoration.
"He accepted the personal invitation of Congressman John Lewis," Sewell said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "Nevertheless, we should all be elated whenever a sitting President comes to our state."
Sewell's letter when on to say that she was "especially honored that President Obama would come to Selma for the 50th commemoration given the significance of the Voting Rights Act to his own Presidential election."
While the president's trip is scheduled for Saturday, March 7, the commemorative march is still slated for the next day.