Jesse Jackson joins AL leaders to promote Bloody Sunday anniversary

Jesse Jackson joins AL leaders to promote Bloody Sunday anniversary
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Long time civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson visited Montgomery Friday. He spent some time promoting the upcoming events to mark the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

One thing Jackson didn't discuss was the controversy over when President Barack Obama plans to visit Alabama and take the walk across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma.

Obama's administration announced nearly two weeks ago that he'd accepted an invitation from Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga) to visit Selma on Saturday, March 7.

But the annual march across the Edmund Pettus bridge to commemorate Bloody Sunday has always been held on Sunday. Jan. 23 a group of black leaders in Alabama publicly urged the President to change his plans and visit on Sunday.

Friday, a larger group of leaders joined Jackson, all of them reiterating the significance of commemorating the event on Sunday.

"Bloody Sunday is sacred. It's sacred because blood was shed on that Sunday, it's sacred because it was a Sunday, not because it was a Saturday or a Monday," said Sen. Hank Sanders, a Democrat from Selma who's been the mastermind behind the annual commemorative march since the 1970s.

"We're going to celebrate Bloody Sunday like we've always done," Rep. John Knight, a fellow Democrat from Montgomery, added.

Jackson did not join in that chorus, saying "it's not an issue. That's not the reason we're here today. We don't know what his agenda is. We are affirming when the historical march will be."

Jackson wanted to make the point that the Voting Rights Act that was passed after Bloody Sunday in 1965 has been weakened since sections 4 and 5 were taken out in 2013. Jackson says he'll be in Selma for the entire week leading up to the 50th anniversary.


Jackson's visit to Montgomery also included a special visit to the campus of Alabama State University where he spoke with students and addressed concerns familiar to some in the River Region. He shared with students his views on poverty, voting rights and health care.

"Poverty remains a weapon of mass destruction," Jackson said. "How can a state like this turn down acts to provide Medicaid for poor people?Women cannot get mammogram's, men cannot get prostate exams, the poor cannot get medical care," he said.

Jackson wanted students to use his message as a way to develop and sharpen their skills, to build and heal.

The civil rights activist also used his time on campus to encourage students to vote and to get involved in their community.

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