CORAL GABLES, Florida – Speaking here Saturday evening, Hillary Clinton marked the 50th Anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” civil rights clash in Selma, Alabama. She called the event “a historic anniversary of the long march of towards equality and a more perfect union. But also recommitting to carry the cause forward into the 21st century.”
President Obama, former President George W. Bush and a dozens of members of Congress – including Rep. John Lewis, who was beaten with other civil rights marchers that day in 1965 – gathered Saturday in Selma to commemorate the event, when state troops violently attacked voting rights marchers organized by Martin Luther King Jr.
Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not attend. Instead, the former first couple were in Miami for the Clinton Global Initiative University conference, a project of the charitable foundation that bears the family’s name, which brings together hundreds of university students who make commitments to improve their communities or the world in various ways.
Hillary Clinton praised Lewis as a friend and “hero” of the civil rights movement, and urged attendees to watch Obama “superb speech.”
She also connected the events of Selma to the struggle for gender equality, which she’s working to advance to a project at her family’s charitable foundation. “Whether it’s women’s rights, or human rights, civil rights or LGBT rights, we’re counting on all of you to lead the way, and that’s what the no ceilings initiative at the Clinton Foundation is really all about,” she said.
Earlier, Clinton took to twitter call for Americans to “keep fighting for voting rights.” Democrats have used the anniversary of Selma to call for a renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a major part of which was gutted by the Supreme Court two years ago. But Republicans have called for “decoupling” the commemoration of the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march from the voting rights.
Speaking near the Edmund Pettus Bridge – named for a Ku Klux Klan leader – where troopers attacked the marchers, Obama said that while race relations had improved in the intervening half century, there were still new “bridges to be crossed.”
Bill Clinton also spoke out on Twitter. “50 years ago, a single day in Selma became a profoundly important moment in our history,” he wrote.
In a three-minute video he shared along with the tweet, the former president recalled growing up in the south and witnessing “first hand the degrading consequences of segregation and discrimination.”
Hillary Clinton and Obama, along with Bill Clinton, joined arm-in-arm with Lewis at Edmund Pettus Bridge in 2007, during the height of the heated Democratic presidential primary.
Clinton is expected to launch a second presidential campaign as soon as next month.