According to the White House, on March 7, the commander-in-chief will visit Selma, the city where the 54-mile trek led by Martin Luther King Jr began. A White House official told msnbc that the visit will also “highlight the president and his administration’s overall efforts to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.”
On March 7, 1965 – now known as “Bloody Sunday” – about 500 civil rights marchers were beaten back by police officers equipped with tear gas and clubs as they tried to cross the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge. On March 21, 1965, a five-day march, led by King (under court protection) took place with crowds growing to 25,000 – an event that directly impacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
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This is not the first time Obama will be in Selma to commemorate the civil rights struggle there. In 2007, Obama, then a senator running for president, and his rival Hillary Clinton both marched over the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
On Friday, Obama hosted a screening at the White House of the new Martin Luther King biopic “Selma.” Actors in the film, including David Oyelowo (who plays King), Oprah Winfrey and Common, attended.
The screening came on the heels of criticism that “Selma” was snubbed by the Oscars. The motion picture academy did not nominate the black director and the black lead actor, handing the film just two nominations overall and sparking the viral hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.