Thousands march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge along with members of the cast of the movie "Selma" in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18, 2015 in Selma, Alabama.
Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty

Obama to visit Selma on 50th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’


The Rachel Maddow Show, 1/19/15, 9:32 PM ET

Civil rights icon Amelia Boynton to attend state of the union

Rachel Maddow reports that civil rights icon Amelia Boynton, at 103-years-old, is expected to attend the President Obama’s State of the Union address as the guest of Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, a native of Selma.
President Obama will visit Alabama this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic, civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

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.

RELATED: Selma for students

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.

Photo Essay: Remembering a revolutionary: Martin Luther King’s life, in photos

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.

Barack Obama, Celebrating Black History and Selma

Obama to visit Selma on 50th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday'