Today marks the sombre 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a defining moment in the American civil rights movement. On March 7, 1965, six hundred brave souls set out from Selma, Alabama, to secure one of our most sacred freedoms: the right to vote. However, their peaceful march on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was met with crushing violence. The late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, then only twenty-five years old, was beaten and suffered a fractured skull. Those brave marchers were pushed back, but they continued to march forward.
“A vote is an act of hope – but it’s also about making real improvements in our everyday lives. Voting is the path to good jobs. Cleaner air and safer streets. Affordable health care and better schools. Equal justice. And dignity.” Said US President Joe Biden
Their courage and sacrifice inspired many to join the fight for civil rights, to put an end to poll taxes, literacy tests, and other forms of discrimination that blocked Black Americans’ access to the ballot box. They achieved passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which enshrined critical protections for voting rights in federal law.
Yet, even after 58 years, the fight for voting rights in America is far from over. Republican lawmakers across America continue to write laws that weaken or make it harder for people of colour to vote, and courts have been ruling in favour of laws that suppress votes. It is crucial to understand that the right to vote is not a privilege but a fundamental right that must be protected and upheld.
The right to vote is one of the most important tools we have to participate in the democratic process and to shape the direction of our communities and our country. The right to vote should be made easier, not harder, for all Americans, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. It is our duty to ensure that every eligible voter has equal access to the ballot box and that their voices are heard.
As we commemorate the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, we must remember the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought for the right to vote. We must also commit ourselves to continue their work and to fight for justice, equality, and democracy. We must work towards a future where all Americans can exercise their right to vote without fear, intimidation, or discrimination.