The City of Selma observed the 49th anniversary of Bloody Sunday over the weekend. It was on March 7, 1965 when state and local lawmen attacked protesters on the Edmund Pettus bridge. The demonstrators were marching for voting rights. Four days of events concluded yesterday in Selma that drew civil rights leaders from across the country. One was the Reverend William Barber. He's head of North Carolina’s NAACP. Barber says he looks at the event as not only a remembrance but a call to action. He says there's been progress, but we have a long way to go.
Rev. William Barber: “When we come to Selma, we not only come here remembering what they fought for, and we not only recommit ourselves to the fight again today to ensure that things aren’t back, but we also are inspired with a kind of hope. Because if they could meet dogs, and billy clubs, and blood, and death, and still transform this nation then, SURELY we who are the children of that movement can do MORE than they did, because we have more than they had.”
He had sharp criticism toward what he sees as the extreme right policies of state Republican legislatures that swept into office in 2010.
Barber: “You cut healthcare. You cut public education. You cut earned income tax credits. You cut unemployment. And you cut and deny voting rights. And then you give more tax breaks to the wealthy, and you give people more guns, and that gives you a better society. The more you articulate how ludicrous that kind of public policy is, a new and a fresh movement will begin, and that will be the way that we HONOR those that walked across this bridge 49 years ago.”
Barber is the head of what are called the “Moral Monday” demonstrations in North Carolina, which are critical of the state’s conservative policies. They became so successful that some people in other states, including in Alabama, are hoping to imitate them.