House Resolution 10 Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday
SACRAMENTO, CA – California Legislative Black Caucus Chair Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., commemorated the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” with House Resolution 10. Fifty years after this day in 1965, with the nation embroiled in a fresh debate about race in America, the country’s first black president joined a bipartisan congressional delegation and tens of thousands of marchers at the foot of the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. to commemorate a day that forever altered the landscape of American history.
“The experience in Selma was both humbling and sobering,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer. “As we stood where the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. stood 50 years ago, Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and I were reminded of an unarmed African American male named Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was shot by a public safety officer in 1965. Then nearly 50 years to the day, another young African American male in Madison, Wisconsin was shot by a public safety officer. This shows us that no matter how much things have changed, some things remain the same. There is much more work to be done.”
On March 7, 1965, led by now-Congressman John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the late Reverend Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, more than 600 men, women, and children of all ethnicities assembled in Selma to march to Montgomery, Alabama to protest the denial of their basic right to vote. As the marchers began to cross the Pettus Bridge, Alabama State troopers fired tear gas into the crowd and savagely beat the marchers, of whom more than 50 were hospitalized.
Americans across the country witnessed this horrific event as news stations broadcasted the brutality worldwide. This day became infamously known as “Bloody Sunday”. After witnessing this disgraceful violence and from years of lobbying by civil rights leaders, President Lyndon Johnson strongly encouraged the Congress to pass what eventually became known as the 1965 Civil Rights Act.
“Fifty years ago, there was [an Alabama] governor named George Wallace who said, ‘Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever,’ stated Jones-Sawyer. “And to know that the Alabama governor now, Robert Bentley, is against affirmative action, immigration, gay rights and civil unions; he is continuing George Wallace’s legacy. We must not slide backwards as a nation.”
Even as Selma honors the foot soldiers of the past, there is a sentiment shared by Americans of today that this moment should be as much — if not more — about looking forward, with the conversation about civil rights and race relations once again in the spotlight.
“People put their lives in harm’s way fifty years ago and some laid down their lives so we could have the kind of Assembly house we have today. I know house resolutions are usually symbolic, but I think they can also be real and we can make this resolution real this year.”
Assembly Member Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr. is a Democrat representing areas of Los Angeles, including the communities of Huntington Park, Walnut Park and Florence- Firestone.
Visit the website of Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer: asmdc.org/members/a59/