The Bidens, The Bridge Crossing Jubilee, And The Voting Rights Act
Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden will be traveling to Selma, Alabama this Sunday to celebrate the city’s historic role in the civil rights movement. The Bridge Crossing Jubilee is an annual event that commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” march from Selma to Montgomery that led to eventual passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Ironically enough, the Bridge Crossing Jubilee takes place on the heels of conservative Supreme Court justices expressing doubt about the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act this week, signaling that a key provision of the legislation could be struck down. Justice Antonin Scalia referred to Section 5 of the historic civil rights legislation as "the perpetuation of a racial entitlement."
On March 7, 1965, more than 600 peaceful civil rights protesters prepared to march 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery to protest unfair voter registration practices and the death of activist Jimmie Lee Jackson at the hands of the Alabama police.
As the protesters made it to the Edmunds Pettus Bridge, they were mercilessly beaten by Alabama lawmen. Two days later on March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a symbolic march to the bridge. Afterward, civil rights leaders secured court protection for a third, full-scale march from Selma to Montgomery.
Days after the march, the Voting Rights Act was sent to Congress by President Lyndon Johnson. On Aug. 6, 1965 President Johnson signed the Act into law with Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. in attendance.
The Bridge Crossing Jubilee takes place the first weekend in March at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and is attended by an estimated 30,000 people. It hosts more than 40 events including workshops, concerts, banquets, educational summits, parades, award ceremonies, pageants and a street festival. It also serves as a reunion for many of the historical participants, according to the event website.
The Bidens are expected to attend a unity brunch before participating in the annual crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Bridget Todd is a reporter for Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetMarie.