This weekend, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of the famous march from Selma to Montgomery. In 1965, twenty-five year old John Lewis, with whom I now serve in Congress, led that march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He and dozens of others were savagely beaten by Alabama State troopers on March 7 in what came to be known as Bloody Sunday. The country's outrage at this senseless violence turned the tide in the struggle for federal legislation to protect the right to vote. Days later, President Johnson announced he would bring a Voting Rights Act to Congress and four months after that, it passed.
Thank you to John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the other foot soldiers of the civil rights movement who refused to back down in Selma. We know that there is one thing above all others we can do to repay the debt we owe you for your bravery and sacrifice. It is the one thing we must encourage others to do as well. It is the thing that will restore hope and power to our democracy . . . VOTE!