Friday, March 02, 2007

Clintons and Obama set to remember Bloody Sunday

WaPo - At Site of '65 March, an '08 Collision: Sunday's Selma Event to Be a Stage for Obama -- and Clinton(s)

Sen. Barack Obama and both Hillary and Bill Clinton plan to attend events on Sunday in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the anniversary of "Bloody Sunday". I'm not 100% sure how I feel about that. I know that the event has always had as much political significance as it does historical significance, but it has garnered bi-partisan participation in the past that appears to be lost this year.
Lewis -- an icon of "Bloody Sunday," whose skull was bashed by Alabama police as he helped lead a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery on March 7, 1965 -- organizes a pilgrimage back each year, traditionally with a group of both Democratic and Republican members of Congress in attendance (though this year, few Republicans are expected to attend, in part because the event appears poised to become dominated by Democratic politics).
On the one hand, it shows that the candidates are interested in the black vote, which seems to be fitting as a way to commemorate the event and show how far voting rights have come. On the other hand, however, it seems to me that the popularity of the Clintons and Obama could have the potential to draw in a large crowd that is really unconcerned about the significance of the day, which bothers me on some level.

It is possible that it could be a good thing. Those who do not feel passionately about the voting rights struggle or Black history, but attend due to the celebrities involved, could learn somethings and gain a greater appreciation for the struggles of others. On the other hand, the significance of the event could get overpowered by a political and media circus due to the celebrities. I hope for the former, not the latter. We shall see.


Kara Gotsch said...

I work with voting rights advocates in AL who will be participating in the Bloody Sunday events and they are very concerned that all the excitement about presidential politics will overshadow the commemoration of the historic voting rights victories and the need for continued vigilance, particularly around issues of felon disenfranchisement. They will be calling on national leaders to join the voting rights movement’s next frontier, voting restoration for people with felony convictions.

Jan said...

Restoring voting rights is actually something that interests me quite a bit. I'm glad to hear that there is work being done on that frontier here in Alabama.