The White House announced last week that President Barack Obama plans to head to Selma, Ala., in March to commemorate the 50th anniversary of historic marches led by civil rights leaders. But some black lawmakers are upset over his planned date of arrival to participate in the event, Alabama Media Group reports.
A group of black legislators on Friday urged Obama to march on Sunday, March 8, instead of March 7, as part of the 50th-anniversary commemoration of "Bloody Sunday," when civil rights marchers were beaten on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the report says.
Alabama state Sen. Hank Sanders (D-Selma) and other leaders said they were blindsided by Obama's announcement—made in conjunction with U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)—that the president would march on the anniversary date of March 7 and not March 8. The annual march, usually held on a Sunday in the first week of March, has been planned by Sanders and others annually since the 1970s, the report notes.
Sanders said any attempt to hold two marches would be "divisive" and would send the wrong signals to the world, writes the news outlet.
He said there is a very specific reason for their date, which is to commemorate "Bloody Sunday," the report says. On March 7, 1965, state police beat marchers attempting to walk from Selma to Montgomery, who were detained on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and driven back. The incident was recently captured in the powerful Paramount film Selma, the news outlet notes.
But Lewis, who was beaten on the bridge in 1965, is said to prefer a march on the actual 50th anniversary, the report says.
Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford reportedly called Obama's senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, and urged the White House to reschedule, the report notes. Details were not available about the outcome of the call by deadline.
Read more at Alabama Media Group.