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50 years ago this week, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a host of others, including Congressman John Lewis then a young civil rights activist, led a march from Selma, Alabama  to Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital, in a quest for voting rights. The group of marchers was stopped at the Edmund Pettus bridge and set upon by police with dogs and batons, which was broadcast around the world to the shock and disdain of the global community.

The march was know as ‘Bloody Sunday’ and is considered one of the defining moments of the civil rights movement. President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, will address that history in a speech from Selma, Alabama on Saturday. He spoke with the Tom Joyner Morning Show about the march’s legacy, the problems American still faces and what he hopes his daughters, Sasha, 16, and Malia, 13, who will accompany him along with First Lady Michelle Obama, will gain from their first visit to the historic city.

TOM JOYNER:  Good morning, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good morning, Tom. How are you doing, man?

TOM: I’m doing good, and I’m ready for the celebration in Selma. I will be joining you tomorrow morning, Saturday morning, in Selma.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it’s going to be a magnificent celebration and I’m really looking forward not just to being there myself, but to having the chance to take Michelle and the girls down there. You know, Malia and Sasha haven’t been down there. And for them to be able to see this place where, you know, at a crossroads in our history, the kind of America that we all believe in was championed and ultimately vindicated. That’s a powerful thing.

SYBIL: How great is that? That is powerful.

TOM: It is.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

TOM: How old were you? This was 50 years ago.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Yeah, I was three when this happened.

TOM: So when did you find out about Selma? And when did you realize its significance to our people?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I’ll tell you, it was really my mother when I was pretty young, six, seven, eight. You know, she would give me sort of children’s books about the civil rights movement. Or she played Mahalia Jackson songs. And just give me that sense of this great inheritance that we had. And that’s part of what, you know, I want to communicate to my girls but also to the country is, you know, this was a quintessentially American moment. America, at its best, is about its capacity for change. And not just denying problems, but taking them head on. And America at its best is also about ordinary people, citizens, we the people, making change.  And there are very few examples in American history, or human history, where that basic notion of, you know, maids, and Pullman porters and, you know, young white priests traveling from Massachusetts, and rabbis and just, you know, people without high office or great wealth.

TOM: Right.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Just coming together and saying we’re going to stand up for what’s true and what’s right. And then to see the most powerful nation on earth change because of that.  That is, you know, that’s the thing that I think I want everybody to understand because so often, you know, during Black History Month our kids are watching, you know, Dr. King, the steps to the Lincoln Memorial,even the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. It starts seeming very far away and very distant. And the great thing about, I think, the celebration tomorrow is for people to say, first of all, this was just yesterday, basically. It didn’t, it wasn’t, you know, way back in the past—this just happened. And the people who were there are still around.

TOM: Yeah.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: And you can talk to them. And they’ll tell you they were afraid. And they’ll tell you, you know, what it took for them to take a day off work or to take the risk that they might get hurt.

SYBIL: Or not be able to go to work.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Or not to be able to go to work. And then to still be able to do that anyway. You know, that’s what’s inspiring, because what that means is everybody could do it.

TOM: You know, Mr. President, we as a people, we don’t talk about Selma enough.  And there are a lot of people who don’t …

SYBIL: Who are not just teenagers.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I know.

TOM: And never heard this story.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yeah.

TOM: And this goes back to even back then, I’m from Tuskegee. On the last segment of the Selma Montgomery March, I was in Montgomery, which is only 40 miles away, at the St. Jude celebration where all the entertainers performed.  We had buses. Our parents didn’t go, because our parents worked, well, our parents worked for the government.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.

TOM: And we didn’t have, all we had was Black radio. We didn’t have social media.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right, right.

TOM:  We didn’t have any of that to tell the story.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Right.

TOM: And our parents, our parents really didn’t talk about it.  I knew what was happening, but I didn’t know the impact of what was going on till long after I left Tuskegee.

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6 thoughts on “President Obama Talks ‘Selma 50,’ Ferguson And The Legacy He Wants To Leave His Daughters

  1. The Struggle is not over, and WE as a PEOPLE and this COUNTRY has a LONG, LONG, LONG WAY TO GO.
    My family continues to live under “Jim Crow” in Satsuma (Mobile County), Alabama, and it appears that high ranking officials are orchestrating the Jim Crow type treatmeant upon my family.
    It also appears that the local news anchors are prohibited from airing the truth about may family dilemma. I met with J. Quynh of channel 5 WKRG for an interview and the taping of photos of my family being forced into only ONLY having access to the BACK of our HOME and PROPERTY. BUT, my family’s dilemma HAS YET TO BE PUBLISHED.
    In ALABAMA, because of the COLOR OF OUR SKIN, we are being forced into ENTERING and receiving ALL of our services at the BACK of OUR HOME. This includes our U. S. MAIL, as our mail box has been llegally moved and purposely placed BEHIND our HOME. This is a FEDERAL CRIMINAL OFFENSE, but the COURT says that “we will just have to accept it”.
    This dehumanizing treatment is being done: (1) under color of law …. because we are eople of color (2) in violation of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Satsuma, Alabama. 1.4 … SHALL IN EVERY INSTANCE be construed, applied, and enforced in a manner consistent with applicable federal law. City’s ZONING ORDINANCE. (This is DISCRETIONARY ZONING with RACIAL ANIMUS) and, (3) In VIOLATION of FEDERAL STATUTES – 42 U.S. Code § 1982.
    What saddens me more is that NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE. I have contacted the Mobile County NAACP, the Alabama Chapter of the NAACP, the Mobile County DA, the Mobile FBI, Rev. AL Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the SPLC …. And none have intervened to corrrect this Jim Crow retment of my family.
    Hildreth Drive has provided access the FRONT of OUR HOME, and has been in existence for more than 115 years. NOW, it is BARRICADED, and we have been re-routed to the back of our home via a trail cut in by Mr.Mauice Harless, with the consent of the governing body of the city ofSatsuma. The BACK of our HOME AND PROPERTY IS OUR ONLY MEANS OF ACCESS.
    The closing this roadway is a violation of the: the City of Satsuma Zoning Ordinances; (2) the Codes of Alabama – re: Section 35-18-2, Easements; (3) the Mobile County Subdivision Regulations, and(4) USC 42 – 1983. It appears to me that because we are Americans, called African-American, we must live by another set of rule.
    The City of Satsuma (Mobile County, Alabama) in concert with Mr. Maurice Harless, PURPOSELY CLOSED (BARRICADED) the ENTRY to the FRONT of our HOME, and now we can ONLY ACCESS our family’s HOME FROM the BACK.
    It is BLATANTLY CLEAR that [they] do not want us NEGROES to pass through the subdivision of GILBERT CREEK ESTATES which crosses part of Hildreth Drive. For this reason, we have been re-routed to the BACK. To the BACK … To the BACK. ….
    A. We cannot call the POLICE – we will be arrested – retaliation / REPRISAL. The city of Satsuma is less than 6% African American.
    B. The Courts have forbidden us to file another complaint/Court Action against these perpetrators.
    The Court says that we may not like [it] and that we will just have to accept it.
    I wonder if [they] would treat a Caucasian family in this manner. Hummmm ??????
    You be the judge.

  2. Linda on said:

    It was awesome to see John Lewis introduce the President as they came to the end of the Edmund Pettis bridge. This is the same bridge that Mr. Lewis received a serious beat down from ugly Racist Pigs back in the day.

    However, this march also just goes to show how far we have to go as a people. When history repeats itself-it is often not good.

    Seeing African-American’s marching in the streets again due to police brutality, recent police shootings of un-armed men of color-we’ve been there-done that-yet we are doing it again!!!!

    I hope and pray that when the President’s beautiful daughters reach adulthood that things will have improved in Amerykah-however, I sincerely doubt it!!!!!

  3. chris on said:

    His daughters will be well off for the rest of their lives. On the other hand, the black community will be worse off than they were in 2008.
    Disagree? Please list what good has Obama done for the black community.

  4. Shirley Johnson on March 7, 2015 at 6:22 pm said:

    Corrected version

    The Struggle is not over, and WE as a PEOPLE and this COUNTRY has a LONG, LONG, LONG WAY TO GO.

    My family continues to live under “Jim Crow” in Satsuma (Mobile County), Alabama, and it appears that high ranking officials are orchestrating the Jim Crow type treatmeant upon my family.

    It also appears that the local news anchors are prohibited from airing the truth about may family dilemma. I met with J. Quynh of channel 5 WKRG for an interview and the taping of photos of my family being forced into only ONLY having access to the BACK of our HOME and PROPERTY. BUT, my family’s dilemma HAS YET TO BE PUBLISHED.

    In ALABAMA, because of the COLOR OF OUR SKIN, we are being forced into ENTERING and receiving ALL of our services at the BACK of OUR HOME. This includes our U. S. MAIL, as our mail box has been llegally moved and purposely placed BEHIND our HOME. This is a FEDERAL CRIMINAL OFFENSE, but the COURT says that “we will just have to accept it”.

    This dehumanizing treatment is being done:
    (1) under color of law …. because we are eople of color
    (2) in violation of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Satsuma, Alabama. 1.4 … SHALL IN EVERY INSTANCE be construed, applied, and enforced in a manner consistent with applicable federal law. City’s ZONING ORDINANCE. (This is DISCRETIONARY ZONING with RACIAL ANIMUS) and,
    (3) In VIOLATION of FEDERAL STATUTES – 42 U.S. Code § 1982.

    What saddens me more is that NO ONE SEEMS TO CARE. I have contacted the Mobile County NAACP, the Alabama Chapter of the NAACP, the Mobile County DA, the Mobile FBI, Rev. AL Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the SPLC …. And none have intervened to corrrect this Jim Crow retment of my family.

    Hildreth Drive has provided access the FRONT of OUR HOME, and has been in existence for more than 115 years. NOW, it is BARRICADED, and we have been re-routed to the back of our home via a trail cut in by Mr.Mauice Harless, with the consent of the governing body of the city ofSatsuma. The BACK of our HOME AND PROPERTY IS OUR ONLY MEANS OF ACCESS.

    The closing this roadway is a violation of the: the City of Satsuma Zoning Ordinances; (2) the Codes of Alabama – re: Section 35-18-2, Easements; (3) the Mobile County Subdivision Regulations, and(4) USC 42 – 1983. It appears to me that because we are Americans, called African-American, we must live by another set of rule.

    The City of Satsuma (Mobile County, Alabama) in concert with Mr. Maurice Harless, PURPOSELY CLOSED (BARRICADED) the ENTRY to the FRONT of our HOME, and now we can ONLY ACCESS our family’s HOME FROM the BACK.

    It is BLATANTLY CLEAR that [they] do not want us NEGROES to pass through the subdivision of GILBERT CREEK ESTATES which crosses part of Hildreth Drive. For this reason, we have been re-routed to the BACK. To the BACK … To the BACK. ….

    A. We cannot call the POLICE – we will be arrested – retaliation / REPRISAL. The city of Satsuma is less than 6% African American.

    B. The Courts have forbidden us to file another complaint/Court Action against these perpetrators.

    The Court says that we may not like [it] and that we will just have to accept it.

    I wonder if [they] would treat a Caucasian family in this manner. Hummmm ??????

    You be the judge.

    Reply ↓

  5. The Struggle is not over. ANd, WE as a PEOPLE and this COUNTRY has a LOMG WAY TO GO.

    My family continues to live under “Jim Crow” in Satsuma (Mobile County), Alabama, and it appears that high ranking officials are orchestrating the Jim Crow type treatmeant upon my family.

    It also appears that the local news anchors are prohibited from airing the truth about may family dilemma. I met with J. Quynh of channel 5 WKRG for an interview and the taping of photos of my family being force into only having access to the BACK of our HOME and PROPERTY. BUT, my family’s dilemma HAS YET TO BE PUBLISHED.

    In ALABAMA, because of the COLOR OF OUR SKIN, we are being forced into ENTERING and receiving ALL of our services at the BACK of OUR HOME. This includes our U. S. MAIL.

    This dehumanizing treatment is being done:
    (1) under color of law ..
    (2) in violation of the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Satsuma, Alabama. 1.4 … SHALL IN EVERY INSTANCE be construed, applied, and enforced in a manner consistent with applicable federal law. City’s ZONING ORDINANCE. (This is DISCRETIONARY ZONING with RACIAL ANIMUS) and,
    (3) In VIOLATION of FEDERAL STATUTES – 42 U.S. Code § 1982.

    What saddens me more is that NO NONE SEEMS TO CARE. I have contacted the Mobile County NAACP, the Alabama Chapter of the NAACP, the Mobile County DA, the Mobile FBI, Rev. AL Sharpton, Rev. Jesse Jackson, the SPLC …. And none have intervened.

    Hildreth Drive has provided access the FRONT of OUR HOME, and has been in existence for more than 115 years. NOW, it is BARRICADED, and we have been re-routed to the back of our home. The BACK of our HOME AND PROPERTY IS OUR ONLY MEANS OF ACCESS.

    The closing this roadway is a violation of the: the City of Satsuma Zoning Ordinances; (2) the Codes of Alabama – re: Section 35-18-2, Easements; (3) the Mobile County Subdivision Regulations, and(4) USC 42 – 1983. It appears to me that because we are Americans, called African-American, we must live by another set of rule.

    The City of Satsuma (Mobile County, Alabama) in concert with Mr. Maurice Harless, PURPOSELY CLOSED (BARRICADED) the ENTRY to the FRONT of our HOME, and now we can ONLY ACCESS our family’s HOME FROM the BACK.

    It is BLATANTLY CLEAR that [they] do not want us NEGROES to pass through the subdivision of GILBERT CREEK ESTATES which crosses part of Hildreth Drive. For this reason, we have been re-routed to the BACK. To the BACK … To the BACK. ….

    A. We cannot call the POLICE – we will be arrested – retaliation / REPRISAL. The city of Satsuma is less than 6% African American.

    B. The Courts have forbidden us to file another complaint/Court Action against these perpetrators.

    The Court says that we may not like [it] and that we will just have to accept it.

    I wonder if [they] would treat a Caucasian family in this manner. Hummmm ??????

    You be the judge.

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