President Barack Obama delivered a speech in Selma, Al today to mark the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march known as “Bloody Sunday”. On March 7, 1965, police attacked demonstrators who attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus bridge to protest African-Americans who were denied the right to vote. The country’s first African-American president led the ceremony where he praised the men and women who took part in the civil rights moment in the 1960s but also expressed more needed to be done with race relations in America. Mr. Obama remarked:
We just need to open our eyes, and ears, and hearts, to know that this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not yet over, the race is not yet won, and that reaching that blessed destination where we are judged, all of us, by the content of our character — requires admitting as much, facing up to the truth.
Mr. Obama also mentioned the Justice Department’s recently disclosed reports on blatant racism in the Ferguson, Mo police department along with a municipal government which used police fines to help the city’s budget. In the report which was released this week, federal prosecutors revealed there wasn’t enough evidence to charge former Officer Darren Wilson, with a federal crime for the deadly shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown. In the investigation, it was uncovered the police force used large criminal fines and fees to raise money for the city’s pockets and had high arrests against minorities. While noting how far minorities have come, Mr. Obama also claimed change was needed and the incident in Ferguson wasn’t “endemic”. Mr. Obama stated:
Just this week, I was asked whether I thought the Department of Justice’s Ferguson report shows that, with respect to race, little has changed in this country. I understand the question, for the report’s narrative was woefully familiar. It evoked the kind of abuse and disregard for citizens that spawned the Civil Rights Movement. But I rejected the notion that nothing’s changed. What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it’s no longer endemic, or sanctioned by law and custom; and before the Civil Rights Movement, it most surely was.