March 2, 2015
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Terri Sewell applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of S517, a bipartisan bill she introduced in the House to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the courageous Foot Soldiers whose perilous journey from Selma to Montgomery led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“I am deeply humbled by the strong, bipartisan support this bill received in both the House and the Senate. Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Foot Soldiers of the Voting Rights Movement will serve as an enduring reminder of the blood, courage and sacrifice those marchers faced in the pursuit of equality. The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the portal through which America left its dark past and marched to a brighter future. This nation should never forget the sacrifices those who refused to accept second-class citizenship and demanded that our nation live up to the very ideals on which it was founded,” said Rep. Sewell. “I would like to thank Representative Martha Roby, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Corey Booker, and all of the members of the Alabama Congressional delegation for standing with me in support of this bill.”
“I am pleased that Sen. Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and his committee members have unanimously approved the Congressional Gold Medal for those who marched for voting rights in Selma. I am also grateful for the work of Reps. Roby and Sewell and our entire Alabama delegation for their work in the House. Fifty years ago, it was a time of tension and real danger. The marchers courageously moved forward on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to demand the voting rights to which they were entitled. They were attacked for doing so. This dramatic event captured the attention of the nation, led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and was a key event in ending the systematic denial of the right of African-American citizens to vote in many areas. Those who marched on that day deserve the high honor of the Congressional Gold Medal, which is reserved for exceptional achievements,” Senator Jeff Sessions said.
“I appreciate the efforts of everyone who made it possible to pass this bill expeditiously: my colleague in the House, Representative Terri Sewell, along with Senators Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby and Cory Booker. I am pleased to welcome the Faith and Politics Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama as a co-host. It is fitting for Congress to award its highest civilian honor to those who marched to ensure equal voting rights as we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday,” said Representative Martha Roby.
About the Congressional Gold Medal Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions. The medal was first awarded in 1776 by the second Continental Congress to General George Washington.
About the March from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 Civil rights activists were brutally attacked by Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965. This day, now known as Bloody Sunday, was the first of three planned, peaceful protests from Selma to Montgomery. Nearly 2,500 Foot Soldiers led by Dr. Martin Luther King attempted a second march two days later on March 9, 1965, now known as “Turnaround Tuesday.” An estimated 8,000 Foot Soldiers left Selma on March 21, 1965, and successfully marched to Montgomery to peacefully protest restrictive voting laws that prevented African-Americans from voting in the South.
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