Washington, D.C. -- Congresswoman Terri Sewell applauded President Obama for signing into law H.R. 431, a bill the Congresswoman sponsored to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Foot Soldiers of the Voting Rights Movement, aboard Air Force One en route to Selma for the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.
"I am deeply humbled to represent the Civil Rights District in Congress. History was made in my hometown when 600 brave men and women first attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery in pursuit of equal voting rights. Bloody Sunday shook the core of our national consciousness and forced our country to explore the depths of our own inhumanity.
"As President Obama said, the Americans who undertook this journey 'gave courage to millions.' Undeterred and undaunted, more marchers heeded Dr. Martin Luther King’s call to come to Selma and join the movement for voting equality. This nation should never forget those who marched, prayed and died in the pursuit of civil and voting rights.
"The Congressional Gold medal is a great reminder of the power of ordinary Americans to collectively achieve extraordinary social change. Their stories and courage should not be lost on the pages of American history."
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.