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Thousands of people walked across a Selma, Alabama, bridge on Sunday in a re-enactment of the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" march — part of a weekend of events marking the 50th anniversary of a turning point in the U.S. civil rights movement.
Original protesters who had marched 50 years ago were among the crowd crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where police and state troopers beat and fired tear gas at peaceful marchers who were advocating against racial discrimination at the voting booth.
The event became known as "Bloody Sunday" and prompted a follow-up march led by civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. that spurred the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
"Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we're getting closer," President Barack said in a speech in Selma on Saturday.
Obama, the first black U.S. president, said discrimination by law enforcement officers in Ferguson, Missouri, showed that a lot of work needed to be done on race in America, but he warned it was wrong to suggest that progress had not been made.
"Fifty years ago if we were standing here we would be surprised if a police officer did not beat us," said Dick Gregory, 83, who was on the bridge 50 years before.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma on Sunday, vowing to continue to fight recent efforts to gut the Voting Rights Act.
“The times change, the issues seem different, but the solutions are timeless and tested: Question authority and the old ways,” Holder said. “Work. Struggle. Challenge entrenched power. Persevere. Overcome.”
Al Jazeera and Reuters