Yesterday we heard people criticizing the GOP leadership for not going to Selma for the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”.
This afternoon, in the hot center of the state of Alabama, a parade of Americans will pay homage to a historic march. Meeting on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, on which hundreds of black Americans were beaten for the crime of standing up to their government, Barack Obama will remember a heroic feat of rebellion, and a brutal act of repression. The president, the White House has announced, will speak personally “about what it means to stand on the spot where police beat and gassed 600 unarmed protestors,” and he will explain what the moment means to him as an African American.
And the Republican party’s current leadership will be nowhere to be seen.
By declining to join, Ohio representative Marsha Fudge told Politico, the GOP has “lost an opportunity to show the American people that they care.” Fudge is, of course, entirely correct. By electing to skip the proceedings — and to send a former president and a handful of congressional representatives in lieu — the Republican leadership suggests that it does not recognize what Selma represents within America’s long history of public dissent.
That was Charles C. W. Cooke who writes for the conservative National Review. He was wrong.
Washington (CNN)Update – 6:55 p.m. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will now go to Selma Saturday to join in the 50th anniversary events.
McCarthy tells CNN he considers John Lewis a close friend, and wants to be there to commemorate the historic anniversary.
McCarthy has been to Selma in the past, and he and Lewis worked together to show the movie Selma to all lawmakers in a Capitol auditorium.
Top Republican leaders on Capitol Hill won’t join the largest bipartisan congressional delegation ever in Selma, Alabama, this weekend to mark the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday civil rights march.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will not be on hand for the celebration, according to spokesmen for McConnell and Boehner.
A number of prominent Democrats were not on hand either, including Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. But not only did Kevin McCarthy attend, so did GOP chairman Reince Priebus, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina (who also co-sponsored the event) as well as George and Laura Bush.
So were they warmly welcomed?
A civil rights leader refused to march across the historic bridge in Selma during the 50th anniversary celebration Saturday because former President George W. Bush was also marching.
Diane Nash, described as a lieutenant to Martin Luther King Jr., said she did not wish to march across the bridge in Alabama because she said Bush represented violence — something she claimed was at odds with the Selma legacy.
But wait! There’s more!
Funny, we’d thought we’d just watched the entirety of President Obama’s historic #Selma50 speech on Fox News, along with an introductory address by Rep. John Lewis, the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and interviews with several other historians and prominent figures in the civil rights movement. The “spring forward” time change must have screwed up our cable box or something.
Twitchy shows several tweet claiming Fox News was AWOL from Selma, along with some replies with pictures that prove they were indeed there.
But wait! There’s more!
Well, after President Obama’s speech, Fox News did conduct a remote interview with Jesse Jackson, who’s kind of a Republican. And for some reason they also put on some “crazy black lady.”
Did anyone catch her name? Alveda King or something. No idea what she has to do with Selma, but that’s Fox News for you.
Alveda King is MLK’s niece.
Segregation, and it’s older brother Slavery, are two of the ugliest stains on America’s record. But in the end we redeemed ourselves. The horrible violence that took place at Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Bloody Sunday” fifty years ago led directly to the passage of the Voting Rights Act a few months later. The VRA was the final nail in the coffin of Jim Crow.
But what happened yesterday was a partisan political event starring Barack Obama and the narratives about the GOP participation and Fox News coverage were written in stone months ago. It is no coincidence that one of the most highly promoted movies of the recent Academy Awards was Oprah Winfrey’s “Selma” which was a dramatization of the actual events.
Nor is it a coincidence that just a few days ago Eric Holder’s Department of Justice released a report alleging systemic and pervasive racism in Ferguson Missouri. (Eric Holder was also in attendance at Selma yesterday.)
It really didn’t matter what the Republicans did. They were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.
UPDATED (via Twitchy):