Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

March That Started in Selma Continues

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

March That Started in Selma Continues

Article excerpt

Telling them "we know the march is not over," President Barack Obama addressed some 40,000 people at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., over the weekend.

Many of those who turned out for Mr. Obama's speech were veterans of the first attempt 50 years ago to cross the bridge on a 50-mile hike to Montgomery to fight for African-Americans' voting rights.

They remember the angry expression of the police on horses wielding batons and firing tear gas. They remember the ugly words uttered by the cops and state troopers that day, their unyielding expressions of contempt, the beatings, the fractured skulls and broken bones. They remember the indignity of being arrested by men who could just as easily have been wearing the white ceremonial hoods and robes that their hatred represented.

The veterans of Selma's infamous march into history know exactly what the president is talking about when he acknowledges that "the march is not yet over." He knows and they know that the march is never over in America and that so many bridges from Selma to Ferguson and beyond are left to cross.

This may appear to be a strange sentiment when uttered by a president whose ascendance to the White House would have been hard to foresee for anyone on either side of the bridge's divide 50 years ago. If they had known that the future president was then a 4- year-old son of a Kenyan economist and a white Kansan anthropology student living in Hawaii, they would've lost their minds at the strangeness of it all.

None could have imagined in 1965 that we'd now be in the third year of such a historically unlikely president's second term, but the march is far from over. While Mr. Obama's presidency has been falsely anointed as proof by his fiercest critics that America no longer has a "race problem," he understands why so many who should know better choose to believe it.

It is true that the "whites only" signs that once dominated the American horizon are long gone, but they've been replaced by the kind of signs that can only be seen with X-ray vision. A Jim Crow mentality still shackles the hearts and minds of too many men and women who, ironically, consider it a great insult to be called racist. …

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