The Rise and Fall of Political
Parties in America
ON SUNDAY, MARCH 4, 2007, leaders of the African American community gathered in two churches in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the forty-second anniversary of the attempted march to Montgomery across the Edmund Pettis Bridge by a group of civil rights activists led by the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. That nonviolent march was met with police dogs, batons, and fire hoses, and its violent ending so horrified the nation that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed within five months of what came to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” Since those historic events of March 1965, two generations of Americans had been born into a country profoundly reshaped by the courage and cause that the congregations had come to celebrate and honor.
Gathering in the same churches that were used on that infamous Sunday, Brown Chapel AME and First Baptist Church of Selma, were living heroes of the nation's civil rights movement, including Congressman John Lewis, who was at the front of the Selma marchers on the bridge in 1965, and those who benefited from their leadership, such as Congressman Artur Davis from Alabama's Seventh Congressional District that encompasses Selma. The congregations each had the privilege of hearing from one of the two leading contenders for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination—Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Senator Clinton is a member of the Baby Boom Generation, most of whose members were in their teens and twenties at the time of the Selma march.This dynamic and idealistic generation forced the country to confront many of its fundamental beliefs about equality, freedom, and opportunity throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Senator Clinton used her remarks to trace the lineage of Selma's “spirit and logic” to the opportunity for