President Joe Biden to visit Selma for annual bridge crossing


President Joe Biden speaks about the war in Ukraine in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Joe Biden will travel to Selma on Sunday to commemorate the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the White House announced Tuesday morning.

Community members and leaders march across the Edmund Pettus bridge annually to remember the violence that took place there on March 7, 1965.

That day, a crowd of hundreds, including civil rights icon John Lewis, walked across the bridge to peacefully protest for the right to vote. State troopers met the activists with violence, brutally beating and tear-gassing them in an attempt to stop the march. The day became known as Bloody Sunday, and as it was broadcast on national television, it shocked the nation into the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush attended the anniversary event in the past, along with other notable figures like former First Lady Michelle Obama, Rev. Al Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Last year, at the first anniversary event celebrated in-person since the COVID pandemic began, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke before leading the march alongside the families of John Lewis and Martin Luther King Jr.Biden’s planned attendance comes six weeks after a massive tornado tore through Selma on Jan. 12, destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. Almost immediately after the tornado hit, Biden granted a “major disaster declaration” for the state, allowing the release of federal funds for recovery, and earlier this month, he authorized an increase in those available funds.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who is from Selma, said in a statement Tuesday that she invited Biden to attend the 58th Bloody Sunday anniversary event and is “thrilled” that he accepted the invitation.

“As Selma continues to recover from the January 12 storms, President Biden’s presence will send a clear message that our community is not alone and shows that the federal government will continue to be a partner in rebuilding Selma and Dallas County,” Sewell said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming the president to my hometown as we reflect on the sacrifices of the foot soldiers in the name of equality and justice for all.”

The White House said that there will be “additional details to come” about Biden’s visit on Sunday.