comments_image Comments

Biden marches with US civil rights leaders in Alabama

US Vice President Joe Biden speaks on February 20, 2013 in Washington, DC
US Vice President Joe Biden speaks on February 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. Biden has marched with black civil rights leaders in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the "Bloody Sunday" beating of voting rights marchers 48 years ago.

Vice President Joe Biden marched with black civil rights leaders in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the "Bloody Sunday" beating of voting rights marchers 48 years ago.

The annual gathering took on added importance this year among civil liberties groups concerned with a voting rights case in the US Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the top court appeared ready to overturn, at least in part, the 1965 Voting Rights Act that guards against racial discrimination in US states with a segregationist past.

State police assaulted the original marchers in 1965, who were urging Congress to pass the law, which struck down rules that barred African Americans from voting and ended white majority rule in the US South.

Remembering that day, Vice President Biden said his consciousness was shaped by television footage of the beatings by state troopers.

"We saw in stark relief the rank hatred, discrimination and violence that still existed in large parts of the nation," he said at the event, highlighting the area's importance during the US civil rights era.

Biden marched arm-in-arm with Democratic lawmaker Terri Sewell, a Selma native and the first black woman elected to the US Congress from Alabama. She has been reelected to a second term.

Together, the estimated 15,000 marchers, including Reverend Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton, sang "We Shall Overcome."

At issue at the Supreme Court is the law's Section 5, which requires nine mainly southern states, and local governments in seven other states, to obtain Justice Department approval for any changes in their electoral codes.

The case follows January's re-election of the first black US president, Barack Obama, which critics call evidence that the law is unnecessary.

Share