By Montgomery Advertiser
SELMA, Ala. – Rep. John Lewis, who was at-tacked with tear gas and police’s billy clubs on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, made an unexpected, inspiring appearance at the 55th anniversary remembrance of the protest, leading marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday.
Lewis, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, was not expected to be at the event until an announcement from his office the morning of the final day of Jubilee, the annual events marking the voting rights protests in Selma.
“I thought I was going to die on this bridge. But somehow and some way, god almighty helped me here,” he said of what he experienced 55 years ago.
Lewis then told the crowd on the bridge to keep fighting today.
“We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize,” he said. “We must go out and vote like we never ever voted before. Some people gave more than a little blood. Some gave their very lives.
” Lewis’ appearance overshadowed the presidential candidates posturing for Alabama’s voters allegiance ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday. All of the major candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination except Bernie Sanders were expected to be in Selma over the weekend. Former Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off his decisive South Carolina primary victory, spoke at Brown Chapel, as did Michael Bloomberg.
Biden earned the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and U.S. Sen. Doug Jones before Biden’s remarks.
Bloomberg was invited to speak during Selma’s Jubilee, an annual event marking “Bloody Sunday” when hundreds of protesters were beaten and battered while marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965.
Bloomberg gave an anecdote about how as a young Boy Scout he helped walk Amelia Earhart’s mother to the polls, an instance that resonated with him because as a woman, she had not always had the right to vote.
“There are so many still being denied the right to vote simply because of the color of their skin,” Bloomberg said. “The voter suppression did not end. If it had, Stacey Abrams would be Gov. Abrams.” Bloomberg hammered hard on voter suppression, as did Biden and keynote speaker Abrams.
Bloomberg hammered hard on voter suppression, as did Biden and keynote speaker Abrams.