AFT PRESIDENT Randi Weingarten and Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson, along with AFT vice presidents and members from across the country, were among the thousands who gathered in Alabama in March to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the Selma to Montgomery march and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. At more than 40 different events, they praised racial progress and addressed the remaining challenges and inequities facing the nation. And they joined civil rights leaders, elected officials and community members in a commemorative crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
“As I look out at this crowd, I see people of all races, colors, creeds and sexual orientations,” Weingarten said. “Here we are, united together, committed to change, and ready to strengthen our democracy for this generation and generations to come.” She urged the crowd at the Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church to take action against the egregious attacks on civil rights and worker rights taking place today, 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis linked arms with more than 500 civil rights activists, teachers, community members, faith leaders and union leaders for the historic march.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed just weeks after Bloody Sunday, became one of the most successful civil rights laws in American history. But a recent resurgence of policies to limit early voting, increase barriers to voting and dilute the strength of minority voters through redistricting threatens those gains. The AFT continues to fight for federal legislation that would restore the Voting Rights Act and fully protect voters from discrimination.