The President

Biden in Selma: Voting rights remain 'under assault'

“The conservative Supreme Court has gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years,” said President Biden.

Biden in Selma: Voting rights remain 'under assault'
Patrick Semansky / AP

U.S. President Joe Biden arrived in Selma, Alabama, to commemorate one of the key turning points in the civil rights movement, "Bloody Sunday." 

58 years ago, about 600 peaceful demonstrators were brutally beaten by police while attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in their march to Montgomery. Among those activists was the late Congressman John Lewis

This event fueled the civil rights movement, and eight days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Five months later, it was signed into law.  

President Biden took this opportunity to highlight the importance of remembering “Bloody Sunday” so that history is not erased, while trying to make the case that the fight for voting rights remains integral to economic justice and civil rights for Black Americans. 

“The right to vote, to have your vote counted, is the threshold of democracy and liberty…This fundamental right remains under assault,” President Biden said. Adding that the conservative Supreme Court and “a wave of states and dozens and dozens of anti-voting laws fueled by the ‘Big Lie' and the election deniers now elected to office," have “gutted the Voting Rights Act over the years.”

How voting rights have changed since Martin Luther King's push
How voting rights have changed since Martin Luther King's push

How voting rights have changed since Martin Luther King's push

Voting options are narrowing, and the voting process is getting tougher as many states put tighter restrictions in place.


On March 7, 2021 – the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday”– President Biden signed an executive order directing the federal government to boost registration, mail-in voting, and promote poll watching. However, a few months later, President Biden's John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would crack down on gerrymandering, campaign finance, and remove hurdles to voting, passed in the House but failed in the Senate. 

“We know that we must get the votes in Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act. I made it clear. I will not let a filibuster obstruct the sacred right to vote,” said President Biden.  

The visit comes after a tornado-spawning storm system inflicted heavy damage on Selma back in January. The president had approved a disaster declaration and during his speech he reiterated that the federal government is committed to covering 100% of the removal. 

“We're also paying for temporary housing, home repairs, supporting local businesses, small businesses,” said President Biden. “We provided $8 million in recovery and we're just getting started on rebuilding efforts. And we're here. We'll be here as long as it takes.” 

Following his remarks, President Biden took part in the annual walk over the Edmund Pettus Bridge accompanied by Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Rep. Terri Sewell.