A gathering in Selma honors the gains of old--and registers new expectations for the Obama era.





SELMA, Ala. -- Across this largely African-American city, there are signs of hope. Faces light up at the mere mention of President Obama. Even the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where Alabama state troopers attacked defenseless civil rights demonstrators on "Bloody Sunday" 44 years ago this month, seems somehow to lead to a better place – if not yet to the promised land.

In Selma this past weekend, people gathered to honor the leaders and achievements of the civil rights era of the 1960s, paying homage to a movement that, many here say, laid the foundation for an African-American man to become president of the United States less that half a century later.

Mr. Obama's election is again focusing attention on the unfinished business of racial reconciliation, says the Rev. Clete Kiley, president of the Faith and Politics Institute, which led the weekend tribute that included about 30 members of Congress.

"A page has been turned," he says. "But America has still not had the conversation about race it needs to have.... Our goal [in taking members of Congress to the churches and other landmarks associated with the civil rights era] is to get beyond nostalgia ... and to ask, 'Where do we go from here?' "

It is the ninth time since 1998 that the institute has organized such a trip to coincide with Selma's annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

comments powered by Disqus
History News Network