50 years ago, John Lewis and Amelia Boynton Robinson bravely faced Alabama State troopers and local police at the tip of the Edmund Pettus Bridge where they, and other civil rights leaders, gathered to embark on a march that would change history. They were beaten bloody while national television watched in horror. Today, they took that same trek across the iconic structure, hand in hand with President Obama, Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia.
Obama, his hero John and Amelia led thousands of marchers across the bridge without the fear from 50 years ago, but their hearts filled with the same purpose: equal rights. At the end of the hike, Obama delivered an empowering speech filled with gems embedded by Dr. King’s legacy.
“What they did here will reverberate through the ages,” he said. “Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible, that love and hope can conquer hate.”
Obama ended his speech encouraging the nation to continue the fight. “Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer. Two hundred and thirty-nine years after this nation’s founding our union is not yet perfect, but we are getting closer. Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge. When it feels the road is too hard, when the torch we’ve been passed feels too heavy, we will remember these early travelers, and draw strength from their example, and hold firmly the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on [the] wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.”
View more photos from the historic event, below: