Civil rights activists recognized upon 50th anniversary of voting rights movement
Congressman Brian Higgins joined members of the House of Representatives in approving H.R. 431, legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the foot soldiers who participated in "Bloody Sunday," "Turnaround Tuesday," or the final Selma to Montgomery voting rights march in March of 1965, which served as a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Higgins is an original cosponsor of the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama.
In March 1965, civil rights activists led three separate marches between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, in protest against the denial of African-Americans' right to vote. As a result, in August of that year, Congress passed and President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This year marks the 50th anniversary.
In April of 2013, Higgins joined Congressman John Lewis, one of the original foot soldiers, to trace the steps of activists and recognize the bravery of those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on "Bloody Sunday."
Higgins spoke in support of the legislation on the House Floor:
"Mr. speaker, I rise today to honor those, who in the face of violent opposition, bravely stood for what was right. This March will mark the 50th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday,' 'Turnaround Tuesday' and the final Selma to Montgomery voting rights march.
"In 2013, I had the honor of joining Congressman John Lewis to visit some of these historic sites, including the Edmund Pettus Bridge where nearly 8,000 foot soldiers marched to demonstrate against the denial of African-Americans' right to vote.
"The sacrifice and perseverance of the Selma foot soldiers inspired the nation and, in August of that year, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law.
"As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, I, along with many of my colleagues, am a proud original cosponsor of H.R. 431, which would award the highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the foot soldiers of the voting rights movement.
"The bravery of the civil rights activists demonstrated half a century ago was remarkable, but we must not forget how much still needs to be done."