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As Bloody Sunday Grows in Significance Across the World, Organizers Want to Preserve the Integrity

ATLANTA - When iconic civil rights leaders from around the globe gather in Selma next week for The Bridge Crossing Jubilee, the largest annual gathering of civil, human and voting rights activists, Dr. Charles Steele, Jr., president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), today said one line of business to be addressed by organizers is protecting the integrity of the event.

“Bloody Sunday occurred on Sunday,” said Dr. Steele, who heads the civil rights organization co-founded and first led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which is one of the original organizers of the historic March 7, 1965 event. “Bloody Sunday is sacred, because it educates the world about the racist system in America that treated Blacks less than human and prevented Black Americans from voting. The spotlight was on the Alabama state troopers who brutally attacked marchers as they proceeded to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge for a 54-mile march to the state capitol in Montgomery. It was an ugly scene, and it occurred in Selma on that Sunday. We embrace the growth and the enthusiasm that comes with growth, but the integrity of the event cannot be altered. This will be addressed when we convene.”

Leaders such as Dr. King’s eldest son, Martin L. King III, Civil Rights Icon Rev. Jesse Jackson; U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock; Congresswomen Maxine Waters, Nikema Williams, and Terri Sewell; U.S. Assistant Attorney for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke, and NAACP President Derrick Johnson are confirmed to participate in festivities. President Joe Biden has been invited, and organizers hope he will become the fourth sitting president to attend the bridge crossing event.

The Jubilee begins on Thursday, March 2, 2023, and it concludes on Monday, March 6, 2023, but the highlight of the festivities is the reenactment across the bridge on Sunday.

“Some people of influence want to alter the event and commemorate the bridge crossing on Saturday and in another location, but we do not support any changes,” Dr. Steele said. “Bloody Sunday occurred on Sunday and in Selma. Bloody Sunday is sacred and there will be no changes.”

Attempts to alter the Bloody Sunday event comes at a time when the civil rights movement is at a crossroads. While civil rights leaders see some victories, Kamala Harris, becoming the first Black/Indian American vice president, Ketanji Brown Jackson, becoming the first Black woman U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Raphael Warnock, the first Black U.S. Senator from Georgia and a record number of Black Americans being elected to Congress, they face some legal actions that threaten to derail voting rights, affirmative action and other civil rights gains.

They also recognize that many of the original leaders, who participated in Bloody Sunday are now deceased or they have reached an age where their ability to participate in the event is limited. Meanwhile, the significance and growth of the event has led to new allies and leaders from a modern and more diverse civil rights movement who seek to weld their influence. Dr. Steele said the biracial, multi religious movement embraces all, but the integrity of the event must stand into perpetuity.

“We cannot change what we started 58 years ago, because we see daily that the struggle for voting rights, human rights and racial equality continues in 2023,” Dr. Steele said. “We must protect the integrity of this moment, just like we protect the sacredness of all atrocities around the world. Bloody Sunday should always be a vivid reminder of America’s dark past but inspire people of all backgrounds and religions to march in harmony striving for a brighter future where all of us will be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin.”

ABOUT THE SCLC: Established in 1957, the SCLC, whose first president was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is an international organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans: north, south, east, and west. Its sphere of influence and interests has become international in scope because the human rights movement transcends national boundaries. For additional information about the SCLC, visit



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