March 3, 2019 / 1:34 PM
(Reuters) – Presidential hopeful Cory Booker told a service commemorating the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march, a turning point in the civil rights movement, that the United States is still failing many Americans, citing poverty and gun violence as constant threats.
“We live in a nation that is failing its moral obligations to its children, to its people,” Booker said in a short speech at a church near the bridge in Selma, Alabama, where civil rights activists were attacked more than half a century ago.
Nearly 600 activists marching for African-American voting rights were met on the Edmund Pettus bridge on March 7, 1965, by white state troopers who beat them with batons and sprayed them with tear gas.
Images of the violence brought attention to the cause, and President Lyndon Johnson passed the Voting Rights Act that year.
Every year, the “Bloody Sunday” anniversary is marked by demonstrators marching across the bridge, many of them singing “We Shall Overcome.”
Booker told the congregation he was proud to be in Selma to remember the history of the movement.
“But I worry now that we are at a point in our country where we see a moral vandalism that is attacking our ideals and beliefs and eroding the dream of our nation,” he said.