America’s Panorama; Viewed from a Bridge


 “…we just need to open our eyes, our ears, our hearts to know that this nation’s racial history still casts it’s long shadow upon us.”



These are great moments (via DailyKos and produced by Vox)  from President Obama’s speech from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Alabama.

For those of you like me who know less than we should about this era, this protest happened 50 years ago last Saturday.

1965 was the pinnicle of an era that changed the policits of our nation for generations to come.  It began a change in our political parties to such an extend that many no longer recognize the parties of their youth – on both sides.

There is no way to add more to embellish the importance of Selma in words.  Let me try by dates and numbers.

July 20st, 2006 “By a Vote of 98-0, Senate Approves 25-Year Extension of Voting Rights Act

June 24th, 2013 “The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

June 25th 2013 to today – no action has been taken to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision.  Something which no Senator could vote against in 2006, our Congress cannot today pass.

Selma, AL and 1965 in a tiny bit of context…

March 7th, 1965.  The march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  Bloody Sunday.

May 26th, 1965.  The Voting Rights Act passes the Senate, July 9th it passes the House with an amendment.  After negotiations the Congress sends a bill to President Johnson.

August 6th, 1965. The VRA was signed into law by a Southern Democratic President, forever changing U.S. politics.

…. (and how soon after the VRA is something I did not realize until recently)…

August 11th, 1965.  The Watts riots began.  This backlash fueled the candidacies of Richard Nixon and a new brand of Republican politics which now commands 64% of the white male vote nationwide.

So 2015 will be a year for us to contemplate where we were 50 years ago and how that compares to where we are today and what course adjustments we need to make.

If that wasn’t enough, we’ve also been recognizing 150 years since the Civil War for the past 5 years.  April 9th, 2015 will be the sesquicentennial of Lee’s final battle and the South’s final surrender at Appomattox Court House.  For those of you who have some ear time while doing the dishes or garden work, I’d highly recommend David Blight’s Yale Open Course on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

(*) Resources:


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