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Biden: Selma beatings shaped him, nation

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During his remarks at two events Sunday in Selma, Vice President Joe Biden mentioned his regret for not being a part of the civil rights movements in Selma and other parts of the Deep South.

Sunday, Biden had the chance to visit the iconic Edmund Pettus Bridge, the point where marchers were attacked on March 7, 1965 and beaten by law enforcement in their attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery. That March day would prove to become one of the key powder keg moments of the civil rights movement and is known as Bloody Sunday.

Locked arm-in-arm with U.S. Rep John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the marchers beaten on Bloody Sunday, Biden joined in spiritual songs and listened as Lewis stopped the march at the point where he and others were attacked, detailing the vivid accounts of how he was beaten, where others were trampled by horses.

"When we got to the highest point on this bridge, down below we saw a sea of blue of what was the Alabama State Troopers," Lewis said. "We kept walking, we came within hearing distance of the State Troopers. A man said, ‘I am Maj. John Cloud of the Alabama State Troopers. This is an unlawful march and will not be allowed to continue. I give you three minutes to disperse and return to your homes or to your church.

"Hosea Williams then said ‘Major, please give us a moment to kneel and pray,' and then the major said ‘Troopers advance,'" Lewis continued. "You then saw these men putting on their gas masks. They came toward us, beating us with nightsticks or whips, trampled us with horses and then released the tear gas."

Lewis said 17 marchers were hurt, many of them treated at Good Samaritan Hospital. One of the nuns, name unknown, who treated the marchers was seated in a wheelchair just 10 feet away from Lewis as he recounted the day.

On Biden's other arm was U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), who is a native of Selma, and the first black woman elected to Congress from Alabama. She was recently elected to her second term.

Surrounded by other dignitaries, including members of the Congressional leadership, U.S. Senators and civil rights leaders such as Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton, Biden joined in as the crowd sang, "We Shall Overcome."

An estimated 15,000 marchers took part in Sunday's crossing, a crowd Selma Police officials said was larger than in years past.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Pool Feed Report by Tim Reeves of the Selma Times-Journal

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