Selma commemorating Bloody Sunday with Democrats

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Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club gather near the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma

Members of the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club gather near the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 1, 2020, before a march including Democratic presidential candidates to commemorate the 55th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” when white police attacked black marchers in Selma. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

SELMA, Ala. (AP) — Democratic primary candidates were drawn to Alabama on Sunday to mark the 55th anniversary of a major event in the Civil Rights Movement.

In 1965, many African Americans in the South faced racist roadblocks when voting. Civil rights leaders planned a series of Selma-to-Montgomery marches to demonstrate for voting rights. At the first, on March 7, 1965, state troopers teargassed the unarmed demonstrators and beat them with billy clubs, shocking the nation.

Public backlash helped pass the Voting Rights Act later that year.

Democratic presidential candidates are gathering in Selma to commemorate and court black voters ahead of Super Tuesday. Former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed a historic black church.

Biden, Bloomberg, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar will also cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the Bloody Sunday violence took place. Two days after Bloody Sunday, marchers led by Martin Luther King Jr. had a standoff on the bridge with state police.

Other prominent political leaders at Selma for Bloody Sunday include Stacy Abrams, Rep. John Lewis, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Bernie Sanders is not scheduled to appear, although both he and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were in Selma for the 2019 commemoration. Sanders was famously arrested in 1963 for taking part in a civil rights demonstration.

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