Alabama’s unjust past will effectively be connected to its unjust present next week, when immigrant rights advocates in Alabama join forces with Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and a slate of other national groups on the Selma to Montgomery commemoration march.
Beginning this Sunday, March 4th, civil rights, religious, labor, and immigration reform leaders will walk from Selma to Montgomery in order to honor the historic 1965 Selma voting rights march.
Thursday, March 8th, is scheduled to be an immigration-themed day within the march, when participants will draw attention to Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56, and how it perpetuates many of the historic crimes that Alabama has fought for decades to move away from.
Whether it’s racial profiling, harassment, or state-sanctioned discrimination, Alabama and HB 56 have “turned [Latinos] into the new Negro,” says Federal District Court Judge U.W. Clemon in a poignant video from Chris Weitz. The video is entitled “What Alabama Knows About Civil Rights” and discusses how sharply Alabama has regressed on civil rights by passing HB 56.
“We came from this,” seethes organizer William Anderson in the video (watch below). “We thought we moved past this in Birmingham. At least, we thought we did. Because it’s happening again.”
In 1965, at the peak of the Civil Rights movement, freedom fighters organized a series of marches from Selma to Montgomery—a distance of 50 miles—to draw attention to the moment and the cause. The marches were perilous—the first march saw 600 protestors attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas, an event now known as “Bloody Sunday.” But they drew the world’s attention to Alabama, shone a spotlight on the violence and grave injustice, and changed public opinion about the Civil Rights movement. After watching coverage of Bloody Sunday, President Johnson met with Alabama Governor George Wallace to discuss the situation in his state.
The immigration component of the march will begin at the 120 mile marker on Highway 80 in Alabama at 9 AM on Thursday, March 8. You can view a map of the route here. The five day march will end with a rally at the Alabama State Capitol on March 9.