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The annual commemoration of the historic civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama is taking on a new—albeit deeply related—cause today, as marchers highlight immigration, voting rights, and the need to repeal Alabama’s anti-immigrant law HB 56.
Members of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Hispanic Federation, League of United Latin American Citizens, and the National Council of La Raza are among the participants in today’s segment of the march, which so far has drawn the young and old, civil rights movement veterans and newborns, SEIU international vice president Eliseo Medina, Rev. Al Sharpton, Ethel Kennedy, Valerie Jarrett, and actor Tyrese Gibson (among many others).
“We are fighting for the same issue that our brothers and sisters were fighting 47 years ago,” Hector Sanchez, the Executive Director of LCLAA, said to Kansas City infoZine.
Here are some other things marchers have had to say:
“It’s the same fight,” said Williabelle Lee, a protestor from the original 1965 march who is making the trek again this week, who says she understands the frustration of not being able to fully be an American.
Eliseo Medina, earlier in the week, said that the joining of forces between blacks, Latinos, and Asians has long been overdue, because they suffer the same “terrible wages, unemployment issues, the foreclosure crisis, attacks on voting rights…really, what I see with this is a long-term strategy for our communities. Being able to work together, to come up with an agenda for the future.”
According to Lindsey Lunford, a senior at Tuskegee University:
“We forgot our past and now it seems we’re trying to repeat it. I see people out here marching for immigrant rights, for voting rights. We’re all together here because we realize that we are together in our fight for freedom…We’re not just walking because of our own problems or to reenact the original march. We’re marching because the same rights that were threatened in 1965 are being threatened today.”
Juan Velasquez is a recent foreign service and international politics graduate of Georgetown University whose family immigrated to the US form Colombia when he was 14 years old. Undocumented, he was recently granted a deferment on deportation:
“This is really close to me because I am a DREAMer. It will highlight the plight of a segment of the population, that not only has been marginalized, but now it is demonized… It shows the intersection of injustice. It brings the community together, and it links the African American community with the Latino community to show that we’re battling the same oppression.”
And from Janet Murguia, president of NCLR:
“Civil rights today means pushing back on laws like HB-56. It is important for us to recognize that the civil rights community has embraced our immigrant brothers and sisters. They have understood that this represents a fundamental setback for all Americans.”