Rep. Lawrence: Remember Selma, but continue the fight

This year we remember the importance of the great marches on Selma, Alabama, that took place 50 years ago in 1965. I’m privileged to be part of a delegation of members of Congress who will visit the historic Alabama site next month to commemorate the anniversary of the seminal events.

Being a Detroit native, I witnessed the struggle for civil rights and the role it played in shaping our nation. As a young girl, I watched on television and witnessed first-hand the impact that heroic fellow Detroiters played in supporting the struggle for equal rights. They included Congressmen Charles C. Diggs Jr. and John Conyers Jr., as well the Rev. C.L. Franklin of New Bethel Baptist Church and labor leader Robert “Buddy” Battle and Horace Sheffield Jr.

As we look back and continue to march forward, let’s remember Viola Liuzzo. The mother of five young children, who happened to be white, Luizzo was a part-time student at Wayne State University in 1965. She felt compelled to trek to Selma in the wake of the “Bloody Sunday” attempt at marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Luizzo participated in the successful Selma to Montgomery marches. Driving back from a trip shuttling fellow activists to the Montgomery airport, she was fatally shot by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the time of his assassination, she was only 39 years old.

Fast forward to 2015. Much has occurred since the spirited marches that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, that seminal act is under attack. In far too many communities across our great nation, registered voters are confronted by a variety of unfortunate measures. They include photo ID regulations and baseless allegations of voter fraud.

As we continue to fight to protect the Voting Rights Act, let’s remember those who fought — and in some cases, died — for the right of all Americans to vote. Let’s ensure that those who came before us have not done so in vain.

Congresswoman Brenda L. Lawrence,

D-Southfield, 14th District