WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Cory Booker D-N.J. and Jeff Sessions, R-A.L. today introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to participants of the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
“We are forever indebted to those brave Americans-men and women of diverse age, color, and creed-who gathered in Selma to march on the frontlines in the fight for equality and justice,” said Senator Booker. “As an American who stands on the shoulders of their courageous sacrifice, I am proud to honor these unsung heroes who victoriously overcame bigotry and hate by walking in unwavering love and peace.”
“It is fitting that we honor the courage and determination of the civil rights marchers at Selma 50 years ago,” said Senator Sessions. “This was a truly pivotal event in the drive to achieve the right to vote for all Americans—a right which had systematically been denied. This action was historic and dealt a major blow to the deliberate discrimination that existed, producing a positive and lasting change for America. Those who stood tall for freedom on that fateful day deserve to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.”
The Congressional Gold Medal would recognize the “Foot Soldiers” who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March during March of 1965, which served as a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that historic legislation. The medal will be permanently displayed in the Selma Interpretative Center.
Original co-sponsors include: Sens. Schumer D-N.Y., Baldwin D-W.I., Boxer D-C.A., Donnelly D-I.N., Alexander R-T.N., Ayotte R-N.H., Barrasso R-W.Y., Blumenthal D-C.T., Blunt R-M.O., Burr R-N.C., Capito R-W.V., Coats R-I.N., Cochran R-M.S., Collins R-M.E., Corker R-T.N., Cotton R-A.R., Cruz R-T.X., Daines R-M.T., Durbin D-I.L., Feinstein D-C.A., Franken D-M.N., Gillibrand D-N.Y., Hatch R-U.T., Hirono D-H.I., Hoeven R-N.D., Isakson R-G.A., Johnson R-W.I., Kaine D-V.A., Klobuchar D-M.N., Leahy D-V.T., Menendez D-N.J., Merkley D-O.R., Mikulski D-M.D., Murkowski R-A.K., Murphy D-C.T., Murray D-W.A., Nelson D-F.L., Perdue R-G.A., Peters D-M.I., Portman R-O.H., Reid D-N.V., Risch R-I.D., Rubio R-F.L., Sanders D-V.T., Sasse R-N.E., Scott R-S.C., Sessions R-A.L., Shaheen D-N.H., Shelby R-A.L., Warren D-M.A., Whitehouse D-R.I., Wicker R-M.S., Wyden D-O.R., Heinrich D-N.M., Bennett D-C.O., Brown D-O.H., Cardin D-M.D., Coons D-D.E., Cornyn R-T.X., Inhofe R-O.K., McCaskill D-M.O., McConnell R-K.Y., Reed D-R.I., Schatz D-H.I., Stabenow D-M.I., and Thune R-S.D.
Representatives Martha Roby (AL-2) and Terri Sewell (AL-7) have introduced similar language in the House of Representatives and were joined by the entire Alabama House delegation as original cosponsors. The House bill, which has a total of 298 cosponsors, passed on February 11 by a vote of 420 to 0.