The Best Quotes From President Barack Obama’s Moving Speech in Selma

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/JUSTIN SULLIVAN
President Obama gave a commemorative speech in front of thousands in Selma, AL, this morning in honor of the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday." During this momentous event in Alabama, more than 600 non-violent protestors marching from Selma to Montgomery for the right to vote were attacked by state troopers.

A few highlights from the President's speech:

"In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history – the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher – met on this bridge. It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America."

"We gather here to celebrate them. We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice."

"What they did here will reverberate through the ages. Not because the change they won was preordained; not because their victory was complete; but because they proved that nonviolent change is possible; that love and hope can conquer hate."

"And yet, what could be more American than what happened in this place? What could more profoundly vindicate the idea of America than plain and humble people – the unsung, the downtrodden, the dreamers not of high station, not born to wealth or privilege, not of one religious tradition but many – coming together to shape their country’s course?"

"First and foremost, we have to recognize that one day’s commemoration, no matter how special, is not enough. If Selma taught us anything, it’s that our work is never done – the American experiment in self-government gives work and purpose to each generation."

"And that’s what the young people here today and listening all across the country must take away from this day. You are America. Unconstrained by habits and convention. Unencumbered by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be. For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, and new ground to cover, and bridges to be crossed. And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow. Because Selma shows us that America is not the project of any one person."

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As if that alone wasn't moving enough, Representative John Lewis, who marched 50 years ago, took to Twitter today to explain what it was like to be there amidst the tear gas and officers. It's worth your time to read his entire feed.
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