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SELMA, Ala. (AP) — Speakers at the annual commemoration of a key event in African Americans' fight for voting rights are urging Congress to resurrect the requirement for many Deep South states to get federal approval of their election laws.
The son of Martin Luther King Jr. says blood spilled on Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., helped pave the way for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But a court case also arising out of Alabama led the Supreme Court last year to effectively abolish preclearance, a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
Thousands of people gathered in Selma today to honor the 49th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," when civil rights marchers were beaten by law enforcement officers on the bridge. Outrage over the melee helped galvanize support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Speakers at the annual event, including Martin Luther King III, put the focus on the death of the preclearance provision and a slate of new voting laws, including photo voter ID requirements, being rolled out across the country.