National and state political figures are fighting a turf war over the events next month marking the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march in Alabama. President Obama is planning to visit Selma on March 7, and he will be joined by a delegation of about 65 U.S. House and Senate members in a ceremonial march across Edmund Pettus Bridge, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. But Alabama politicians, led by Sen. Hank Sanders, a Selma Democrat, are planning their own memorial march the following day, March 8.
Sanders has asked Obama to combine the two events and join his march on March 8. But John Lewis, the U.S. representative from Georgia who marched in the original event, said the locally organized annual bridge march has drawn “some national figures…that take away from the dignity of the members of Congress coming to reflect. We don't want it to become a circus.” Sanders said he is happy that Obama and the congressional delegation will visit Selma. He added, “But if they couldn't have the entire front line to themselves and they decided to hold a separate march on Saturday, then there is something wrong with that.”