Pictured in the middle is Deepak Bhargava, Executive Director of the Center for Community Change.
Yesterday’s focus of the Selma-to-Montgomery march was immigration rights and it was breathtaking to see the march swell with a contingent of 1,000 extremely diverse group of marchers. And at the front of the march, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement banner!
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis then addressed the growing throng at the start of the march along with Rev. Al Sharpton and several national and local labor and civil rights leaders. Themes of black and brown unity took hold as black and Latino leaders intermingled along the march route, sharing chants and songs, chatting and learning about each other.
After the march, we gathered for a rally at St. Jude’s Educational Institute, where the 1965 marchers gathered after enduring a trek filled with violence and imminent danger. We were inspired and fired up by remarks from Rev. Sharpton, Deepak Bhargava, FIRM leaders, state Sen. Billy Beasley, the author of a bill that would repeal HB56, and many more.
When Mary Bauer of the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had blocked two more key elements of HB56, Alabama’s vehemently anti-immigrant law, the entire place roared with life and hope.
Yesterday, a young undocumented student thanked me personally for being there in Alabama. He said, “You being here reminds me that I’m not alone.”
This student said his family left Alabama after HB56 went into effect, but he stayed behind to finish his education. I told him that he wasn’t alone. And in addition to me, there is the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, FIRM, organized labor, the broader civil rights community, and thousands of caring Americans of all races, ethnicities and immigration status inspired by his courage and fighting with him.
Today, we’ll march the final four miles of the march to the Alabama State Capitol Building, and we’ll be demanding the repeal of HB56, the repeal of voter suppression laws and calling for the protection of workers’ and human rights. March organizers expect thousands. The forecast suggests rain, but rays of hope will be coming from those marching in Alabama.