Zerlina Maxwell, a leading political analyst, travelled on Air Force One with President Obama on a trip to Selma to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Writing about the experience for Essence Magazine, Zerlina notes that whilst some “cynics may declare that ‘nothing has changed,’ the sentiment didn’t seem to be consistent with reality as they flew to what used to be the heart of American racial terror.”
Although it is has been claimed that American racial progress is “especially tenuous,” with racial bias still embedded in their institutions, Zerlina goes on to remark that “one could not question that a seismic racial transformation happened in the last 50 years as we watched the nation’s first Black president’s motorcade ride through Selma.”
President Obama talked about the symbolism of that moment: “I think that there’s no doubt that my election was a significant moment in the country’s racial history. I say that with all humility. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been somebody else. But a barrier was broken…And I’d like to think that that will have a useful, lasting effect in terms of people’s attitudes about who can do what, and changes people’s images of what’s possible for any child in America.”
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