Presidential hopeful Cory Booker put out calls to defend the “dream” and Martin Luther King Jr.’s lessons while commemorating the anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” the march from Selma to Montgomery.
“It’s time for us to defend the dream,” Booker said during a keynote speech at Brown Chapel AME in Selma, Ala., according to KIIITV. “It’s time that we dare to dream again in America. That is what it takes to make America great. It is up to us to do the work that makes the dream real.”
The 2020 hopeful noted the various challenges that America faces, including the “people want to make it just about the people in the highest offices of the land. People who traffic in hatred, people in office that defend Nazis or white supremacists, people that point fingers and forget the lessons of King.”
He strongly called for individuals to not only repent for the “vitriolic words and actions of bad people,” but also “the appalling silence and inaction of good people.”
Booker was one of three other possible 2020 contenders present, including Sen. Bernie Sanders who has already entered the growing Democratic field, and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) who is still considering a run. Hillary Clinton, who won the Democratic nomination in 2016, was also present.
Booker, Brown and Clinton joined civil rights leader Jesse Jackson in a march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where “Bloody Sunday” – when peaceful protestors demonstrating in support of voting rights were brutally beaten by Alabama state troopers – took place on March 7, 1965. Sanders, according to the news station, left for a campaign event in Chicago.
Brown nodded toward the history of the marches, calling on people to understand the history of what took place at the bridge.
“We need to understand what happened here and we need to talk about it so we keep fighting on these issues,” Brown said. “It’s clear we make progress and then we fall back because of Republican attacks on voting rights.”
Booker credited the Selma march to inspiring a lawyer who helped his family buy a home in a white neighborhood after they faced repeated discriminations and refusals.
“I would not be here if it wasn’t for marchers on a bridge who inspired a man a thousand miles away in New Jersey,” he said. “The dream is under attack. You honor history by emulating it, by us recommitting ourselves to it.”