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Biden leads re-enactment of voting rights march

  • Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden, center, leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. From left: Selma Mayor George Evans, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Biden, Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden, center, leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. From left: Selma Mayor George Evans, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Biden, Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.,  lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery.(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery.(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addresses those who gathered for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addresses those who gathered for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden, right, applauds as U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., hugs U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., after introducing him in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Lewis was about to make remarks prior to the Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when Alabama State Troopers beat civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. At left is State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma and Selma Mayor George Evans. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden, right, applauds as U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., hugs U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., after introducing him in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Lewis was about to make remarks prior to the Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when Alabama State Troopers beat civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. At left is State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma and Selma Mayor George Evans. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrives in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Holder and Vice President Joe Biden addressed thousands who gathered for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrives in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Holder and Vice President Joe Biden addressed thousands who gathered for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hugs Rev. Al Sharpton in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. At left is Rev. Jesse Jackson. Holder and Vice President Joe Biden addressed thousands who gathered for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hugs Rev. Al Sharpton in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. At left is Rev. Jesse Jackson. Holder and Vice President Joe Biden addressed thousands who gathered for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., talks with those gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013.  Thousands crossed the bridge behind Lewis and other lawmakers on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., talks with those gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Thousands crossed the bridge behind Lewis and other lawmakers on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., points to where he and others were beaten 48 years ago when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a civil rights march in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. At rear is Vice President Joe Biden. At left is U/S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Jesse Jackson is second from left. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., points to where he and others were beaten 48 years ago when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a civil rights march in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. At rear is Vice President Joe Biden. At left is U/S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Jesse Jackson is second from left. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.,  lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery.(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery.(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

  • Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden, center, leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. From left: Selma Mayor George Evans, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Biden, Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.,  lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery.(AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addresses those who gathered for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden, right, applauds as U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., hugs U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., after introducing him in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Lewis was about to make remarks prior to the Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when Alabama State Troopers beat civil rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. At left is State Sen. Hank Sanders, D-Selma and Selma Mayor George Evans. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrives in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Holder and Vice President Joe Biden addressed thousands who gathered for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hugs Rev. Al Sharpton in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. At left is Rev. Jesse Jackson. Holder and Vice President Joe Biden addressed thousands who gathered for the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., talks with those gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013.  Thousands crossed the bridge behind Lewis and other lawmakers on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., points to where he and others were beaten 48 years ago when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a civil rights march in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. At rear is Vice President Joe Biden. At left is U/S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Jesse Jackson is second from left. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.,  lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery.(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

The vice president and black leaders commemorating a famous civil rights march yesterday said efforts to diminish the impact of African-Americans’ votes haven’t stopped in the years since the 1965 Voting Rights Act added millions to Southern voter rolls.

More than 5,000 people followed Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Georgia, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers – including a young Lewis – by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South.

Biden, the first sitting vice president to participate in the annual re-enactment, said nothing shaped his consciousness more than watching TV footage of the beatings. “We saw in stark relief the rank hatred, discrimination and violence that still existed in large parts of the nation,” he said.

Biden said marchers “broke the back of the forces of evil,” but that challenges to voting rights continue today with restrictions on early voting and voter registration drives and enactment of voter ID laws where no voter fraud has been shown.

“We will never give up or give in,” Lewis told marchers.

Jesse Jackson said yesterday’s event had a sense of urgency because the U.S. Supreme Court heard a request Wednesday by a mostly white Alabama county to strike down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act.

“We’ve had the right to vote for 48 years, but they’ve never stopped trying to diminish the impact of the votes,” he said.

Referring to the Voting Rights Act, the Rev. Al Sharpton said: “We are not here for a commemoration. We are here for a continuation.”

The Supreme Court is weighing Shelby County’s challenge to a portion of the law that requires states with a history of racial discrimination, mostly in the Deep South, to get approval from the Justice Department before implementing any changes in election laws. That includes everything from new voting districts to voter ID laws.

Attorneys for Shelby County argued that the pre-clearance requirement is outdated in a state where one-fourth of the legislature is black. But Jackson predicted the South will return to gerrymandering and more at-large elections if the Supreme Court voids part of the law.

Attorney General Eric Holder, the defendant in Shelby County’s suit, told marchers that the South is far different than it was in 1965 but is not yet at the point where the most important part of the Voting Rights Act can be dismissed as unnecessary.

One of the NAACP attorneys who argued the case, Debo Adegbile, said when Congress renewed the Voting Rights Act in 2006, it understood that the act makes sure minority inclusion is considered up front.

“It reminds us to think consciously about how we can include all our citizens in democracy. That is as important today as it was in 1965,” he said.

Adegbile said the continued need for the law was shown in 2011 when undercover recordings from a bribery investigation at the Alabama legislature included one white legislator referring to blacks as “aborigines” and other white legislators laughing.

“This was 2011. This was not 1965,” he said.

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