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U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who died in 2020, stands on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., in between television interviews on Feb. 14, 2015. PHOTO: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Civil rights advocates are preparing to mark the first anniversary of Selma's "Bloody Sunday" without the late Rep. John Lewis, and as the first anniversary of George Floyd's death approaches. 

Why it matters: A three-day virtual event seeks to acknowledge aging civil rights activists who pushed the nation to expand voting rights in 1965. It also comes as a new generation of advocates fights against voter suppression proposals and pushes police reforms.

  • For nearly three decades, Lewis and other civil rights veterans crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge out of Selma, Ala., annually to commemorate the March 7, 1965, violent attack on peaceful marchers by police.
  • A state trooper used a billy club to crack the skull of then-25-year-old Lewis, a former president of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who tried to lead 600 or so marchers to Montgomery over voting rights.
  • Lewis died of pancreatic cancer in July 2020 after serving 17 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The images of the brutal beating of unarmed demonstrators, aired on national television, sparked national outrage similar to the anger from the viral video of a police officer killing George Floyd a half-century later.

The details: The free 56th Bridge Crossing Jubilee will be conducted online because of COVID-19 restrictions and will feature testimonies from original footsoldiers who were with Lewis.

  • Drew Glover, the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee principal coordinator, said the event will also feature step shows, musical performances and panels about today's debates over voting rights and police reforms.
  • The event will end with a virtual-reality crossing of the bridge to place attendees at the spot where marchers crossed and were later beaten, Glover told Axios.
  • Other civil rights leaders, like Rev. William Barber II of the Poor People's Campaign and United Farm Worker co-founder Dolores Huerta, are scheduled to join.

What they're saying: "Now the question is: Are we going to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act? Are we just going to have another meeting and sing a few songs and say a prayer and go home? I would hope not," Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Axios.

  • The proposal seeks to restore full protections of the original, bipartisan Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed after Bloody Sunday.
  • Clyburn said he hopes the virtual events "rekindle the flame and legacy of John Lewis" for a new generation of advocates.

Flashback: "At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man's unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama," President Lyndon Johnson told a special joint session of Congress after civil rights demonstrators were attacked.

  • "Their cause must be our cause too. Because it's not just Negroes, but really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome."
  • Johnson's use of a civil rights rallying-cry brought Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to tears. The 1965 Voting Rights Act was passed months later.

Don't forget: The Edmund Pettus Bridge is named after Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general, U.S. senator, and leader of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan.

Go deeper

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.