Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barak Obama were both in Alabama this weekend hoping to build speed for their presidential bids by gaining the support of black southern voters.
The democratic candidates were in Alabama to mark the 42nd anniversary of the Selma voting rights march, that led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. On that day in 1965, police attacked over 500 protesters with tear gas and batons as they marched from Selma to Montgomery to enforce Gov. George Wallace's ban on such demonstrations.
Both Clinton and Obama gave thanks to the bloody march on Selma saying without that pivotal moment in history, they wouldn't be campaigning today.
Obama talked about his African father who visited America and met his white mother whose ancestors once owned slaved.
"They looked at each other and they decided, 'We know that, in the world as it has been, it might not be possible for us to get together and have a child, but something is stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across the bridge. And so they got together, and Barack Obama Jr. was born," he told the crowd. "So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama," Obama added. "Don't tell me I'm not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody marched for our freedom. I'm here because y'all sacrificed for me. I stand on the shoulders of this."
Senator Clinton, the democratic front-runner, took the stage a few moments later and recognized Obama and the other minority opponents as she too gave thanks to Selma, AL.
"The Voting Rights Act gave more Americans from every corner of our nation the chance to live out their dreams. And it is the gift that keeps on giving," Clinton said. "Today it is giving Sen. Obama the chance to run for president of the United States. And by its logic and spirit, it is giving the same chance to Gov. Bill Richardson, a Hispanic, and, yes, it is giving me that chance, too." She added, "I know where my chance came from, and I am grateful to all of you who gave it to me."
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), one of the leaders of the Selma march, said the competition for black voters between the senators is "a very difficult position to be in, but it's a good position to be in." "We have choices," Lewis added.
With still over a year and a half left until the presidential election, the democrats are hoping to look like a unified team while presenting many options to take back the White House in 2008.