Selma Church Congregants Turn Their Backs To Michael Bloomberg

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Written by Ann Brown
A group of churchgoers on March 1st, turned their backs to former NY Mayor Bloomberg as he addressed the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama. People turn their backs on Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg as he speaks at Brown Chapel AME church, Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Selma , Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

It was to be a day to remember the 55th anniversary of the historic March on Selma, or “Bloody Sunday”  as it came to be known. But not only did some use it as a day of remembrance but also a day to take a political stance.

A group of churchgoers on March 1st turned their backs to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as he addressed the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama. The group consisted of at least nine people who turned their backs as Bloomberg spoke at the commemoration of the historic civil rights march in 1965 during which Black protesters demanded the right to vote. During the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, 17 people were injured by police as they attempted to cross Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

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Bloomberg was the first Democratic presidential candidate invited to address the congregation. “As he spoke about his Greenwood Initiative — which he launched in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in January and to address systemic bias that has kept many Black Americans from gaining wealth — several people sitting in the church pews stood up and turned their backs to him,” CNN reported.

Bloomberg has been facing backlash over several racists remarks he has made and especially for policies he enforced as mayor of NYC that were considered racist, such as the controversial stop-and-frisk policing strategy.

Former Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at the service and received a different reception. Congregation members cheered and clapped as Biden walked in and sat next to Rev. Al Sharpton, and later Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, who has endorsed Biden.

“During her remarks, Sewell praised Biden for his work in the African-American community, even going so far as to note that he “took on banks to combat the redlining that made it…near impossible for African Americans to buy homes,” CNN reported. Bloomberg has started his support of  “redlining,” the biased housing practice that stopped banks from providing mortgages in low-income, largely minority neighborhoods.

After the service, Biden and Bloomberg were set to be joined by fellow candidates Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg for the annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate “Bloody Sunday.”

Congressman John Lewis, who had his skull fractured by police at the March 7, 1965, march as a 25-year-old protester, attended the services Sunday and then the commemoration march. Lewis, who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December, told the crowd Sunday, “I thought I was going to die on this bridge.”

“We cannot give up now, we cannot give in,” Lewis said. “We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize. We must go out and vote like we’ve never, ever voted before … Get in the way. Get in good trouble. And help redeem the soul of America.”

“After the service, Biden and Bloomberg were set to be joined by fellow candidates Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg for the annual march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge,” CBS News reported.

Congressman John Lewis, who had his skull fractured by police at the March 7, 1965, March on Selma when he was  25, attended the church services. Lewis was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in December.

“We cannot give up now, we cannot give in,” Lewis said. “We must keep the faith, keep our eyes on the prize. We must go out and vote like we’ve never, ever voted before … Get in the way. Get in good trouble. And help redeem the soul of America.”

Alabama is one of 14 states that vote on Super Tuesday on March 3. It will also be Bloomberg’s first time on the ballot.