SELMA, AL – The connection between voting rights and Hellenism is inextricable. Representing the descendants of the people who pioneered Democracy and began the long march to universal human rights and equality, Archbishop Iakovos marched with Martin Luther to fight for people’s right to vote in 1965.
On March 8, 2015, numerous Hellenes, including Archbishop Demetrios and Congressman John Sarbanes, made a 50th anniversary pilgrimage to Selma to commemorate a salient moment in American history and the men and women who risked – and gave – their lives so that their brothers and sisters could enjoy the full fruits of freedom.
Sarbanes marked the occasion with a moving statement:
“This weekend, I had the once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a pilgrimage to Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of the famous march from Selma to Montgomery. In 1965, twenty-five year old John Lewis, with whom I now serve in Congress, led that march for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He and dozens of others were savagely beaten by Alabama State troopers on March 7 in what came to be known as Bloody Sunday. The country’s outrage at this senseless violence turned the tide in the struggle for federal legislation to protect the right to vote. Days later, President Johnson announced he would bring a Voting Rights Act to Congress and four months after that, it passed.
“Thank you to John Lewis, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all the other foot soldiers of the civil rights movement who refused to back down in Selma. We know that there is one thing above all others we can do to repay the debt we owe you for your bravery and sacrifice. It is the one thing we must encourage others to do as well. It is the thing that will restore hope and power to our democracy…VOTE!”