SELMA, Ala. — The nation's first black attorney general and Gov. George C. Wallace's daughter celebrated the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march Sunday — 44 years after state troopers from her father's administration beat marchers as they started the landmark journey.
Peggy Wallace Kennedy introduced Attorney General Eric Holder at a historic Selma church.
Selma's annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, commemorating the 1965 voting rights march, brought together civil rights activists Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Joseph Lowery and several members of Congress, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who was beaten in the original Selma march. More than a thousand people observed the march Sunday.
Holder and Kennedy embraced at Brown Chapel AME Church, where marchers organized on March 7, 1965, to begin their 50-mile trek to Montgomery.
A few blocks into the march, the marchers were beaten by state troopers on Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge — an event that became known as "Bloody Sunday."
The march to Montgomery was later completed under federal protection, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leading it. It prompted passage of the Voting Rights Act, which opened Southern polling places to blacks and ended all-white government.
Wallace's daughter endorsed Barack Obama for president. She and Holder had not met until Sunday, but the ties between them go back decades.
Her father stood in the schoolhouse door at the University of Alabama in 1963 in an unsuccessful attempt to keep Holder's future sister-in-law, Vivian Malone Jones, from integrating the university.