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Item 9 General Debate: Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance
March 23, 2015

Statement Delivered by Kelly J. Tucker, Delegation of the United States of America

UN Human Rights Council – 28th Session

March 24, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Fifty years ago this month, African-American activists in Selma, Alabama who were fed up with racial discrimination at the voting booth, planned a 50-mile march to the state capital in Montgomery to demand equal voting rights. On the afternoon of March 7, 1965, when the protesters began their first attempt at the march, they were met with violent resistance from law enforcement officials in what was later called “Bloody Sunday.” The protesters were not successful until their third attempt. The march, and the attention it garnered, ultimately led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Earlier this month, President Obama, community leaders, activists, and thousands of other marchers gathered in Selma to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” At the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, the site where the march began, President Obama acknowledged that, while progress has been made, the “march is not yet over” and that it is a mistake to suggest racism in the United States has been banished. Rather, it is a foundational principle of the United States and one deeply valued by generations of Americans that our responsibility as a society is to strive constantly to make America better.

As President Obama reminded us, the efforts of countless Americans helped to break down political, economic, and social barriers, not only for African-Americans, but also women and girls, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans, LGBT persons, persons with disabilities, and older persons over the last 50 years. And that work continues today.

One important lesson Selma teaches us is that justice and equal opportunity require sustained action and effort. That is why the United States remains deeply committed to fighting racism and racial discrimination at home and abroad.

Thank you Mr. Vice President.