President Barack Obama delivered a speech on Saturday from the Edmund Pettus Bridge—named for a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan and site of what came to be known as "Bloody Sunday"—addressing race in America. "What happened in Ferguson may not be unique," he said, "but it's no longer endemic. It's no longer sanctioned by law or custom, and before the civil rights movement, it most surely was."
The president, however, rejected the notion that we are living in a post-racial society. "We don't need the Ferguson report to know that's not true," he said. Earlier this week, the Department of Justice released two reports on Ferguson: one explained why Darren Wilson would not be charged with civil rights violations in the death of Michael Brown; the other detailed the systemic racism of the Ferguson police department.
"We just need to open our eyes and our ears and our hearts to know that this nation's racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. We know the march is not over yet, we know the race is not yet won. We know reaching that blessed destination where we are judged by the content of our character requires admitting as much," Obama said.
The 2013 Supreme Court ruling that found part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act—passed after the events of Selma's "Bloody Sunday," the 50th anniversary of which the president's speech was intended to commemorate—unconstitutional makes reaching that blessed destination all the more difficult.