40 day US march for equal racial rights commences

2015-08-02 12:01
(Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

(Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

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Civil rights campaigners in the US have begun a 40-day march to highlight racial inequality.

The activists set out on Sunday from Selma, Alabama - the scene of a violent crackdown on voting rights demonstrators 50 years ago.

More than 200 supporters took part in the first leg of the march that will continue for more than 1 300km through the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

The total distance covered will be about 16 times the 87km walked by voting rights activists in 1965 and will end with a rally in Washington DC on September 16.

Organisers of the "Journey for Justice" are hoping to mobilise thousands of people along the way.

Marchers sang as they crossed the Edmund Pettus bridge, where protesters marching for voting rights were met with clubs and tear gas 50 years ago.

That day became known as "Bloody Sunday," but it led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, giving African Americans the power to cast their ballots for the first time in US history.

Recent killings of blacks by white police officers as well as a deadly attack on a black church have intensified a national debate about race in the US.

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