Freedom Rider Bernard Lafayette shuts down Ferguson protesters from disrupting President Obama’s speech

A Ferguson protester bangs drums during President's speechSELMA – Civil rights leader Bernard Lafayette was listening intently to President Barack Obama’s speech in Selma on Saturday afternoon when he began to hear what sounded like a drum beat and chants of “We want change, we want change.”

After several minutes, he rose from his chair and, accompanied by the Rev. Darryl Gray, a Southern Christian Leadership Conference friend, they made their way through a large crowd behind him to where the commotion came from.

Lafayette said one of the young demonstrators told him they were from Ferguson, Missouri, where a police officer fatally shot a young, unarmed black man last year — an event that led to weeks of violent protests.

“I asked them why they were making such a ruckus, and one told me they were upset that the president wasn’t addressing their concerns, but never really told me what they were,” said Lafayette.

A voting rights pioneer who began registering black residents in Selma two years before the protests began there, Lafayette has continued to advocate human rights issues in Alabama.

Obama did not appear upset during his speech as the noise continued for several minutes from an area not far away from where he stood on a stage at the base of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Lafayette said the demonstrators brought along their own “musical instruments” in what appeared to be a well-planned protest.

“It wasn’t spontaneous,” said Lafayette, who had been sitting next to his wife, Kate, in a special seated section. “It was well planned and when I asked who their leader was, it turned out to be an older woman.”

He said one of the demonstrators began crying that nobody would listen to their complaints and Lafayette let him know that he had been arrested 27 times during the protests he was involved in and once was targeted for assassination in Selma.


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4 Responses to Freedom Rider Bernard Lafayette shuts down Ferguson protesters from disrupting President Obama’s speech

  1. rikyrah says:

    I’m so glad he did it. And, you know, he was not having any of their foolishness. You know when your Elders used to give you ‘THAT LOOK’.

    The look that told you…you done messed up.

    The look that told you…you would have to go out back and get your own switch.

    Yes, THAT LOOK.

    They thought that they could come to THIS EVENT

    An anniversary for people who actually accomplished something…

    That had tangible goals….

    And were gonna heckle THIS President and First Family…..

    they need to stop with their foolishness and get down to business cleaning up Ferguson

    Registering people to vote in Ferguson

    Running candidates in Ferguson

    • Bernard Lafayette says their heckling was well planned, bringing in musical instruments and chanting ‘we want change’ ‘we want change’ while the Potus was speaking. Just reprehensible. In Selma? Did they not know the significance of the event or is it they didn’t give a damn?

      • majiir says:

        What pisses me off about many of the residents of Ferguson is that they won’t vote the way they should. There are more blacks than whites in the city, and they could change things if they registered and voted. They can’t blame the president or anyone else for their plight, if they’re too sorry to participate in local elections. When they stay home on election days, they’re ceding control to the whites who always make sure they make it to the polls. They know that the whites will vote for white candidates, so they get what they deserve when they fail to vote. They need to be pro-active about voting, then they wouldn’t have to be reactive after people take office that they know will use their power to oppress them.

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