Democratic and Republican leaders in Washington D.C. ventured south to Selma , Alabama this weekend to commemorate the 53rd anniversary and the struggles of activists who endured violence during Bloody Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

On March 7, 1965, peaceful voting rights protesters were attacked by state troopers as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Among the scores of activists, there was a young John Lewis who is now one of the leading Democratic congressmen in D.C. 

Today, the fight for equal rights still remains. Senators Kamala Harris, Doug Jones and others walked the same path as activists did 53 years ago. 

The March on Selma to Montogomery was one of the first times white Americans saw racial violence toward black people on national television. Nearly 600 people walked on the bridge that Sunday knowing that they would be brutalized. They were met with tear gas, police batons and dogs for allegedly staging an unlawful assembly. 

“It would be detrimental to your safety to continue this march,” then Major John Cloud called out from his bullhorn that Sunday. “This is an unlawful assembly. You have to disperse, you are ordered to disperse. Go home or go to your church. This march will not continue.” 

After a series of other marches in March, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became a reality that year after public opinion was swayed. President Lyndon B. Johnson eventually signed the act into law on Aug. 6, 1965.