Obama Draws Crowds in Selma

By Lindsay Hamilton

Mar 4, 2007 12:07pm

ABC News’ John Cochran and Jonathan Greenberger report: Senators Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., are going head to head in Selma, Alabama on the anniversary of the Bloody Sunday voting rights demonstration. The event is significant for the ’08 candidates as they each vie for the black vote.

Clinton, joined by the former president, and Obama are both scheduled to speak at churches this morning, just three blocks apart, and later they will appear together at a rally.

Early reports from Selma indicate the line for Obama’s event was considerably longer than the line outside Clinton’s location, but when ABC News asked Obama about the crowds as he entered the church, he laughed it off and said his event started earlier.

Before heading to the church, Obama made an appearance at the Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast. Speaking to a mostly black crowd of about 800, Obama tried to connect his background as the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother with the experience of the African-Americans in the crowd who lived through the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. Obama admitted that he is sometimes asked if he can truly relate to the likes of those who were beaten while trying to march through Selma in 1965, but he said his response is that the same forces at work in Selma 40 years ago were at work in Kenya while his father was growing up.

Obama also told the crowd that he is grateful for the impact their actions have had on him.

"It is fair to say if it weren’t for Selma, I would not be here," he said. "We have to remind ourselves of our history."

Earlier, to light laughter, Obama said he had never before been to Selma, but it "felt like a homecoming" because Selma is a "lot like the South Side of Chicago," where Obama spent many years as a community organizer.

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