Sean Hannity, Andrew Breitbart, and others pushed the falsehood that in 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama appeared and marched with the New Black Panther Party in Selma. In fact, Obama's visit was sponsored by the Faith & Politics Institute, a non-partisan organization that has prominent Democrats and Republicans among its leaders.
During the 42nd anniversary of the 1965 march from Selma, Obama pushed the wheelchair of the late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a civil rights icon, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The Faith & Politics Institute released this picture of Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Shuttlesworth, and Rev. Joseph Lowery, another civil rights leader, during the event in Selma:
In a statement memorializing Shuttlesworth, the Faith & Politics Institute said:
The Faith & Politics Institute has sponsored and facilitated Congressional Pilgrimages since 1998. These journeys retrace the places and moments of the Civil Rights Movement keeping alive the vision and capacity for change that adheres to nonviolence and civility as both means and ends. More than 150 Members of Congress and national leaders have joined The Faith & Politics Institute on these Pilgrimages. -- among them Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, then Senators Sam Brownback, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton as well as President Bill Clinton.
President Obama pushed, (see photo below) in 2007, an aging civil rights pioneer and icon, in his wheel chair, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where, 42 years earlier one of the most violent moments of the Civil Rights Movement took place. That civil rights icon and pioneer was the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth who died at the age of 89 yesterday.
Over the past 12 years The Faith & Politics Institute has been honored and blessed in coming to know and experience the power and faith of Reverend Shuttlesworth. We both mourn his passing and celebrate his life.
Reverend Doug Tanner, a co-founder of The Faith & Politics and currently a Senior Advisor, offers this reflection:
"Since 1998, Congressman John Lewis has led over a hundred and fifty of his House and Senate colleagues on an annual pilgrimage sponsored by The Faith & Politics Institute to historic sites of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth joined the pilgrimages early on and became a special friend to all of us. Rev. Shuttlesworth embodied a rare combination of unshakeable faith and steely determination with amazing courage, a ready warm smile, and easy laughter. We grieve his physical departure, but know that his spirit is with us forever."
The Faith & Politics Institute has "served hundreds of members of Congress and congressional staff by offering experiential pilgrimages, reflection groups, and public forums." It has both Republicans and Democrats among its leaders including eight Republican members of Congress, 14 Democrats, and one independent on its congressional advisory council.