On Saturday in Selma, Alabama, marchers retraced the steps that civil rights protestors had taken in 1965. Those protestors — who included now-Congressman John Lewis — banded together to raise awareness about racially-motivated voter suppression. The marchers were violently turned back by law enforcement officers in an effort that had tacit approval by the state. Fifty years later, President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and many others attended the anniversary of this violent and pivotal event.

"That was some good ol' speechifyin' — he was testifying to the greatness of the country," the Rev. Emmett G. Price III said about the President on Boston Public Radio. Price said Obama acted like "America's great cheerleader, in spite of what Rudy Giuliani says," referencing former Mayor Giuliani's comments about the President's patriotism.

Peggy Kennedy Wallace — daughter of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace — was Saturday's attendees. George Wallace was a segregationist who actively opposed equal rights for African Americans. The Rev. Irene Monroe said Peggy Kennedy Wallace's presence "symbolized change" in the US.

"It was really wonderful," Monroe said.

The bridge that protestors crossed in 1965 and again in 2015 is named after Edmund Pettus. Some have suggested that given Pettus' statements about race relations and power dynamics, a new namesake be chosen for the structure.

"Edmund Pettus was the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Clan, and also a Confederate general!" Monroe said. "It keeps a part of racial history that we don't want." Monroe suggested changing the name and using a placard to explain the change.

Price disagreed.

"A lot of folks said that if we forget our history [...] then we won't understand what we've overcome." Price said he deferred to those who use the bridge every day.

Monroe responded that if the name was kept, she hoped it would be only to spite its namesake.

"If you keep the name of the bridge, I'm just hoping that Edmund Pettus is just turning over in his grave," Monroe said. "People that could not once walk across it just do it so easily now."

While the Selma march was a victory for civil rights crusaders, enthusiasm surrounding Saturday's events was tempered by two other events. In the first instance, a black teen named Tony Robinson was shot and killed by a white police officer in Madison, Wisconsin Friday. In the second instance, video surfaced on Sunday of members of Oklahoma University's Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing a racist song.

President Obama said Saturday that racism was no longer "endemic" to the United States. In light of Robinson's death, and the racist video, Rev. Emmett Price thought the statement deserved examination.

"I understand the President saying that he rejects this notion [of 'endemic' racism], and he has the prerogative to reject it. I just don't reject it," Price said.

"We re-inscribe it differently and think that it looks different, but the outcome is the same," Rev. Monroe added.

Monroe noted recent civil rights gains for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people came about more quickly than civil rights for people of color, and said that was because of white LGBT allies.

"[It] has a lot to do with the LGBT people [who] are also white. If [they] were also black, or people of color" it wouldn't work, Monroe said. She added that even open-minded young people — some of whom belong to fraternities and sororities and support LGBT rights — countenanced racist or biased views. 

"The LGBT community which I reside in and move in — that same demographic group holds some of the racist views," Monroe said.

"A lot of our millenials disconnect their own personal views [with] their actions," Price added.

Both agreed that the release of the movie Selma — which featured a re-creation of the events that unfolded in Alabama in 1965 — was timed well to coincide with Saturday's commemoration.