Washington Secrets

Cantor marches into civil rights history

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

Richmond, Va. has an unrivaled place in American history, capital of the Confederacy, but also one of the birthplaces of racial integration in divided Virginia, a city that elected a majority black council in the 1970s.

Now Richmond's congressman, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who grew up in the state's capitol during those sometimes tumultuous times, is taking steps to herald the civil rights era that helped advance blacks in his hometown and nation.

Just last weekend, Cantor joined with civil rights leaders including Rep. John Lewis in the annual crossing of the Selma, Alabama Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement. His was a rare white Republican face the crowd of marchers.

"Reflecting on these important moments in our nation's history, I look forward to focusing on ways in which together we can continue to confront challenges and solve the nation's problems," he said.

Cantor went a step further on Thursday, joining with Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, and two others to launch a new House website, "The House and Selma: Bridging History and Memory." It will help preserve historic testimonies from lawmakers about their contributions to the civil rights movement.

Said Cantor, "We honor their sacrifices and reflect on ways in which together we can confront current challenges. The ongoing effort by the House to capture these important moments in the civil rights movement will preserve this transformative period in American history for generations to come."

A previous version said that Douglas Wilder was elected mayor of Richmond in 1989. He was elected governor that year, and later, in 2005, was mayor of the capital.

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