President Barack Obama will travel next week to an Alabama town famous for a march that was forcibly broken up by police 50 years ago in a seminal moment for black civil rights in the United States.
"Next week, the world will turn its eyes to Selma again," said Obama, the first black president of the United States, who will visit with his wife Michelle and two daughters to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery.
The first family were going to Selma to pay tribute "to those who changed the course of history," added Obama on Thursday during a White House reception.
He hailed "the countless American heroes whose names aren`t in the history books, that aren`t etched on marble somewhere -- ordinary men and women from all corners of this nation, all walks of life, black and white, rich and poor, students, scholars, maids, ministers -- all who marched and who sang and organized to change this country for the better."
On March 7, 1965, some 600 peaceful activists asserting their right to vote were attacked by police with clubs and tear gas at Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma in a dark episode in America`s history that would later be called "Bloody Sunday."
Former US president George W. Bush will also attend the anniversary ceremony.
The Selma march is the subject of the Oscar-nominated film "Selma," released last year to acclaim.