New

Selma to Montgomery March Begins

Selma to Montgomery March Begins


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

In the name of African American voting rights, 3,200 civil rights demonstrators in Alabama, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., begin a historic march from Selma to Montgomery, the state’s capital. Federalized Alabama National Guardsmen and FBI agents were on hand to provide safe passage for the march, which twice had been turned back by Alabama state police at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge.

WATCH: Rise Up: The Movement that Changed America on HISTORY Vault

In 1965, King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) decided to make the small town of Selma the focus of their drive to win voting rights for African Americans in the South. Alabama’s governor, George Wallace, was a vocal opponent of the African-American civil rights movement, and local authorities in Selma had consistently thwarted efforts by the Dallas County Voters League and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to register local Black citizens.

Although Governor Wallace promised to prevent it from going forward, on March 7 some 600 demonstrators, led by SCLC leader Hosea Williams and SNCC leader John Lewis, began the 54-mile march to the state capital. After crossing Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by Alabama state troopers and posse men who attacked them with nightsticks, tear gas and whips after they refused to turn back.

READ MORE: Civil Rights Movement Timeline

Several of the protesters were severely beaten, and others ran for their lives. The incident was captured on national television and outraged many Americans.

King, who was in Atlanta at the time, promised to return to Selma immediately and lead another attempt. On March 9, King led another marching attempt, but turned the marchers around when state troopers again blocked the road.

On March 21, U.S. Army troops and federalized Alabama National Guardsmen escorted the marchers across Edmund Pettus Bridge and down Highway 80. When the highway narrowed to two lanes, only 300 marchers were permitted, but thousands more rejoined the Alabama Freedom March as it came into Montgomery on March 25.

On the steps of the Alabama State Capitol, King addressed live television cameras and a crowd of 25,000, just a few hundred feet from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where he got his start as a minister in 1954.

READ MORE: How Selma's 'Bloody Sunday' Became a Turning Point in the Civil Rights Movement


History & Culture

Map of the historic march route from Selma to Montgomery (NPS, SEMO)

Dallas, Lowndes, and Montgomery Counties in the Early 1900s

In the years of post-reconstruction Jim Crow laws, suppression of African American citizens' right to vote through the use of targeted voter registration restrictions and intimidation was widespread in the American South. Because of this, 0% of the African American population in Lowndes County was able to vote, and only 2% percent in Dallas County.

The barriers to voting in the these counties had prompted Black community leaders in Selma to organize and create the Dallas County Voter's League, and by the 1960's, the movement gained national attention with civil rights groups and activists protesting in Selma in order to bring awareness to these voting injustices. Protests against voter registration discrimination increased in the county and nearby areas, with many of them often met by violence from the local sheriff's department, leaving many wondering what was going to happen next.
‏‏‎

The Murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson

On the evening of February 18 th , 1965 during a protest to free SCLC supporter Rev. James Orange from the Perry County Jail, in Marion, AL, Alabama state troopers violently broke up the demonstration, resulting in the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a civil rights activist and Perry County native. Jackson was shot in the abdomen and died from his wounds on February 26 th , 1965. In response to Jackson's death, a march to the Alabama Capitol in Montgomery was planned — Sunday, March 7th, was the chosen day for the first march attempt.
‏‏‎

First March Attempt

On March 7 th , approximately 600 non-violent protestors, the vast majority being African-American, departed from Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma with the intent on marching 54-miles to Montgomery, as a memorial to Jimmie Lee Jackson and to protest for voter's rights. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by state troopers and local volunteer officers of the sheriff's department who blocked their path.

The non-violent protesters were told by Maj. John Cloud that they had two minutes to return back to their church and homes. In less than the time allotted, they were attacked by the law enforcement officers with nightsticks and teargas, violently driving them back into Selma. According to several reports, at least 50 protestors required hospital treatment. The brutality that was displayed on this day was captured by the media however, the media was held back as the protesters retreated, where the violence continued for some time. Known as "Bloody Sunday," the attack caused outrage around the country, receiving large scale media coverage that garnered national sympathy for the civil rights movement.
‏‏‎

Second March Attempt

In response to the attack, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for another march on Tuesday, March 9 th . Known as "Turnaround Tuesday," Dr. King led a second march of approximately 1,500 protestors to the site of the Bloody Sunday attack where state troopers blocked the path of the march again. Deciding not to risk violent confrontation, members of the clergy led the group in prayer, after which, the group returned to Selma this time they were not attacked. However, that evening, three Unitarian ministers who had traveled to Selma in order to join the protest were attacked by a group of white hooligans. On March 11 th , Rev. James Reeb, died from his injuries.
‏‏‎

Third and Final March Attempt

The civil rights protestors sought and received protection for a third march, which was granted by Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. on March 17 th , which restrained Alabama state troopers and Dallas county sheriff from interfering with the march. On March 21 st , the official Selma to March began, with more than 4,000 protestors departing from the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church to begin the five-day march. Marchers spent nights at four campsites along the trail — the final campsite on the outskirts of Montgomery had thousands more protestors waiting to join the marchers on the last leg of their journey.

On Thursday, March 25th, the last day of the march, the crowd making their way to the state capital building had grown to nearly 25,000 protestors. On the grounds of the capital building, Dr. King gave his Our God is Marching On speech, calling for the enfranchisement of African Americans with their voting rights, saying that it would not be long before the day would come when their fight for freedom and equality would be realized.

Passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

The march brought national attention to the voting rights struggle faced by African Americans, and the media coverage of the march and the violent protests leading up to it put pressure on Congress and the Johnson administration to take action on the issue. On August 6th, five months after the marches, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, making it possible for African Americans in the South to register to vote. After the passage of the Voting Rights Act, registration of African American voters in Central Alabama increased dramatically.


On This Day: Selma-to-Montgomery March Begins

In early 1965, the SCLC, SNCC and other black civil rights organizations launched a voter registration campaign in Selma, Ala., where because of intimidation and literacy tests just 2 percent of the African-American population was registered to vote.

On Feb. 18, during a protest march in nearby Marion, police shot and killed 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather from police beatings. In response, John Lewis of SNCC and Hosea Williams of SCLC organized a march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery, 54 miles away.

On March 7, about 525 people began marching over Selma&rsquos Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they were met by local police and state troopers, who had been ordered by segregationist Gov. George Wallace to stop the marchers. Brandishing tear gas, whips and sticks, the officers attacked the marchers and drove them back over the bridge, injuring 56.

The event, known as &ldquoBloody Sunday,&rdquo was captured on film and broadcast across the country, horrifying many Americans. SCLC leader Martin Luther King soon arrived in Selma and organized a second march while his lawyers filed for a federal injunction to stop Wallace from inhibiting the march.

On March 9, King led a symbolic march onto the bridge and back, avoiding conflict with the police. On March 17, District Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. granted the injunction, ordering that police could not stop a peaceful civil rights march.

On Sunday, March 21, 3,200 marchers left Selma with federal troops guarding them to begin their third and final march. Over the course of five days, many of the demonstrators walked 54 miles to Montgomery. They slept in tents at night and continued the march through rain on the third day. By the time the march reached Montgomery, there were 25,000 people in the crowd.

When they reached the capitol, they presented a petition reading, &ldquoWe have come not only five days and 50 miles [80 kilometers], but we have come from three centuries of suffering and hardship. We have come to you, the Governor of Alabama, to declare that we must have our freedom NOW. We must have the right to vote we must have equal protection of the law, and an end to police brutality.&rdquo

King delivered a speech from the steps of the capitol. &ldquoThe end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience,&rdquo he declared. &ldquoAnd that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.&rdquo


Bloody Sunday

In unilaterally scheduling the action for Sunday, March 7, King alienated a number of SNCC leaders, who resented the lack of a joint decision. Ultimately, they allowed their members to participate in the march as individuals, led by SNCC chairman John Lewis. When King’s father persuaded him to preach at Ebenezer Baptist Church (his home church) in Atlanta on Sunday, King initially rescheduled the march for Monday, March 8. He then chose to allow it to take place as originally planned so as not to discourage those who had already arrived on Sunday. His intention was to join the march later.

Before departing Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Selma on Sunday morning, marchers were reminded of their nonviolent tactics—that if they were halted, they should sit and pray until tear gassed or arrested. Led by Hosea Williams, one of King’s SCLC lieutenants, and Lewis, some 600 demonstrators walked, two by two, the six blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge that crossed the Alabama River and led out of Selma. At the east end of the bridge, the demonstrators encountered a force of sheriff’s deputies, deputized “possemen” (some on horseback), and dozens of state troopers. The marchers were told that they had two minutes to disperse. Williams asked to speak with the officer who had given the command. The officer responded that there was nothing to talk about, and moments later he ordered the state troopers to advance. In the tear-gas-shrouded melee that followed, marchers were spat upon, overrun by horses, and attacked with billy clubs and bullwhips. More than 50 marchers, including Lewis, were hospitalized.


Selma to Montgomery March Begins - HISTORY

Selma to Montgomery march in 1965 was part of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign and led to the passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement.

On February 26, activist and Deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper during a peaceful march in Marion, Alabama.

The community was sorrowed and outraged.

To defuse and refocus the anger, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma Campaign called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery.

The violence of “Bloody Sunday” and of Reeb’s death led to a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama state and federal governments.

The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African Americans to register and vote without harassment.

President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill’s introduction and passage.

In early 1963, SNCC organizers Colia and Bernard Lafayette arrived in Selma to begin a voter-registration project in cooperation with the DCVL.

In mid-June, Bernard was beaten and almost killed by Klansmen determined to prevent blacks from voting.

When the Lafayettes returned to college in the fall, SNCC organizers Prathia Hall and Worth Long carried on the work despite arrests, beatings, and death threats.

When 32 black school teachers applied at the county courthouse to register as voters, they were immediately fired by the all-white school board.

On the 2nd of January 1965 King and SCLC joined the SNCC, the Dallas County Voters League, and other local African American activists in a voting rights campaign in Selma where, in spite of repeated registration attempts by local blacks, only two percent were on the voting rolls.

SCLC had chosen to focus its efforts in Selma because they anticipated that the notorious brutality of local law enforcement under Sheriff Jim Clark would attract national attention and pressure President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress to enact new national voting rights legislation.

On the night of the 18th of February, Alabama state troopers joined local police breaking up an evening march in Marion.

On the 15th of March Johnson addressed the Congress, identifying himself with the demonstrators in Selma in a televised address: ‘‘their cause must be our cause too.

Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome’’ (Johnson, ‘‘Special Message’’). The following day Selma demonstrators submitted a detailed march plan to federal Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., who approved the demonstration and enjoined Governor Wallace and local law enforcement from harassing or threatening marchers.

On the 17th of March President Johnson submitted voting rights legislation to Congress.

The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights ended three weeks–and three events–that represented the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement.


Selma-to-Montgomery march timeline

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. leads marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 21, 1965, the first of a five-day, 50-mile march to the state Capitol at Montgomery. AP Marchers stream across the Alabama River in this March 21, 1965 photo on the first of a five day, 50 mile march to the state capitol at Montgomery. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who as a young civil rights leader was clubbed by police, won House approval on Tuesday May 14, 1996 of a bill designating the march route from Selma, Ala. to Montgomery a national historic trail. (Photo: Associated Press)

The 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march celebrates a series of peaceful protests carried out against often extreme violence that resulted in one of the most momentous pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history — the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Here are some of the major events in that struggle.

1962-1963 - Representatives of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee come to Selma and begin staging protests.

Oct. 7, 1963 - In what would be known as "Freedom Day," about 350 blacks line up to register to vote at the Dallas County Courthouse. Registrars go as slowly as possible and take a two-hour lunch break. Few manage to register, most of those are denied, but the protest is considered a huge victory by civil rights advocates.

July 9, 1964 - Dallas County Circuit Court Judge James Hare issues an injunction effectively forbidding gatherings of three or more people to discuss civil rights or voter registration in Selma.

Dec. 28, 1964 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presents the SCLC plan, the "Project for an Alabama Political Freedom Movement," a plan conceived by James Bevel that calls for mass action and voter registration attempts in Selma and Dallas County

Jan. 2, 1965 - King begins his Selma campaign when about 700 African Americans show up for a meeting at Brown Chapel in defiance of the injunction.

Jan. 18, 1965 - Black civil rights advocates meet at Brown Chapel. Following speeches and prayers, King and John Lewis lead 300 marchers out of the church. Selma Police Chief Wilson Baker allows them to march in small groups to the courthouse to register despite Hare's injunction, but Sheriff Jim Clark has them line up in an alley beside the courthouse, where they are out of sight, and leaves them there. None is registered.

Jan. 19, 1965 - Protestors return to the courthouse to register and demand to remain at the front of the building. Clark arrests them, including Hosea Williams of the SCLC, Lewis of the SNCC and Amelia Boynton

Jan. 22, 1965 - Since local teachers can be fired, few have taken overt roles in the civil rights movement, but Margaret Moore and the Rev. F.D. Reese, who is also a teacher at Hudson High, organize the unprecedented teachers' march. Almost every black teacher in Selma — 110 of them — marches to register to vote. Clark and his deputies push them down the courthouse stairs three times, but they are not arrested.

Jan. 25, 1965 - King leads another march of about 250 people to the courthouse. When Clark painfully twists the arm of Annie Lee Cooper, 54, and shoves her, she slugs him — twice.

Feb. 1, 1965 - King and Ralph Abernathy lead a protest and refuse to break into smaller groups. Both are arrested and placed in the Selma jail, and refuse to be bonded out.

Feb. 4, 1965 - One day after addressing students at Tuskegee Institute, Malcolm X speaks to a crowd at Brown Chapel, carefully avoiding speaking about his previous differences with King concerning non-violence.

Feb. 4, 1965 - President Lyndon Johnson makes his first public statement supporting the Selma campaign

Feb. 6, 1965 - President Johnson says he will urge Congress to enact a voting rights bill during the session

February 1965 - Gov. George C. Wallace bans nighttime demonstrations in Selma and Marion, and assigns 75 troopers to enforce it.

Feb. 18, 1965 - State troopers attack marchers during a protest in Marion. State trooper James Bonard Fowler shoots and kills Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old deacon of the St. James Baptist Church. Fowler was charged with murder in 2007. He pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in 2010, when he was 67, saying he thought Jackson had been reaching for a weapon. He was sentenced to six months, but was released after five because of failing health.

March 5, 1965 - King flies to Washington to speak with President Johnson about the Voting Rights Bill. Then announces the plan for a massive march from Selma to Montgomery.

March 6, 1965 - Alabama whites, calling themselves the Concerned White Citizens of Alabama, come to Selma to march in support of black rights. Klan members have followed them into town to protest their march, and the demonstration breaks up as it is clear violence is about to break out.

March 7, 1965 - In what would become known as "Bloody Sunday," John Lewis and Hosea Williams lead about 600 people on what is intended to be a march from Selma to Montgomery. But Alabama state troopers, some on horseback, and Clark and his deputies meet the marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. When the marchers refuse to disperse, they are driven back with billy clubs and tear gas, with 16 being hospitalized and at least 50 others injured. The national coverage of the event galvanizes the country, and King calls for volunteers from throughout the nation to come to Selma for another march on March 9.

March 8, 1965 - Fred Gray and the SCLC file Hosea Williams v George Wallace before U.S. District Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. in Montgomery, asking the court to prevent state troopers from blocking the march. Wallace representatives argue that the march should be blocked because it would block roadways, interfering with state commerce and transportation and be a threat to public safety. Johnson, concerned about the safety of the marchers, says the march should be put off until the court can hold a formal hearing and make a decision.

March 9, 1965 - Martin Luther King Jr. leads another march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. About 2,000 people, more than half of them white and about a third members of the clergy, participate in the second march. King leads the march to the bridge, then tells the protestors to disperse. The march becomes known as Turnaround Tuesday.

March 9, 1965 - James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister who had come from Boston and marched in the protest earlier in the day, is beaten severely by KKK members. He dies of head injuries two days later at the age of 38.

March 11, 1965 - Upset with the way the SCLC is handling things in Selma, James Forman and much of the SNCC staff move to Montgomery and begin a series of demonstrations. The group also asks for students from across the country to join them. Tuskegee Institute students come to Montgomery in an attempt to deliver a petition to Wallace.

March13, 1965 - President Johnson meets with Wallace to decry the brutality surrounding the protests and asks him to mobilize the Alabama National Guard to protect demonstrators.

March 14, 1965 - SNCC staff members lead 400 Alabama State University students, joined by a group of white students from across the country, on a march from the ASU campus to the Capitol. Although Montgomery police react peacefully to the march, as the students approach the Capitol, state troopers, the sheriff's office and a posse it has deputized attack the marchers. Photos of the violence make national headlines.

March 15, 1965 - President Johnson addresses Congress in support of a Voting Rights Bill, quoting the famous civil rights cry "We shall overcome."

March 17, 1965 - Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. rules in favor of the marchers after receiving a Justice Department plan outlining their protection during the march.

March 17, 1965 - Despite the arguments between the SCLC and the SNCC, King joins Forman in leading a march of 2000 people in Montgomery to the Montgomery County courthouse. After the march, King announces the third Selma-to-Montgomery march. City of Montgomery officials apologize for the assault on SNCC protesters by county and state law enforcement and ask King and Forman to work with them on how best to deal with future protests in the city student leaders promise they will seek permits for future protest marches. But Wallace continues to arrest protestors who venture on to state-controlled property.

March 18, 1965 - Wallace blasts Judge Johnson's ruling, saying the state cannot afford to provide the security the marchers need and that he will ask the federal government for help.

March 19, 1965 - Wallace sends a telegram to President Johnson asking for help in providing security for the march.

March 20, 1965 - President Johnson issues an executive order authorizing the federal use of the Alabama National Guard to supply protection. He also sends 1,000 military policemen and 2,000 Army troops to escort the march from Selma.

March 21, 1965 - About 8,000 people assemble at Brown Chapel before starting the five-day march to Montgomery's Capitol.

March 24, 1965 - Marchers rest at the City of St. Jude, a Catholic church and school complex on the outskirts of Montgomery, where Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, Sammy Davis Jr., Nina Simone, Frankie Laine and Peter, Paul and Mary perform at a "Stars for Freedom" rally.

March 25, 1965 - During the Selma-to-Montgomery march, about 25,000 demonstrators join the marchers when they reach Montgomery for a final rally at the state Capitol. King delivers his famous "How Long, Not Long" speech.

March 25, 1965 - That night, Viola Liuzzo, a white mother of five who had driven from Detroit to help protest for black civil rights, is shot and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen as she drives toward Montgomery to pick up a carload of marchers. She was 39.

August 6, 1965 - President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law.


Timeline: The Selma-to-Montgomery marches

"Bloody Sunday" was a catalyst for the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, paving the way for black voters across the country to exercise their right. Find out what led up to the event and the impact it had on American history.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. leads marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 21, 1965, the first of a five-day, 50-mile march to the state Capitol at Montgomery. AP Marchers stream across the Alabama River in this March 21, 1965 photo on the first of a five day, 50 mile march to the state capitol at Montgomery. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who as a young civil rights leader was clubbed by police, won House approval on Tuesday May 14, 1996 of a bill designating the march route from Selma, Ala. to Montgomery a national historic trail. (Photo: Associated Press)

The 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march celebrates a series of peaceful protests carried out against often extreme violence that resulted in one of the most momentous pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history — the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Here are some of the major events in that struggle.

1962-1963 - Representatives of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee come to Selma and begin staging protests.

Oct. 7, 1963 - In what would be known as "Freedom Day," about 350 blacks line up to register to vote at the Dallas County Courthouse. Registrars go as slowly as possible and take a two-hour lunch break. Few manage to register, most of those are denied, but the protest is considered a huge victory by civil rights advocates.

July 9, 1964 - Dallas County Circuit Court Judge James Hare issues an injunction effectively forbidding gatherings of three or more people to discuss civil rights or voter registration in Selma.

Dec. 28, 1964 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presents the SCLC plan, the "Project for an Alabama Political Freedom Movement," a plan conceived by James Bevel that calls for mass action and voter registration attempts in Selma and Dallas County.

Obama prepares to honor watershed moment at Selma

Jan. 2, 1965 - King begins his Selma campaign when about 700 African Americans show up for a meeting at Brown Chapel in defiance of the injunction.

Jan. 18, 1965 - Black civil rights advocates meet at Brown Chapel. Following speeches and prayers, King and John Lewis lead 300 marchers out of the church. Selma Police Chief Wilson Baker allows them to march in small groups to the courthouse to register despite Hare's injunction, but Sheriff Jim Clark has them line up in an alley beside the courthouse, where they are out of sight, and leaves them there. None is registered.

Jan. 19, 1965 - Protesters return to the courthouse to register and demand to remain at the front of the building. Clark arrests them, including Hosea Williams of the SCLC, Lewis of the SNCC and Amelia Boynton.

State Troopers advance on marchers, from left, Hosea Williams, John Lewis, Albert turner Sr. and Bob Mantz at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. (Photo: Contributed)

Jan. 22, 1965 - Since local teachers can be fired, few have taken overt roles in the civil rights movement, but Margaret Moore and the Rev. F.D. Reese, who is also a teacher at Hudson High, organize the unprecedented teachers' march. Almost every black teacher in Selma — 110 of them — marches to register to vote. Clark and his deputies push them down the courthouse stairs three times, but they are not arrested.

Jan. 25, 1965 - King leads another march of about 250 people to the courthouse. When Clark painfully twists the arm of Annie Lee Cooper, 54, and shoves her, she slugs him — twice.

Feb. 1, 1965 - King and Ralph Abernathy lead a protest and refuse to break into smaller groups. Both are arrested and placed in the Selma jail, and refuse to be bonded out.

Feb. 4, 1965 - One day after addressing students at Tuskegee Institute, Malcolm X speaks to a crowd at Brown Chapel, carefully avoiding speaking about his previous differences with King concerning non-violence.

Feb. 4, 1965 - President Lyndon Johnson makes his first public statement supporting the Selma campaign.

Feb. 6, 1965 - President Johnson says he will urge Congress to enact a voting rights bill during the session.

Fight over voting rights continues on Selma anniversary

February 1965 - Gov. George C. Wallace bans nighttime demonstrations in Selma and Marion, and assigns 75 troopers to enforce it.

Feb. 18, 1965 - State troopers attack marchers during a protest in Marion. State trooper James Bonard Fowler shoots and kills Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old deacon of the St. James Baptist Church. Fowler was charged with murder in 2007. He pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in 2010, when he was 67, saying he thought Jackson had been reaching for a weapon. He was sentenced to six months, but was released after five because of failing health.

March 5, 1965 - King flies to Washington to speak with President Johnson about the Voting Rights Bill. Then announces the plan for a massive march from Selma to Montgomery.

March 6, 1965 - Alabama whites, calling themselves the Concerned White Citizens of Alabama, come to Selma to march in support of black rights. Klan members have followed them into town to protest their march, and the demonstration breaks up as it is clear violence is about to break out.

With state troopers barring their way on the steps of the Alabama State capitol at Montgomery on March 25, 1965, Civil rights marchers swarm into the plaza in front of capitol to end five day march from Selma, Ala. (Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

March 7, 1965 - In what would become known as "Bloody Sunday," John Lewis and Hosea Williams lead about 600 people on what is intended to be a march from Selma to Montgomery. But Alabama state troopers, some on horseback, and Clark and his deputies meet the marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. When the marchers refuse to disperse, they are driven back with billy clubs and tear gas, with 16 being hospitalized and at least 50 others injured. The national coverage of the event galvanizes the country, and King calls for volunteers from throughout the nation to come to Selma for another march on March 9.

March 8, 1965 - Fred Gray and the SCLC file Hosea Williams v George Wallace before U.S. District Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. in Montgomery, asking the court to prevent state troopers from blocking the march. Wallace representatives argue that the march should be blocked because it would block roadways, interfering with state commerce and transportation and be a threat to public safety. Johnson, concerned about the safety of the marchers, says the march should be put off until the court can hold a formal hearing and make a decision.

March 9, 1965 - Martin Luther King Jr. leads another march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. About 2,000 people, more than half of them white and about a third members of the clergy, participate in the second march. King leads the march to the bridge, then tells the protesters to disperse. The march becomes known as Turnaround Tuesday.

'Bloody Sunday' altered history of a horrified nation

March 9, 1965 - James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister who had come from Boston and marched in the protest earlier in the day, is beaten severely by KKK members. He dies of head injuries two days later at the age of 38.

March 11, 1965 - Upset with the way the SCLC is handling things in Selma, James Forman and much of the SNCC staff move to Montgomery and begin a series of demonstrations. The group also asks for students from across the country to join them. Tuskegee Institute students come to Montgomery in an attempt to deliver a petition to Wallace.

March 13, 1965 - President Johnson meets with Wallace to decry the brutality surrounding the protests and asks him to mobilize the Alabama National Guard to protect demonstrators.

March 14, 1965 - SNCC staff members lead 400 Alabama State University students, joined by a group of white students from across the country, on a march from the ASU campus to the Capitol. Although Montgomery police react peacefully to the march, as the students approach the Capitol, state troopers, the sheriff's office and a posse it has deputized attack the marchers. Photos of the violence make national headlines.

March 15, 1965 - President Johnson addresses Congress in support of a Voting Rights Bill, quoting the famous civil rights cry "We shall overcome."

March 17, 1965 - Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. rules in favor of the marchers after receiving a Justice Department plan outlining their protection during the march.

March 17, 1965 - Despite the arguments between the SCLC and the SNCC, King joins Forman in leading a march of 2000 people in Montgomery to the Montgomery County courthouse. After the march, King announces the third Selma-to-Montgomery march. City of Montgomery officials apologize for the assault on SNCC protesters by county and state law enforcement and ask King and Forman to work with them on how best to deal with future protests in the city student leaders promise they will seek permits for future protest marches. But Wallace continues to arrest protestors who venture on to state-controlled property.

March 18, 1965 - Wallace blasts Judge Johnson's ruling, saying the state cannot afford to provide the security the marchers need and that he will ask the federal government for help.

March 19, 1965 - Wallace sends a telegram to President Johnson asking for help in providing security for the march.

March 20, 1965 - President Johnson issues an executive order authorizing the federal use of the Alabama National Guard to supply protection. He also sends 1,000 military policemen and 2,000 Army troops to escort the march from Selma.

March 21, 1965 - About 8,000 people assemble at Brown Chapel before starting the five-day march to Montgomery's Capitol.

March 24, 1965 - Marchers rest at the City of St. Jude, a Catholic church and school complex on the outskirts of Montgomery, where Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, Sammy Davis Jr., Nina Simone, Frankie Laine and Peter, Paul and Mary perform at a "Stars for Freedom" rally.

March 25, 1965 - During the Selma-to-Montgomery march, about 25,000 demonstrators join the marchers when they reach Montgomery for a final rally at the state Capitol. King delivers his famous "How Long, Not Long" speech.

March 25, 1965 - That night, Viola Liuzzo, a white mother of five who had driven from Detroit to help protest for black civil rights, is shot and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen as she drives toward Montgomery to pick up a carload of marchers. She was 39.


Explore the timeline of the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in March 1965 In March 1965 Selma was the centre of an African American voter-registration drive led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Local violence against civil rights activists, culminating in an attack by police on demonstrators crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the river and the murder of James J. Reeb, a Boston clergyman, led to a massive nonviolent protest march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. The route of the march was designated the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail in 1996. The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute, located near the bridge, commemorates the struggle that resulted in passage of the Voting Rights Act. In 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee intensified voter-registration efforts in Dallas county. On February 18, 1965, Jimmie Lee Jackson was killed by a state trooper during a demonstration in Marion. On March 7, 1965, known as ‘Bloody Sunday’, More than 50 marchers were hospitalized after a violent response by law-enforcement officers and “possemen” on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, which is seen on TV by millions. “Turnaround Tuesday” occurs on March 9, 1965 as the March aborted at the Pettus Bridge in response to a federal court’s restraining order. On March 15, 1965, “We Shall Overcome”—U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson delivers a speech introducing the legislation that becomes the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Federal Judge Frank Johnson, Jr. allowed the march to continue on March 17, 1965. “The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups…by marching, even along public highways.” From March 21st to the 25th, As many as 25,000 people participated in the roughly 50-mile march from Selma to Montgomery, though under the terms of Judge Johnson’s ruling only 300 marchers are allowed to cover the 22-mile two-lane portion of the U.S. Highway 80 that passes through Lowndes county. On March 25, 1965, “How Long, Not Long”—Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered a landmark speech at the state capitol, saying that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” On August 6, 1965, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The map shows the route of the march from Selma, Alabama in Dallas county following state route 80 through Lowndes county to the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama in Montgomery county. Along the route are points marked where the campsites were located each night. The campsite on March 21st was located on Route 80 just east of the Craig Air Force Base. The campsite on March 22nd was located at “Tent City” near Route 80 in Lowndes county. The March 23rd campsite was near Route 80 and west of the Lowndes and Montgomery county border. The campsite on March 24th was located at the City of St. Jude in Montgomery near the state capitol. These Rare Photos of the Selma March Place You in the Thick of History

James Barker was a technical photographer, working with Washington State University's Division of Industrial Research in Pullman, Washington, when he received an unexpected phone call from a colleague: the university had pulled emergency funds together to send three representatives to Selma, Alabama, in anticipation of the third march organized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The WSU group would join tens of thousands of others from around the country, compelled to join King and civil rights marchers after the violent outcome of the first march, dubbed Bloody Sunday, had left 17 marchers injured at the hands of state and local police. Barker, who spent his weekends and vacations conducting photographic studies of people (migrant workers in Yakima, for instance, or a redevelopment area in San Francisco) had been shortlisted. If he were selected to attend the march, his colleague told him, he'd be on a plane that evening bound for the Deep South.

Related Content

"I was aware of the kind of violence that was pictured of the attempt of the first march, but of course, it was a long ways away," Barker says. "It all happened extraordinarily quickly. The first thing I did [after the call] was go to the refrigerator and see if there was enough film. I was operating in an utter frenzy, wondering what to carry in order to be able to be portable and move very quickly."

Later that day, Barker found out that he had been selected by the university to travel to Selma. In preparing to head to Alabama, Barker chose his photography equipment carefully, optimizing for simplicity and ease of movement. He took a single Leica with a moderate wide angle lens, which allowed him to take photographs up-close, from inside the march. "My involvement was more of a participant observer, not a press person looking from the outside thinking what kind of story can a photo generate," he says.

Barker and his colleagues arrived in Montgomery, Alabama, the Saturday before the march—which would end up being the third attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery. A pair of volunteers, both black, drove the all-white group from the airport to Selma throughout the march, volunteers were dispatched to shuttle people (as well as supplies) between Montgomery, Selma and various march sites.

"As we were driving, I was thinking 'When does the photography start?' I looked out of the car at the back and noticed there was a state trooper following us. I pulled out my camera ready to take a photograph, and the driver, who was black, said 'I wish you wouldn't do that, we don't want anything to happen that would prompt them to stop us.' His wife or girlfriend said, 'Those who protect us we fear.'" Barker says. "I thought, 'My god, that's quite a statement.' It's such a different world than what we grew up in on the West Coast."

Barker and his colleagues were taken to Brown Chapel, in Selma, where the march was being organized. He began taking photographs in earnest when they arrived at the chapel and continued to quietly snap photographs throughout the remainder of his time in Alabama, which stretched from the day before the march left Selma to the Wednesday when they reached Montgomery (Barker participated on the first day of the march as well as the last). "Wednesday morning I went out and rejoined the march," Barker says, which had dwindled to 300 people through rural Alabama as per an agreement between organizers and the state. "As I got out of the car, it was an absolute deluge of rain, and here were the thousands of people that had already joined the marchers coming through the rain."

Wednesday night, he snapped his final photograph of the march: a group of teenagers singing. "I really felt that that particular picture of the kids was a highlight of all that had transpired," Barker says.

When he returned to Pullman, Barker immediately processed the film. "I looked at the contact sheets," he says, "and I thought 'Did I really make it? Do I have anything worthwhile?'" The contact sheets sat untouched for over a week, until Barker decided to hurriedly print 74 images, which he hung up in the WSU library. By that time, though, the school year had ended, and the majority of students had left campus.

For years, the photographs traveled throughout the country, hanging on walls of churches and museums. Five years ago, the photographs found their way to the Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, and a few years after that, during a show in Arizona, attracted the attention of a New York art gallery. This March, the photos will head to New York City for a show at the Kasher Gallery.

Nearly 50 years after the march, Barker, who says he is best known today for his photographs of Eskimos in Alaska—took time to answer a few questions from Smithsonian.com. 

In photographing the marches and documenting this piece of history, did you have a particular approach in mind? What did you hope to capture in your images?

What I do, through all of my work, is try to carve out personalities of people and interactions—anything possible to show the emotions of who people are and their involvement with each other.

That was the whole attempt. I wasn't conscious of trying to say anything other than 'Here are the people that are involved in this.' During the march there were people on the side standing there glaring at the marchers, and there are a couple of pictures of cars that drove by, and I wanted to cover that hostility so that it shows the environment. But I always just look for who the people are. That has always been my primary goal.

My photographs dwell on individuals, and it takes a number of my pictures for people to understand the message of it. 

How did the experience of the march compare with your expectations of how it would be?

When we arrived at Brown chapel, they said that it's safest to remain in that area. That was quite a shock. There was a feeling of this almost kind of utopia of people who were all there with a single purpose in mind, having to do with the march, and yet a few blocks away was this ring where there was a question of safety. 

When I was taken up to Montgomery, in the church near the capitol, I looked up and saw the capitol just completely ringed by state police. I didn't leave the church because of the feeling of not knowing what the safety of the environment was it was real clear I would be seen as an outsider. 

As a photographer, how did the people participating in the march react to your presence? 

I was operating, as I oft do, as a participant observer. I was there in the middle of the march, carrying a backpack, at times chatting with people, but there were other people there also taking snapshots. 

Throughout my life, as I've been photographing situations, something has happened that I really can't entirely explain. Often, I'll be photographing in an event, and when people see the pictures, they'll say, 'This is amazing, I didn’t even know you were there.' I’m 6'2, it's a little surprising that I can mill around in the middle of people and photograph people rather closely and intimately without their seeming to know that I’m there. 

I try to work very quickly, capturing moments of interaction and expression, but at the same time, purposely try to avoid making eye contact. If you don't make eye contact, people don't seem to be aware that you're there.

The whole thing was just to be in the middle of a crowd of people and photograph, and not in any way to intrude.

Decades after the march—the movie Selma has come out, there have been more contemporary marches dealing with more recent injustices foisted upon black communities in America—what can we learn from looking back at this moment in these photographs? 

Two summers ago, I decided to reprint the exhibit, because it's been recognized that the original prints have considerable historic value, and we decided that we would never exhibit them again. I was reprinting the exhibit in the middle of the summer at the time when the Supreme Court decision came down and gutted one of the major parts of the Voter's Rights Act, and immediately states—including Alabama—changed their laws, which in effect becomes voter suppression.

All I feel I can do is try to put the human element into this—who the people are, that they’re not anonymous people that were very much involved in the march and the demonstrations. Just trying to humanize the whole thing.


These Iconic Photos Of The 1965 Selma March Give A Powerful Glimpse Of The Historic Protest

The racial tension that gripped Alabama in the 1960s resulted in some of the most iconic moments of the Civil Rights movement that have been captured and retold over time.

The 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery was arguably one of the more historic events -- and it has prompted renewed focus on and awareness of the incredible fight for voting rights, most recently retold through the lens of director Ava Duvernay and her film “Selma.”

Now, another artist also aims to share additional insight from the front lines of the same protest, which marked a peak moment in the fight for racial equality and social justice.

Photographer Stephen Somerstein chronicled the Selma demonstration through a series of images that authentically portray the events that took place over the course of the 54-mile march.

“When Dr. King called on Americans to join him in a massive protest march to Montgomery, I knew that important, nation-changing history was unfolding and I wanted to capture its power and meaning with my camera,” said Somerstein, who was then the managing editor and picture editor of the City College of New York student newspaper.

Somerstein took more than 400 photos during the five-day march. A special showcase at the New-York Historical Society, which was on display last year, includes a selection of 46 of the iconic images.

Meanwhile, the historical society has shared a few of the photos of the march exclusively with The Huffington Post to give you a glimpse of the reality at the time and the powerful moments that took place:


Watch the video: Dr. King Said It: Im Black and Im Proud! (November 2022).

Video, Sitemap-Video, Sitemap-Videos