1965 March 7

“Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama


“Bloody Sunday” was one of the most famous events in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Six hundred civil rights activists assembled in Selma, Alabama, planning to march to the state capitol in Montgomery to demand the right to vote. The march was led by leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Just short of the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, the road was blocked by 200 Alabama State troopers and local police – ordered in by Alabama Gov. George Wallace – who demanded that they turn around. When protesters refused, the officers fired teargas and then attacked the demonstrators, beating the nonviolent protesters with clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over 50 people.

At the head of the line, leading the march, was John Lewis, then a leader of SNCC. He was savagely beaten. Later he became a respected member of Congress.

Newsreel images of “Bloody Sunday” were televised around the world and roused support for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. President Lyndon Johnson gave a strong voting rights speech on March 15, 1965, and the march resumed on March 21, 1965, reaching Montgomery on March 25, 1965. The Selma crisis led directly to passage of the historic 1965 Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965.

Watch newsreel footage of Bloody Sunday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM-tfj6lp6w

Read the original SNCC report on the incident:

Visit the Edmund Pettus Bridge: www.nps.gov/semo/historyculture/edmund-winston-pettus-bridge.htm

Read: David Garrow, Protest at Selma: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (1978)

Don’t Miss the Acclaimed Film: Selma (2015)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!