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:
http://www.crmvet.org/docs/6503_sncc_bloodysunday_rpt.pdf

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)

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