1965 March 11

Boston Minister Dies After Beating by White Racists in Selma


Rev. James Reeb was a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston who went to Selma, Alabama, to participate in the famous Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march. Two days after the infamous “Bloody Sunday,” when the march was halted by police violence (March 7, 1965), Reeb and two other ministers were attacked by white racists wielding clubs. Reeb sustained serious head injuries and died on this day. President Lyndon Johnson referred to Reeb’s death in his Voting Rights speech to Congress and the nation on March 15, 1965. Three white men were arrested and tried but acquitted. In 2007, the Justice Department reopened an investigation as part of its Cold Case Program for old civil rights cases. The James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Madison, Wisconsin, is named in his honor.

Learn more about Rev. James Reeb here.

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

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