1965 March 16

LBJ Sends Federal Troops to Guard Selma Voting Rights March


The initial attempt by civil rights activists to march from Selma to Montgomery to demand voting rights was met with massive police brutality on March 7, 1965, the now-infamous “Bloody Sunday.” A court injunction temporarily held up the march, but it began again on this day and reached Montgomery on March 25, 1965. President Lyndon Johnson dispatched 2,500 U.S. Army troops and 1,900 Alabama National Guard troops under federal command to provide protection for marchers.

The Selma-to-Montgomery march galvanized the nation and played a major role in the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. President Lyndon Johnson gave a nationally televised speech in support of voting rights on March 15, 1965, and it is regarded as one of the greatest presidential speeches in American history. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act and Johnson signed it into law on August 6, 1965.

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

Watch newsreels of the Selma-Montgomery march: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM-tfj6lp6w

Watch Lyndon Johnson’s Voting Rights Speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxEauRq1WxQ

Learn more: Ari Berman, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America (2015)

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

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