How the Marches Made a Change

The Bloody Sunday march and the police-led violence motivated people from all over the country to travel to Selma to support the cause and finish the disrupted march to Montgomery.

Completing the March

On March 9, Dr. King led another march from Selma (“Turn Around Tuesday”), but turned back in accordance with a federal court order. Once receiving federal clearance,  the third march succeeded.

On March 22, marchers completed their five-day journey to Montgomery. When the marchers reached the State Capitol, King delivered a powerful speech, declaring at the end, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Government Response

After this violent episode, President Lyndon Johnson called for comprehensive voting rights legislation. In his speech to Congress on March 15, 1965, Johnson explained how election officials in the South denied African American citizens the vote. He called on lawmakers to empower the federal government to protect the right to vote nationwide.

Worldwide publicity of the Selma marches finally pushed Congress to pass legislation that would guarantee voting rights for all Americans. Congress determined that the existing federal anti-discrimination laws were not strong enough to overcome some states’ unwillingness to enforce the 15th Amendment. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, 1965.