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March on Montgomery Toward the Voting Rights Act

The Selma to Montgomery March marked the height of the battle for African American enfranchisement. The march was actually three marches that took place in the month of March, 1965.

Setting the Stage: Bloody Sunday

On March 7th, about 600 voting rights activists started a march from Selma to Alabama’s capital, Montgomery. They were led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). At the time, less than 1% of eligible Black citizens were registered to vote in Dallas County, Alabama, where Selma was located.

At Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge, the marchers were brutally attacked by Alabama state troopers wearing gas masks, along with local police and a posse of whites on horseback. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday” because of the unprovoked, extreme police violence against peaceful marchers. Television footage of the attack shocked the nation.

Bloody Sunday

Bloody Sunday 1965 with John Lewis Interview