Selma to Montgomery Marches Facts

Selma to Montgomery Marches Facts
The Selma to Montgomery Marches was a series of three protest marches by civil rights activists in Alabama during March 1965. The marches, which began in the central Alabama town of Selma and went to the state capital in Montgomery, were in protest of Alabama's Jim Crow laws, voting restrictions on blacks, and violence used by the police and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to enforce those laws. Voter registration drives organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and other groups in predominantly black central Alabama were met with resistance, sometimes violent, by many whites in the early 1960s. The culmination of the violence came when civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson was killed by an Alabama state trooper on February 26, 1965, which prompted civil rights activists to organize the March marches. The first two marches took place on March 7 and March 9, which ended in violent actions by the state police and whites opposed to the march. The third march, which began on March 21, was protected by federalized National Guardsmen, FBI agents, and U.S. Marshals under President Lyndon Johnson's orders. The marchers made it to Montgomery on March 24, their numbers having swelled to about 25,000. The Selma to Montgomery Marches are often credited by historians as being one of the primary reasons for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Interesting Selma to Montgomery Marches Facts:
The marches were primarily organized by Martin Luther King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the SNCC, although the two groups had major doctrinal differences.
James Bevel was the primary organizer of the march for the SCLC.
The March 7 march began with about 600 activists marching from Selma on U.S. Highway 80, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge before they were stopped by state police officers and a mob of angry whites.
Since so many activists were hospitalized as a result of the violence and it took place on a Sunday, the March 7 march became known as "Bloody Sunday."
Bevel and King promoted the second march as a call for clergy across the country, black and white, to participate.
During the second march on March 9, King led about 2,500 marchers to the bridge and then promptly turned around, obeying a court restraining order that prohibited further marches until more hearings on the matter were held.
King's decision to obey the restraining order became known as "turnaround Tuesday," The move also caused an already apparent rift between the SCLC and the SNCC.
Boston Unitarian minister James Reeb was beaten by Klansmen on the evening of the second march and died two days later from his injuries.
On March 17 a federal judge ruled that the state of Alabama could no longer interfere with the march, which gave President Johnson the legal power to protect it with federal officers and guardsmen.
Alabama governor George Wallace, who was a staunch segregationist, finally back downed once the ruling was made. There was no anti-marcher violence during the third march.
The fifty-four mile route the marchers took from Selma to Montgomery was dedicated as a National Historic Trail in 1996.

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