By: Te’Asia Calhoun

In 1965, the march from Selma to Montgomery occurred, marking a seminal moment in the Civil Rights Movement. The march took three days and protesters marched for 54 miles, in a unified demonstration focused on ending voter suppression. The march was not easy, but the protestors persisted. The protestors were met with violence on their journey and literally fought for their rights.


Voter registration was the main reason the march took place, as for a long time Black people had been denied the right to vote. In Selma, only two percent of the black population was registered to vote, which was approximately 300 out of 15,000 in the Black population. 

On February 18, 1965, a group of white segregationists attacked a peaceful demonstration. An Alabama state trooper fatally shot a young African-American male, Jimmie Lee Jackson. In response to the shooting, King and SCLC planned a march, a group of 600 people on March 7, 1965, set out to protest. Bloody Sunday then occurred. The protestors were met with sticks, whips, and tear gas at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. John Lewis, who later became a congressman from the state of Georgia, was one the youngest marchers. He suffered a fractured skull in the incident. The scene was put into the light and shown on television for all to see.

Bloody Sunday didn’t deter the marchers from fighting for their rights. King led nearly 2,000 marchers of different races on March 9, 1965, across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They came to a halt when Highway 80 was blocked by state troopers. King then gave a prayer. King decided the marchers should turn around because he believed the troopers were going to cause trouble. Some marchers called King a coward and didn’t like his decision. But this was a good decision, as a group of white segregationists beat to death a White minister, James Reeb who participated in the march.

On March 15, 1965, Lyndon B. Johnson went on national television and gave a speech saying the Selma marchers were doing the right thing. He said this issue is everybody’s problem, not just African-Americans, and that “we” as a nation needed to create a solution. He also called for a new voting rights bill to pass. On March 21, 1965, 2,000 people marched out of Selma with protection from the U.S. Army troops, and after marching 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields, the marchers finally made it to Montgomery on March 25. 


In August of 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act granted the right to all African-Americans so we could be able to vote. The act, along with the Civil Rights Act, was one of the most expansive pieces of civil rights legislation in American history. To this day, however, voter suppression exists in this nation and continues to hinder many people of color.  

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