A Confederate manufacturing center during the American Civil War,
Selma, Alabama, became the site of civil rights tragedy and victory.
After the 1964 Civil Rights Act took effect, Martin Luther King
Jr. sought to specifically pursue voting rights for African Americans.
King and his followers chose the
city of Selma to focus the nation’s attention on the need
for further Civil Rights legislation. In 1965, demonstrations began
in Selma. A march was planned for Sunday, March 7, from Selma to
Montgomery, which is Alabama’s capital. In Montgomery a petition
demanding that African Americans be allowed to vote was to be delivered
to Governor George Wallace. When protesters reached the Edmund Pettus
Bridge, they were met by police and state troopers. The marchers
were savagely beaten, and over sixty were injured, while sixteen
had to be hospitalized due to severe injuries. Another brutal incident
took place in Selma several days later on “Bloody Sunday”
when a protesting minister was beaten to death. The nation responded
with outrage to these violent episodes, and President Johnson pledged
his support for a voting
rights bill. On March 21, protesters finally completed their
march from Selma to Montgomery.