Throughout the the Civil Rights era, there were a number of demonstrations, sit-in’s and marches that took place across the Southern U.S. states. Many were peaceful, while others turned violent. Among the most violent demonstrations was one over the the voting rights of African Americans. This particular demonstration shocked Americans across the country, as well as others around the world. This event is known as “Bloody Sunday”
March 7th, 1965…the date when around 600 civil rights marchers were brutally attacked by state and local police in Montgomery, Alabama.
Residents of Selma were intimidated and descriminated against being able to vote three weeks earlier. There was an uproar after the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson who died in the hospital after being shot by an Alabama State Trooper on February 18th, 1965. Black residents angered by the violations against them hoped to bring attention to the matter. The march, guided by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was put together to seek protection by Governor George Wallas for black residents seeking registration. Wallace was against the march, denouncing it as a threat to public safety and fought to see that the march would not take place. The march was led by Rev. Hosea Williams and John Lewis. Rosa Parks was among the demonstrators that participated in the march. They made it about six blocks into their demonstration route before being blocked by state troopers. Although it was a peaceful demonstration, the marchers were brutally beated by officers with billy clubs and bull whips. Tear gas was thrown into the crowd….all in front of the media.
The beatings were televised and watched by horrified viewers…which ultimately helped in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. One demonstrator, Amelia Boynton Robinson, was photographed near death. She was beaten and gassed. Her photographs were published on the front page of many newspapers and magazines around the world. The day was named “Bloody Sunday” due to its violent attack on the demonstrators from Selma. There were 17 people hospitalized due to the attack.
Dr. King organized a second demonstration for March 9th, this time calling for outraged citizens around the country to participate. Around 2,500 angry viewers and community members responded to the call and marched from Selma to Montgomery. They attempted to seek protection through the courts to ensure a repeat assult would not take place, but instead the courts prevented the march from taking place by issuing a retraining order until they could hold additional hearings on the matter. So, at that time, there was a “ceremonial” march.
A third attempt was made and this time was successful, without the repeat of violence.
**Today, the original route of the march is known as the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail**