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Selma To Montgomery March Of 1956

1817 words - 7 pages

Marching for Freedom

On a grey Sunday morning in March of 1965, Alabama State Troopers at the orders of Governor George Wallace advanced on a group of African-Americans leading a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Using bull-whips, Billy clubs and tear gas, the armed troopers made short work of the defenseless protestors, injuring 57 of them while enforcing the strict segregation of the South. The march which was supposed to start in Selma and end at the state capitol in Montgomery was organized by voting rights leaders after a civil rights activist, Jimmie Lee Jackson, had been killed during a protest. Those who organized the march included chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) John Lewis and Hosea William, an assistant to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Voting rights campaign led by the SNCC had targeted Selma because it had one of the lowest ratios of African-American voters to white voters. Out of an eligible 15,000 Selmans, only 200 were registered to vote. The SNCC worked on cracking literacy tests, protesting poll taxes and staging sit-ins at registration centers in order to get blacks registered to vote. White responses a protest led by the SNCC caused the death of SNCC activist Jimmie Lee Jackson and in turn sparked the call for a protest march to Montgomery. After the first march brutally ended on “Bloody Sunday” as it came to be known, a second march was planned which would be co-led by the SNCC and Martin Luther King’s SCLC. A federal injunction allowed the march to take place without interference from the Alabama government. Between March 19th and March 23rd, 1965, thousands of voting rights activists both black and white marched the fifty miles from Selma to Montgomery to the steps of the Alabama State Capitol. Five months later in August of 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which banned literacy tests, poll taxes and other hindrances designed to impede black success.

The media followed these marches very closely as they gathered more and more national attention. The events of “Bloody Sunday” had been caught on tape by NBC reporters and were aired live nationally the very same night after the event occurred. Most major newspapers including the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune ran big cover story articles on the march, many of which included pictures. One article written by Roy Reed of the New York Times thoroughly describes the events of police brutality that were occurring. John Lewis, chairman of the SNCC, cites Reed’s very same article in his book, “Walking With the wind; a memoir of the movement”, as he describes the events of the “Bloody Sunday.” Lewis states that he recalled receiving letters and phone calls the day after the event from people as far away as Minnesota and New York (Lewis, 332) who were registering their support with the protestors. The media was undoubtedly one of the key assets in...

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