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The Selma Montgomery March Essay

2617 words - 10 pages

The Selma-Montgomery March

The Civil Rights Movement began in order to bring equal rights and equal voting rights to black citizens of the US. This was accomplished through persistent demonstrations, one of these being the Selma-Montgomery March. This march, lead by Martin Luther King Jr., targeted at the disenfranchisement of negroes in Alabama due to the literacy tests. Tension from the governor and state troopers of Alabama led the state, and the whole nation, to be caught in the violent chaos caused by protests and riots by marchers. However, this did not prevent the March from Selma to Montgomery to accomplish its goals abolishing the literacy tests and allowing black citizens the right to vote.

At the time, Selma was populated by 15,100 Negroes and 14,400 whites, a probable place to start such a cause. The protests began when Martin Luther King Jr., and a couple of other people, registered in a white hotel. James Baldwin was there. However, when more blacks tried to register, they were arrested by the county sheriff. This resulted in marches and protests. One of the first riots involved around 400 demonstrators who were dispersed by state troopers. During the protest, one man, Jim Lee Jackson, was shot and killed, presumably by a state trooper. (“Central Point” 23).

Enraged with the death of Jim, around 650 protestors gathered again on March 7 and attempted a march through Selma to Montgomery, ignoring Governor Wallace’s orders not to march. They again met with state troopers and a crueler response. A wall of state troopers was formed at US Highway 80 to stop the march. After refusing the orders from the police to stop the march, the troopers took action. The protestors were beat by mounted officers, equipped with bull whips and clubs, and suffocated with tear gas. The brutality from this event can be summarized by one marcher who was reported saying, “My God, we’re being killed.” This malevolent act sent the entire nation in an uproar, sparking riots in major US cites and even in Toronto. The protests and riots gained so much popular support as to gain the attention of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who declared that he “deplored the brutality.” King was also determined to march from Selma to Montgomery in order to present the governor with the proposal for voting rights and to continue fighting the oppression (“Central Point” 24).

March 16 saw a demonstration in Montgomery, Alabama in which 580 demonstrators planned to march “from the Jackson Street Baptist Church to the Montgomery County Courthouse” (Reed 26). These protestors included a large number of northern college students. They met a police line a few blocks from the Courthouse and were forbidden from proceeding because “they did not have a parade permit” (Reed 26). Across the street came 40 or so students who planned on joining the group en route to the Courthouse. Eventually a few of the demonstrators dared to...

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