The three marches in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965 (only the third march actually made it to Montgomery) were the culmination of years of grass roots and national struggles for the right to vote for African Americans in the South. This was finally achieved by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Johnson on August 6, 1965. One of the greatest moments in American history was when the third march reached the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery with about 25,000 people and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his “How long? Not long.” speech to the nation and world.
The struggles were led by:
- SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) led by John Lewis, and others
- DCVL (Dallas County Voters League) led by Amelia Boynton Robinson, Samuel William Boynton, and others
- SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hosea Williams, James Bevel, Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy, and others
- NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
- CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
These were the three marches in March 1965 to go from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama, to demand voting rights for African Americans and for all citizens:
- The first march “Bloody Sunday” on March 7 was stopped by violent state trooper and local police at the Edmund Pettis Bridge.
- The second march “Turnaround Tuesday” on March 9 only went as far as the Edmund Pettis Bridge where it turned around when met by state troopers and local police.
- The third march on March 21 had the support of federal troops. It crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge and reached its final destination on March 25 at the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery.
"In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma" by Bernard LaFayette Jr. and Kathryn Lee Johnson
"From Selma to Montgomery: The Long March to Freedom" by Barbara Harris Combs
"Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65" by Taylor Branch
"Walking with the Wind" by John Lewis with Michael D’Orso
"An Easy Burden: The Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America" by Andrew Young
"Beware of Limbo Dancers: A Correspondent’s Adventures with the New York Times" by Roy Reed
"Bending Toward Justice" by Gary May
"My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr." by Coretta Scott King
Selma (2014) Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated in President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Available on Amazon Video, iTunes.
Selma Lord Selma (1999) A Disney film telling the story of a young school girl who is inspired by Dr. King, and how she and a white friend get involved in the movement. Available on DVD.
Articles on the March
Information on SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)
Information on DCVL (Dallas County Voters League)
Information on Literacy Tests
Information on the Voting Rights Act of 1965