Key Moments in the Fight for Civil Rights

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March, 1965 – March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama

On March 7, demonstrators start a 54-mile march in response to an activist’s murder. They are protesting his death and the unfair state laws and local violence that keep African Americans from voting. Led by SNCC activists John Lewis and Hosea Williams, about 525 peaceful marchers are violently assaulted by state police near the Edmund Pettus Bridge outside Selma.

Television networks broadcast the attacks of “Bloody Sunday” nationwide, creating outrage at the police, and sympathy for the marchers. Alabama police turn back a second march, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and other religious leaders, on March 9. Following a federal judicial review, the march is allowed to resume, escorted by the National Guard. On March 25, 25,000 marchers arrive at the State Capitol building in Montgomery. Soon afterward, the U.S. Congress will pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, forcing states to end discriminatory voting practices.

Much of this text is excerpted, with permission, from the website for the American Experience series Eyes on the Prize. Read more about these events and others on that site.

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