Selma to Montgomery Marches • There were a series of protests in Dallas County and Perry County, Alabama to protest Voter Registration Jim Crow Laws the prevented blacks from registering to vote in the fall of 1964 to spring of 1965. • Organized by SNCC and led by John Lewis • During one protest on February 18, 1965 Jimmie Lee Jackson is shot and killed by a state trooper • This will lead to the first March from Selma to Montgomery to demand an investigation by the Governor.
The First March – March 7, 1965 • The first march leaves Selma peacefully on US Route 80. (600 participants) • As the march crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge they are met by a wall of State troopers and Sheriff James Clark. • The marchers are beaten and gassed. • Covered by national news.
The Second March – March 9, 1965 “Turnaround Tuesday” • The second March begins but is stopped by A Federal Court injunction (2500 participants) • The second March is led by Martin Luther King Jr. • The marchers stop and pray. • After the march, Rev. Reeb a white minister is attacked and killed.
The Third March – March 16, 1965 • Federal Judge gives permission for the March (8,000) participants. • The march of 51 miles ends on Montgomery capital steps where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers “How long, not long” speech. • The law is clear that the right to petition one's government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups . . . . These rights may . . . be exercised by marching, even along public highways.Williams v. Wallace, 240 F. Supp. 100, 106 (M.D. Ala. 1960).
IMPACT • On March 15, 1965 President Johnson has the Voting Rights Act of 1965 introduced into Congress • Following the deaths of Jimmie Lee Jackson and Rev. Reeb the Civil Rights Movement becomes increasingly violent. • In Selma more than 7,000 black voters are registered and the next year Sheriff James Clark is voted out of office. (he later serves a prison term for drug smuggling)