Selma, Alabama – Marching to vote Lesson Starter: Write down the five things you should focus on when answering a How useful… question.
Background • In January and February 1965, protests were held in Selma to highlight the treatment of black Americans. • On Feb 17th a civil rights activist, Jimmy Lee Jackson was shot at close range by a State Trooper. • Jackson was unarmed.
Lead up to Selma March • Civil rights leaders, including MLK, decided to hold a peaceful protest. • MLK was arrested in early February for his involvement in civil rights protests. • MLK used this time to draw attention to the situation in Selma.
MLK speech printed in NY Times “ Why are we in jail? When the civil rights act of 1964 was passed many decent Americans thought the day of difficult struggle. By jailing hundreds of Negroes the city of Selma, Alabama has revealed the persisting ugliness of segregation. There are more Negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting register. This is the USA in 1965. We are in jail because we cannot tolerate these conditions for our nation.”
7th March 1965 – 600 protestors begin marching from Selma to Birmingham. • 200 state troopers block the protesters. • When protesters refused to turn back, the troopers attacked them using tear gas, sticks and bull whips. • 17 people were injured.
America was shocked by the violence used against the protesters. • The incident was known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ and was a turning point in the campaign for fair voting.
MLK won support, and protection, from the US government for a second march on 21st March. • By the time the march reached Birmingham it had 25,000 participants. • MLK addressed the protestors.
Within hours of MLK’s speech, Viola Liuzzo a white Civil Rights volunteer, was shot and killed by KKK members.
Was it a success? • MLK and other leaders knew there would be violence and lots of publicity. • They hoped this would force the government to act. • In August, 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed. • This removed barriers to voting and was a huge victory for the civil rights campaign. • Within 3 years most Black Americans were registered to vote. This meant politicians would have to listen to their needs too if they wanted to stay in power.
Revision of Civil Rights Movements in the 50s and 60s. • Create a mind map / timeline / diagram of the main Civil Rights protests in the 1950s / 60s. • Bus Boycott • Sit-Ins • Freedom Rides • Birmingham Protest • Selma Protests