The Selma-to-Montgomery March ended here on March 25, 1965, when 25,000 civil rights marchers arrived at the Alabama State Capitol to demand the right to vote for African Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders addressed the marchers and the nation, culminating a series of demonstrations that began in Selma on March 7 - "Bloody Sunday" - when some 600 peaceful protesters were savagely beaten by lawmen as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
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In January 1965, activists led by Dr. King launched a series of voter registration drives and demonstrations to secure the right of black citizens to register and vote in Alabama elections - a constitutional right impeded by Gov. George Wallace and other officials. They were met with state-sponsored terrorism. On the night of February 18 in Marion, amid a melee that began when police started clubbing peaceful protesters, a state trooper shot and killed a young black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson. Infuriated by Jackson's murder, leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference called upon residents of Alabama's Black Belt counties to peacefully march on the Alabama Capitol to demand voting reforms. Less than five months after the last of the three marches, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
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