Side 1 'Bloody Sunday' Attack at Edmund Pettus Bridge
A voting registration campaign in 1965 turned tragic Feb. 17 when an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson in Marion. It prompted a protest march from Selma to Montgomery that triggered a milestone event in the Civil Rights Movement.
On March 7, John Lewis and Hosea Williams led a group of 600 African Americans from Brown Chapel AME Church six blocks and across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. State Public Service Director Al Lingo ordered armed troopers to attack the marchers, hospitalizing 50.
Two weeks later, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy led a court-approved march with federal protection. It covered 54 miles and reached the State Capitol on March 25. In a speech before 25,000, King said "the arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." Racists killed Boston minister James Reeb on March 11 and Detroit housewife Viola Gregg Liuzzo on March 25.
The marker was unveiled in March 2015 during the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Selma Voting Rights Movement
U.S. Congress Approves Voting Rights Act of 1965
Television coverage of 'Bloody Sunday' shocked millions and galvanized support for Congress to remove obstacles that prevented minorities from voting. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on Aug. 6. As a result, many blacks won local elections in the South.
In 2007, a bridge crossing reenactment attracted presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. When Obama won the Democratic nomination the following year, he spoke of the bridge in Selma in his acceptance speech. In 2009, nearly two million witnessed
the inauguration of America's first black president.
"Selma," the Oprah Winfrey and Ava DuVernay film about voting rights,
was nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award shortly before the 50th anniversary of 'Bloody Sunday.'