Selma to Montgomery Marches

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The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail commemorates the events, people, and route of the 1965 Voting Rights March in Alabama. Fifty four miles between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama helped to change American history. From 1870, the Constitution of the United States guaranteed the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude,” but a number of States sought to prevent African Americans from being able to register to vote, Alabama was one of them. Led by Dr. Martin Luther King and John Lewis in January of 1965, marchers went to the Dallas County Courthouse in Selma to rally for voting rights. Dr. King and another protester were arrested, and Jimmie Lee Jackson was killed. The first group of approximately 500 Civil Rights advocates left Brown Chapel on March 7 and attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to march along US Rte. 80 to Montgomery, the State capital. Alabama State Police blocked the road and ordered the assembled marchers to disperse. When the marchers refused, the troopers attacked and beat them, and forced them back to Brown Chapel, this was called “Bloody Sunday.” A second march occurred on March 9, but only as far as the Pettis Bridge. Judge, Frank M. Johnson, concluded that for marchers barred from political participation, social demonstration was a legal way in Alabama and elsewhere to have a voice in the political process. He also allowed third march, under the protection of the Federal Government. The third march Began on March 21 and ended peacefully on March 25, 1965. In August of 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, granting the redress sought to people who marched and countless others. Their march from Selma to Montgomery, the capital, was a success, leading to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of
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