Bloody Sunday - 1965

Marchers are crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on their way to Montgomery, when they are stopped by Alabama troopers and local police.

March 7, 1965
Selma, Alabama


The African-American Civil Rights Movement aimed at restoring suffrage in Southern States. The Dallas Country Voters League (DCVL) began voting registrations in 1963. However, there was white resistance to African Americans’ voter registrations, so DCVL requested the aid of Martin Luther King Jr.
and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Demonstrators fighting for suffrage in Selma, Alabama, chose to protest for their rights by marching to Montgomery, Alabama. They led three marches in total. The first occurred on March 7, 1965, when six hundred demonstrators crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River, on their way to Montgomery. Alabama officers stopped the demonstrators and gave them orders to turn around. However, the protestors refused and the police responded by attacking the nonviolent demonstrators and beating them with clubs. Troopers fired tear gas and charged the crowd on horseback. Around fifty people were hospitalized, and the incident acquired its nickname "Bloody Sunday".
The second march took place on March 9, and the third on March 21. This final march succeeded in reaching its destination of Montgomery, spanning 51 miles and lasting for five days.


Important People and Organizations

  • Boynton Family (Amelia, Sam, and son Bruce) led the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) which attempted to register African American citizens for voting in the 1950's and earl 1960's. They also invited Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to Selma. This invitation aided the DCVL and civil rights activists greatly. Amelia Boynton was later beaten and gassed nearly to death on Bloody Sunday.
  • White Citizens' Council and Klu Klux Klan blocked the efforts of the DCVL, along with local and state officials who were also against African American suffrage in the South.
  • John Lewis led fifty African Americans to become registered. Instead of being granted the right to vote, they were arrested. He later led the march on Bloody Sunday, accompanied by Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC, Bob Mants, and Albert Turner.
  • Judge James Hare issued a rule that banned congregations of two or more people that discussed civil rights or voter registration in Selma.
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference accepted the request of Amelia Boynton to bring their organization to Selma and aid the civil rights activists. Some main organizers from SCLC included James Bevel, Diane Nash, and James Orange.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King addressed a meeting in Brown Chapel on the official start of the Selma Voting Rights Movement. He also issued the second march to Montgomery, but this march was postponed because the activists attempted to gain a court order which would prohibit the police from interfering.
  • Judge Frank Johnson ruled in favor of the demonstrators. He stated that the First Amendment granted them the right to protest, and that the state of Alabama could not with hold them from that right.


The third march from Selma to Montgomery was a success. This gave the demonstrators a chance to spread their message without being harassed by police and officials. Eventually, the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. This act was based on the 15th Amendment which prohibited the states from denying any citizen their right to vote based on race or color.