On this day in 1965, a civil rights march took place from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama; it became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’. At this stage, the Civil Rights Movement had been in motion for over a decade and already achieved legislative success with the Civil Rights Act. However the focus of the movement now became making the promise of equal franchise guaranteed in the Fifteenth Amendment a reality. While African-Americans exercised the right to vote in the years after the amendment’s passage in 1870, discriminatory measures like literacy tests, poll taxes, and grandfather clauses were soon implemented across the country to deprive them of the vote. Thus in 1965 civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. made voter registration the core of their efforts, centering the campaign on the particularly discriminatory Selma, AL. On March 7th - 'Bloody Sunday’ - as the six hundred unarmed marchers were crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were descended upon by state troopers who viciously beat the protestors. The violence encountered by these peaceful marchers, which was captured on television and broadcast around the world, led to national outcry and caused President Johnson to publicly call for the passage of his administration’s proposed voting rights bill. After securing the support of federal troops, another march was held on March 21st, and with the protection of soldiers the marchers managed to arrive in Montgomery after three days. The marchers were met in Montgomery - the epicentre of the movement and the site of the 1954 bus boycott - by 50,000 supporters, who were addressed by King. Their efforts were rewarded when, in August of that year, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act that ensured all Americans could vote. This was one of the crowning achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, and the Selma to Montgomery march is commemorated as one of the most important moments of the struggle.
“We are on the move and no wave of racism can stop us. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now…not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom” - King’s 'Address at the Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March’ - 25th March, 1965
“Because of what they did, the doors of opportunity swung open not just for African-Americans, but for every
American,” President Barack Obama said, standing in front of the Edmund
Pettus Bridge where the violence took place.
this day in 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs
and Freedom took place. The march was a key moment of the Civil Rights
Movement, and a triumph for the nonviolence philosophy which underpinned
the movement. The march is best remembered for Martin Luther King Jr.’s
famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, given in front of the Lincoln Memorial, which extolled King’s vision of an America free of racial discrimination. Other speakers included chairman of the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee John Lewis and veteran civil
rights leader A. Philip Randolph. When politicians in Washington heard
about the march many, including President John F. Kennedy, feared that
there would be violence and rioting. The peaceful gathering of over
250,000 supporters of civil rights, with many whites in attendance as
well as African-Americans, highlighted issues of racial discrimination and unequal housing and employment. The demonstration in the nation’s capital, and King’s speech in particular, spurred America into action and paved the way for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act, vital tools in the fight for racial equality.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live
out the true meaning of its creed. ‘We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal’… I have a
dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where
they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of
“Happy Birthday to civil rights and women’s rights activist Dorothy Height! Born in 1912, Height dedicated her life to the Civil Rights Movement. Though Height was frustrated that women were often treated as inferiors within the Civil Rights Movement, she helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and attended MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech.“
“Women were the foot soldiers. Women strategized boycotts. Women organized marches. Even if they weren’t allowed to run the civil rights organizations on paper, behind the scenes they were the thinkers and the doers making things happen each and every day, doing the work that nobody else wanted to do.” —President Obama on the Civil Rights Movement
Leonard Freed ::
Holding hands at the March on Washington, one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history and where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Washington, DC, August 28, 1963 [Magnum Photos]
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An unsung hero in the civil & women’s rights movement, she was a key organizer for the “March on Washington” with MLK Jr, was a president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, and received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom & Congressional Gold Medal. She even scored a Google Doodle. What?
CultureHISTORY: The Selma March - #AmericanHistory - 50th Anniversary
Mediating this weekend on the stunning bravery and the sheer will of the Selma protestors. They gave their bodies, their bones and their voices to something bigger than them. The Civil Rights movement and the battle for justice. They will always be our heroes.