By Jueseppi B.
The Selma to Montgomery marches, also known as Bloody Sunday and the two marches that followed, were marches and protests held in 1965, that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. All three marches were attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery where the Alabama capitol is located. They grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). In 1963, the DCVL and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began voter-registration work. When white resistance to black voter registration proved intractable, the DCVL requested the assistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to support voting rights.
The first march took place on March 7, 1965 — “Bloody Sunday” — when 600 marchers, protesting the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and ongoing exclusion from the electoral process, were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. The second march, the following Tuesday, resulted in 2,500 protesters turning around after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The third march started March 16. The marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, they arrived in Montgomery on March 24, and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25.
The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, a U.S. National Historic Trail.
Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: AP
The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers — including a young Lewis — by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965.
The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South.
Fight For the Vote: 1963–64
Selma is the county seat and major town of Dallas County, Alabama. In 1961, the population of Dallas County was 57% black, but of the 15,000 blacks old enough to vote, only 130 were registered (fewer than 1%). At that time, more than 80% of Dallas County blacks lived below the poverty line, most of them working as sharecroppers, farm hands, maids, janitors, and day-laborers.
Led by the Boynton family (Amelia, Sam, and son Bruce), Rev. L.L. Anderson, J.L. Chestnut, and Marie Foster, the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) attempted to register black citizens during the late 1950′s and early 1960′s. Their efforts were blocked by state and local officials, the White Citizens’ Council, and the Ku Klux Klan. The methods included a literacy test, economic pressure, and violence.
In early 1963, SNCC organizers Bernard and Colia Lafayette arrived in Selma to begin a voter-registration project in cooperation with the DCVL. In mid-June, Bernard was beaten and almost killed by Klansmen determined to prevent blacks from voting. When the Lafayettes returned to school in the fall, SNCC organizers Prathia Hall and Worth Long carried on the work despite arrests, beatings, and death threats. When 32 black school teachers applied to register as voters, they were immediately fired by the all-white school board. After the Birmingham church bombing on September 15, black students in Selma began sit-ins at local lunch counters where they were attacked and arrested. More than 300 were arrested in two weeks of protests, including SNCC Chairman John Lewis.
October 7, 1963, was one of the two days per month that citizens were allowed to go to the courthouse to apply to register to vote. SNCC and the DCVL mobilized over 300 Dallas County blacks to line up at the voter registration office in what was called a “Freedom Day”. Supporting them were author James Baldwin and his brother David, and comedian Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian (who was arrested for picketing with SNCC activists and local supporters). SNCC members who tried to bring water to the blacks waiting on line were arrested, as were those who held signs saying “Register to Vote.” After waiting all day in the hot sun, only a handful of the hundreds in the line were allowed to fill out the voter application, and most of the applications were denied.
On July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, which declared segregation illegal, yet Jim Crow remained in effect. When attempts to integrate Selma’s dining and entertainment venues were resumed, blacks who tried to attend the movie theater and eat at the hamburger stand were beaten and arrested.
On July 6, John Lewis led 50 blacks to the courthouse on registration day, but Sheriff Clark arrested them rather than allow them to apply to vote. On July 9, Judge James Hare issued an injunction forbidding any gathering of three or more people under the sponsorship of civil rights organizations or leaders. This injunction made it illegal to even talk to more than two people at a time about civil rights or voter registration in Selma, suppressing public civil rights activity there for the next six fateful months.
Planning the First March
With civil rights activity blocked by Judge Hare’s injunction, the DCVL requested the assistance of King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Three of SCLC’s main organizers— SCLC’s Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education James Bevel, Diane Nash, and James Orange—, had been working on Bevel’s Alabama Voting Rights Project since late 1963, a project which King and the executive board of SCLC had not joined.
When SCLC officially accepted Amelia Boynton’s invitation to bring their organization to Selma, Bevel, Nash, Orange, and others in SCLC began working in Selma in December 1964. They also worked in the surrounding counties along with the SNCC staff who had been active there since early 1963.
The Selma Voting Rights Movement officially started on January 2, 1965, when King addressed a mass meeting inBrown Chapel in defiance of the anti-meeting injunction.
Over the following weeks, SCLC and SNCC activists expanded voter registration drives and protests in Selma and the adjacent Black Belt counties. In addition to Selma, marches and other protests in support of voting rights were held in Perry, Wilcox, Marengo, Greene, and Hale counties.
On February 18, 1965, C. T. Vivian led a march to the courthouse in Marion, the county seat of Perry County. State officials had received orders to target Vivian specifically, and so a line of Alabama state troopers waited for the marchers at the Perry County courthouse. All the street lights in that location turned off at once, and the state troopers rushed at the protesters and attacked them. One of the protesters with Vivian, Jimmie Lee Jackson, fled the scene with his mother to hide in a nearby café. Alabama State Trooper, corporal James Bonard Fowler, followed Jackson into the café and shot him as he tried to protect his mother. Jackson died eight days later, of an infection resulting from the gunshot wound, at Selma’s Good Samaritan Hospital.
Jackson was the only male wage-earner of his household, which lived in extreme poverty. Jackson’s father, wife and children were left with no source of income. After bringing this story to the attention of the SCLC, James Bevel called for a march from Selma to Montgomery to confront Governor Wallace directly about this death. On May 10, 2007, 42 years after the homicide, Fowler was charged with first degree and second degree murder for the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and subsequently surrendered to authorities. Fowler pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter on November 15, 2010. Mr. Fowler apologized for the shooting but insisted that he had acted in self-defense, believing that Mr. Jackson was trying to grab his gun. Fowler was sentenced to six months in prison.
Goals of the march
Bevel’s plan was to march to Montgomery to ask Governor George Wallace if he had anything to do with ordering the lights out and the state troopers to shoot during the march in which Jackson was killed. Bevel called the march in order to focus the anger and pain of the people of Selma, some of whom wanted to address Jackson’s death with violence, towards a nonviolent goal.. The marchers also hoped to bring attention to the violations of their rights by marching to Montgomery. Dr. King agreed with Bevel’s plan, and asked for a march from Selma to Montgomery to ask Governor Wallace to protect black registrants.
Wallace denounced the march as a threat to public safety and declared he would take all measures necessary to prevent this from happening.
First March: “Bloody Sunday”
On March 7, 1965, an estimated 525 to 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Highway 80. The march was led by John Lewisof SNCC and the Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC, followed by Bob Mants of SNCC and Albert Turner of SCLC. The protest went smoothly until the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and found a wall of state troopers waiting for them on the other side. Sheriff Jim Clark had issued an order for all white males in Dallas County over the age of twenty-one to report to the courthouse that morning to be deputized. Commanding officer John Cloud told the demonstrators to disband at once and go home. Williams tried to speak to the officer, but Cloud curtly informed him there was nothing to discuss. Seconds later, the troopers began shoving the demonstrators. Many were knocked to the ground and beaten with nightsticks. Another detachment of troopers fired tear gas. Mounted troopers charged the crowd on horseback.
Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: AP
Televised images of the brutal attack presented people with horrifying images of marchers left bloodied and severely injured, and roused support for the U.S. civil rights movement. Amelia Boynton was beaten and gassed nearly to death; her photo appeared on the front page of newspapers and news magazines around the world. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized, and the day was nicknamed “Bloody Sunday”.
Second March: “Turnaround Tuesday”
Immediately after “Bloody Sunday,” King began organizing a second march to be held on Tuesday, March 9, 1965. He issued a call for clergy and citizens from across the country to join him. Awakened to issues of civil and voting rights by years of Civil Rights struggles — from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to Freedom Summer — and shocked by the television images of “Bloody Sunday,” many hundreds of people responded to King’s call.
To prevent another outbreak of violence, the marchers attempted to gain a court order that would prohibit the police from interfering. Instead of issuing the court order, Federal District Court Judge Frank Minis Johnson issued a restraining order, preventing the march from taking place until he could hold additional hearings later in the week.
Based on past experience, SCLC was confident that Judge Johnson would eventually lift the restraining order and they did not want to alienate one of the few southern judges who was often sympathetic to their cause by violating his injunction. There was also insufficient infrastructure in place to support a long march, one for which the marchers were ill-equipped. Further, a person who violates a court order may be punished for contempt even if the order is later reversed. But movement supporters, both local and from around the country, were determined to march on Tuesday to protest the “Bloody Sunday” violence and the systematic denial of black voting rights in Alabama. To balance these conflicting imperatives, SCLC decided to hold a partial “ceremonial” march that would cross over the bridge but halt when ordered to do so in compliance with the injunction.
On March 9, a day that would become known as “Turnaround Tuesday”, King led about 2,500 marchers out to the Edmund Pettus Bridge and held a short prayer session before turning the marchers back around, thereby obeying the court order preventing them from marching all the way to Montgomery. But only the SCLC leaders were told of this plan in advance, causing confusion and consternation among many marchers, including those who had traveled long distances to participate and put their bodies on the line in nonviolent opposition to police brutality. King asked them to remain in Selma for another attempt at the march once the injunction was lifted.
That evening, three white ministers who had come for the march were attacked and beaten with clubs. The worst injured was James Reeb, a white Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston. Selma’s public hospital refused to treat Rev. Reeb, who had to be taken to Birmingham’s University Hospital, two hours away. Reeb died on Thursday, March 11 at University Hospital with his wife by his side.
Response to the Second March
Blacks in Dallas County and the Black Belt mourned the death of Reverend Reeb as they had earlier mourned the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. But many activists were bitter that the media and national political leaders expressed great concern over Reeb’s murder, but had paid scant attention to the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson. SNCC spokesman Stokely Carmichael was reported as saying “What you want is the nation to be upset when anybody is killed… but it almost [seems that] for this to be recognized, a white person must be killed.”
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, participating in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on March 21, 1965. First row, from far left: John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Bunche, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Fred Shuttlesworth. Second row: Visible behind (and between) Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Bunche is Rabbi Maurice Davis.
A week after Reeb’s death, March 16, Judge Johnson ruled in favor of the protestors, saying their First Amendment right to march in protest could not be abridged by the state of Alabama:
The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups . . . . These rights may . . . be exercised by marching, even along public highways.
On March 21, close to 8,000 people assembled at Brown Chapel to commence the trek to Montgomery.Most of the participants were black, but some were white and some were Asian and Latino. Spiritual leaders of multiple races religions and faith marched abreast with Dr. King, including Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Maurice Davis, and at least one nun, all of whom were depicted in a famous photo. In 1965, the road to Montgomery was four lanes wide going east from Selma, then narrowed to two lanes through Lowndes County, and then widened to four lanes again at Montgomery county border. Under the terms of Judge Johnson’s order, the march was limited to no more than 300 participants for the two days they were on the two-lane portion of Highway-80, so at the end of the first day most of the marchers returned to Selma by bus and car, leaving 300 to camp overnight and take up the journey the next day.
On March 22 and 23, 300 protesters marched through chilling rain across Lowndes county, camping at three sites in muddy fields. At the time of the march, the population of Lowndes County was 81% black and 19% white, but not a single black was registered to vote. At the same time there were 2,240 whites registered to vote in Lowndes County, a figure that represented 118% of the adult white population (in many southern counties of that era it was common practice to retain white voters on the rolls after they died or moved away).
On the morning of the 24th, the march crossed into Montgomery County and the highway widened again to four lanes. All day as the march approached the city, additional marchers were ferried by bus and car to join the line. By evening, several thousand marchers had reached the final campsite at the City of St. Jude, a complex on the outskirts of Montgomery.
That night on a makeshift stage, a “Stars for Freedom” rally was held, with singers Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Frankie Laine, Peter, Paul and Mary, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Nina Simone all performing.
On Thursday, March 25, 25,000 people marched from St. Jude to the steps of the State Capitol Building where King delivered the speech “How Long, Not Long.” “The end we seek,” King told the crowd, “is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. … I know you are asking today, How long will it take? I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long.“ After delivering the speech, King and the marchers approached the entrance to the capitol with a petition for Governor Wallace. A line of state troopers blocked the door. One of them announced that the governor wasn’t in. Undeterred, the marchers remained at the entrance until one of Wallace’s secretaries appeared and took the petition.
Later that night, Viola Liuzzo, a white mother of five from Detroit who had come to Alabama to support voting rights for blacks, was assassinated by Ku Klux Klan members while she was ferrying marchers back to Selma from Montgomery. Among the Klansmen in the car from which the shots were fired was FBI informant Gary Rowe. Afterward, the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation spread false rumors that Liuzzo was a member of the Communist Party and abandoned her children to have sexual relationships with African Americans involved in the civil rights movement.
Response to the Third March
The third march spread the marchers’ message without harassment by police and segregation supporters. These factors, along with more widespread support from other civil rights organizations in the area, made the march an overall success and gave the demonstration greater impact.
U.S. Representative William Louis Dickinson made two speeches to Congress on March 30 and April 27 seeking to slander the movement by making spurious charges of alcohol abuse, bribery, and widespread sexual debauchery at the marches. Religious leaders present at the marches denied the charges, and local and national journalists were unable to substantiate his accounts. The allegations of segregation supporters were collected in Robert M. Mikell’s pro-segregationist book Selma (Charlotte, 1965).
During 1965, Martin Luther King was promoting an economic boycott of Alabama products to put pressure on the State to integrate schools and employment. Despite King’s urging’s, Hammermill paper company announced the opening of a major plant in Selma Alabama during the height of violence in Selma. On February 4, 1965, the Company announced construction of a $35 million plant, allegedly touting the “fine reports the company had received about the character of the community and its people.” On March 26, 1965, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee called for a national boycott of Hammermill paper products, until the company reversed what SNCC described as racist policies. Ibid.
King’s organization, SCLC joined in support of the boycott. Ultimately, in cooperation with SCLC, student members of Oberlin College Action for Civil Rights, joined with King’s group SCLC to conduct picketing and a sit-in at Hammermill’s Erie Pennsylvania headquarters. The company responded by calling a meeting of the corporate leadership of Hammermill, SCLC’s C.T. Vivian, and Oberlin student leadership, and the meeting led to the signing of an agreement by Hammermill to support integration in Alabama. As the Company’s history explains:
Days after the project was announced in February 1965, Selma police jailed Martin Luther King, Jr. After protests erupted, Hammermill officials met with civil rights leaders and successfully assured them that the mill would honor its long-standing tradition of being an equal opportunity employer.
The marches shifted public opinion about the Civil Rights movement. The images of Alabama law enforcement beating the nonviolent protesters were shown all over the country and the world by television networks and newspapers. The visuals of such brutality being carried out by the state of Alabama helped shift the image of the segregationist movement from one of a movement trying to preserve the social order of the South to a system of state-endorsed terrorism against non-whites.
The marches also had a powerful effect in Washington. After witnessing TV coverage of “Bloody Sunday,” President Lyndon Baines Johnson met with Governor George Wallace in Washington to discuss with him the civil rights situation in his state. He tried to persuade Wallace to stop the state harassment of the protesters. Two nights later, on March 15, 1965, Johnson presented a bill to a joint session of Congress. The bill itself would later pass and become the Voting Rights Act. Johnson’s speech in front of Congress was considered to be a watershed moment for the civil rights movement.
Even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause, too, because it is not just Negroes but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.
Many in the Civil Rights movement cheered the speech and were emotionally moved that after so long, and so hard a struggle, a President was finally willing to defend voting rights for blacks. According to SCLC activist C.T. Vivian, who was with King when the speech was broadcast,
The bill became law at an August 6 ceremony attended by Amelia Boynton and many other civil rights leaders and activists. This act prohibited most of the unfair practices used to prevent blacks from registering to vote, and provided for federal registrars to go to Alabama and other states with a history of voting-related discrimination to ensure that the law was implemented.
In Selma, where more than 7,000 blacks were added to the voting rolls after passage of the Act, Sheriff Jim Clark was voted out of office in 1966 (he later served a prison sentence for drug smuggling).
In 1960, there were just 53,336 black voters in the state of Alabama; three decades later, there were 537,285, a tenfold increase.
In 1996, the 54 mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail was established, preserved by the National Park Service.
Vice President Joe Biden, center, leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. From left: Selma Mayor George Evans, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Biden, Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Photo: Dave Martin
Spelman’s Independent Scholars Visit Mrs. Ann Cooper by Anissa Douglass, C’2010
Uploaded on Oct 8, 2009
On Sunday, September 14, 2009, Young Scholars in Spelmans Independent Scholars (SIS) visited Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper, the Wisest of the Wise among Women of Wisdom in the SIS Oral History Project the woman then President-Elect Barack Obama lifted up in his acceptance speech on November 4, 2007. As a film artist, I had the privilege of filming this remarkable learning experience.
When Mrs. Cooper welcomed my sisters and me into her home, it was apparent that Mrs. Cooper is fortunate to have had and continue to have a great deal of love in her life. She talked about her Aunt Joyce, a very proper lady; about her husband, a successful dentist; and about her daughters, who graduated from Spelman. She told the story about Papa coming home as the wood burned in the fireplace. Although her family did not have much, Mrs. Cooper made it clear that they never had a sense of need or want because they had family and they had love.
What I did learn from meeting Mrs. Cooper? That life is long. That choices we make shape our live and impact the lives of others. That happiness and gratitude are choices. That we should choose both. At 107 years of age, Mrs. Cooper defies many of the ageist notions and attitudes that shape American culture.
Are you getting these pictures? she asked me. I answered, Yes! with pride. How wonderful that she welcomed the camera and, with her beauty, helped me produce this film, a brief excerpt of our special time with Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper, Woman of Wisdom in SIS. The longer film has been deposited in the SIS-in-LEADS archive.
SIS Oral History Project
Uploaded on Mar 7, 2008
What is SIS?
Spelman’s Independent Scholars (SIS) Program is a two-semester independent, interdisciplinary and intergenerational learning experience open to students across all majors. In SIS, we enhance our critical writing and critical thinking skills. In weekly seminars we share our research, sharpen our skills and grow in knowledge about oral history. In addition to learning sessions with the SIS faculty mentor, we are privileged to lectures by guest scholars including a gerontologist, two oral historians, a museum curator, an archivist and a physician-researcher in traditional knowledge. The first semester in SIS focuses on research and interviewing. The second semester focuses on transcribing and editing.
The concept paper included in our SIS Research Notebook gives a rationale for the learning experience:
Throughout our history in this nation — indeed before we were brought to these shores — older women in our families and in our communities are griots and sages, seers and prophets whom we are taught to honor and revere. Their stories teach us about values and beliefs that shaped their reality and, in immeasurable ways, impact our own. For reason, then, we see their memories, anchored deep in the soil of wisdom, as cherished treasure. It is this truth, as old as time itself, that undergirds the SIS Oral History Project.
As explained by Danielle Phillips, Spelman Independent Scholar
Obama’s victory speech on Ann Nixon Cooper
Uploaded on Nov 6, 2008
“This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
“She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
“And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
“At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
“When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.”
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.
And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
Yes we can.
America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.
Ann Nixon Cooper …. ‘The heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress’
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks Sunday, March 3, 2013, during the Martin and Coretta King Unity Brunch at Wallace Community College in Selma, Ala. The Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee commemorates the anniversary of the voting rights march of 1965. Photo: The Birmingham News, Julie Bennett
U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., talks with those gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Thousands crossed the bridge behind Lewis and other lawmakers on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Photo: Dave Martin
Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: Dave Martin
FILE – In this March 7, 1965, file photo march leader Hosea Williams, left, leaves the scene as state troopers break up the civil rights voter registration march in Selma, Ala., and put John Lewis, center, of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee on the ground. Hundreds gathered Sunday, March 3, 2013 for a brunch with Vice President Joe Biden, and thousands were expected Sunday afternoon to march across this bridge in Selma’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South. Photo: File
FILE – This March 21, 1965 file photo shows civil rights marchers crossing the Alabama river on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. to the State Capitol of Montgomery. Hundreds gathered Sunday, March 3, 2013 for a brunch with Vice President Joe Biden, and thousands were expected Sunday afternoon to march across this bridge in Selma’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South. Photo: File
Martin Luther King III addresses those who gathered for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. It is the 48th anniversary since Bloody Sunday. Photo: Dave Martin
Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: Dave Martin
Thousands of residents await the arrival of Vice President Joe Biden for the annual Bridge Crossing Ceremony in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Biden is traveling to Selma on Sunday to participate in the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the 1965 march, which prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act and add millions of African-Americans to Southern voter rolls. Photo: Dave Martin
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