Thursday, October 22, 2015

Selma, Alabama: Edmund Pettus Bridge

I think I could argue that one of the biggest moments in the civil rights movement, if not THE biggest moment, took place on this bridge.

It was March 7, 1965, and many people planned to march from Selma to Montgomery to protest their lack of voting rights. The problem was that such a march could be considered a threat to the status quo, and the powers that be didn't want it to happen.

One of those powers was Sheriff Jim Clark, who was known for his racist views and violent approach to law enforcement. That's why Selma was picked for the start of the march - the response figured to be memorable.

Sure enough, March 7 became remembered as "Bloody Sunday." The marchers were ordered to disperse, and then were attacked and beaten by police. Such episodes may have happened in previous times. The difference here was that this time television cameras were watching, and the scenes were broadcast to a shocked and horrified nation. It sure didn't look like the land of the free.

Within a week, President Johnson asked Congress to pass a voting rights bill. The march was allowed to take place. Soon the 15th Amendment to the Constitution had meaning to all Americans when restrictions on voting rights were outlawed.

Here's what "Bloody Sunday" looked like:

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