Look, I know we all (should) at least know about the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. The fact remains, however, that it was the best representative black history item relevant to my interests with the date of March 7th.
Born of the Voting Rights Movement, and with the support of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and his organization, who would bring prominent support to the effort.
The planning of the event took place in the face of injunctions against “civil rights activity,” with meetings that could be considered as ‘rogue’ when considering the (unfair) laws that they defied.
… but they pushed on…
Voter registration drives and protests commenced over the months leading up to the marches in several counties surrounding Selma as well. At one of these – non-violent, mind you – demonstrations, state troopers attacked the crowd gathered, and one man was shot trying to protect his mother as they fled. He would die a week later
And now it was time to march from Selma to Montgomery.
The initial plan was to go to Montgomery and ask questions of the Governor George Wallace and his hand in the brutality of his troopers in the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. This, despite the way people in and around Selma had been handled at the hands of the troopers on several occasions, was with focusing the frustration and anger into a nonviolent outcome.
And, of course, garner national attention.
Following the precedent set in yesterday’s post; we are to understand that passive-aggressiveness is the natural answer to any time that common sense assaults our opinions, so George Wallace said the march was a threat to public safety and vowed to stop it in whatever means possible.
And now it is March 7th.
Somewhere between 5-600 people gathered to march east from Selma, led my John Lewis and Hosea Williams, with a few others taking the point. All went well until reaching the other side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where the marchers were met by state troopers, demanding to break it up and leave. When Williams attempted to speak, he was flatly told that therewas “nothing to talk about” and the asswhoopings commenced. Shoves, billyclubs, tear gas and charging on horses – the whole 9 in 1965 terms…
Cameras were in the building and footage was cast on the news and printed in newspapers. 17 were hospitalized and this event was called “Bloody Sunday.”
The historical impact of this was the very obvious shift in the Civil Rights movement, in that it showed full well that protesters had (mostly) and would (mostly) be nonviolent; even when faced with what was FAR from reciprocity in this. The images of police beating on defenseless and peaceful people were another thing that swayed public opinion on not only the voting thing, but Civil Rights in general. This includes Lyndon B Johnson meeting with Wallace to tell him to call off his dogs harassing the protesters and 2 nights later presenting the bill that would become the Voting Rights act.
In the decades that followed, we would see a 1000% increase in black registered voters in Alabama, so suffice it to say that the marches were a success and the struggle was necessary.
“WINNING,” as my new hero Charlie Sheen might have put it.
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