Selma: the March that changed History

The Edmund Pettus Bridge of Selma became a symbol of the fight for black civil rights. (Civil Rights Trail)

The Selma Montgomery protest, led by Martin Luther King, marked a turning point in the fight for civil rights

TMartin Luther King led the black civil rights movement in the US. His tireless struggle won thousands of people over who joined the cause and made great achievements, like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allowed blacks to vote

The so-called “Selma marches” were very important to get these rights. The story of these peaceful protests is explained in the movie Selma (2014), directed by Ava DuVernay. It was the first film directed by an Afro-American woman to be nominated for the Oscars.

Selma is a city in Alabama, a southern state that stood out for the its racism among the whites.

Numerous demonstrations were organized there to claim the right for black to vote. Although the 1964 law already allowed them to vote, the authorities (formed by whites) were still making it impossible for them to do so.

The suffrage organizations (in favour of the right to vote) invited Reverend Martin Luther King to join their cause. King, who had received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, was a well-known and respected public figure at that time.

El domingo sangriento

The movie explains what happened after Martin Luther King’s arrival in Selma in January 1965. It all started with the death of black citizen Jimmy Lee Jackson, shot by a white police officer.

After this event, on Sunday, March 7, a march was organized from Selma to Montgomery, the capital of Alabama state. But the authorities blocked the march on the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, now a symbol of the fight for civil rights.

On the bridge, the police charged against protestors causing 17 injured. This is why Selma’s first march is known as Bloody Sunday.

In response to Bloody Sunday, Martin Luther King called for a second march encouraging people from all over the country to come, whites and blacks, to participate. Thousands of people attended, but they did not go over the bridge either.

Finally, in the third march that was being organized, protestors got to Montgomery with Martin Luther King at the head. Soon after, President Lyndon B. Johnson gave the go-ahead to the Voting Rights Act.

The Selma marches featured other important historical figures, like for example the activist Amelia Boynton Robinson or Malcolm X, another great leader of the Afro-American community.

Translated by Chaplin’s Languages | Find out more in Junior Report

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