Forty-nine years ago today, activists’ third and final attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery succeeded. It all started after the Civil Rights movement of 1864 was passed by President Johnson. African Americans were granted new rights, however the Jim Crow laws still remained intact, continuing to prevent a large portion of the black population from voting.
Despite this, John Lewis led fifty African Americans to the courthouse in Selma, Alabama, on registration day in the name of the equality and freedom. As a result, they were arrested and local judge James Hare implemented an injunction forbidding gatherings of three or more people organizing under the banner of civil rights. Even if three or more people were just talking about civil rights, this was considered a violation.
Martin Luther King Jr. was then contacted and brought in to form the Selma Voting Rights Movement in January 1965, which began protests in support of voting rights in various cities outside of Selma. As the organization grew, they began to attempt marches to appeal to higher authority in Montgomery, Alabama. After two previous attempts, the participants arrived at the state capitol forty-nine years ago today—a major win in the battle for civil rights.
Be sure to check out In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma by Bernard LaFayette Jr. and Kathryn Lee Johnson. Lafayette was one of the primary organizers of the Selma Voting Rights movement and participated in these historic marches. This electrifying memoir depicts the inspiring story of his time in Selma and presents an intriguing perspective on the civil rights movement from one of its greatest leaders.