Mar 8, 2015

Selma to Montgomery: 50 Years Later

On August 6, 1965 — just a few months after the march —
Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, to prohibit
racial discrimination in voting. The Act itself
has been called the most effective piece
of civil rights legislation ever passed by Congress.
Photo: White House
Speaking in Alabama, a state littered with murders, mutilations and bloody assaults against civil rights workers, President Obama sounded an optimistic note on the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge to mark the anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches.

Marchers were met with signs applauding the murders of 

"They were sleeping on the outside, the kitchen, front porch, downstairs, everywhere, because the white hotels would not take them."— Roderick West, whose family took in white marchers when many others were too afraid (Fezehai, New York Times)

From the White House:

"Learn about the history of the marches. Listen to the stories of those who marched. And tell us how you'll honor their legacy and #MarchOn."

Black lives matter, but not enough to keep Madison,
Wisconsin police from shooting them to death.
Latest fatality: Tony Robinson, 19-years-old
From Ferguson to Madison (Facebook)
Fifty years ago, on March 7, 1965, hundreds of people gathered in Selma, Alabama to march to the capital city of Montgomery. They marched to ensure that African Americans could exercise their constitutional right to vote — even in the face of a segregationist system that wanted to make it impossible.

On the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, state troopers and county members violently attacked the marchers, leaving many of them injured and bloodied — and some of them unconscious.

But the marchers didn't stop. Two days later, Dr. Martin Luther King led roughly 2,500 people back to the Pettus Bridge before turning the marchers around — obeying a court order that prevented them from making the full march.

The third march started on March 21, with protection from 1,000 military policemen and 2,000 Army troops. Thousands of people joined along the way to Montgomery, with roughly 25,000 people entering the capital on the final leg of the march. On March 25, the marchers made it to the entrance of the Alabama State Capitol building, with a petition for Gov. George Wallace.

Only a few months later, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965. The Voting Rights Act was designed to eliminate legal barriers at the state and local level that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment — after nearly a century of unconstitutional discrimination.

[The Voting Rights Act was eviscerated by a Republican-led U.S. Supreme Court decision, Shelby County (Alabama) v. Holder in an infamous 5-4 decision on June 25, 2013. Republican Party efforts to disenfranchise black voters continue today at an accelerated pace.]

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