The 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama became a turning point in the struggle for racial equality, galvanizing support for the civil rights movement and leading to significant changes in the legal and social landscape of the United States. Consequently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was signed into law after the Selma-to-Montgomery Marches. The act aimed to address the systemic discrimination and barriers faced by Black voters in the South, including literacy tests, poll taxes, and other voter suppression tactics. While the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had granted African Americans the right to vote in 1870, many states, particularly in the South, had put in place these laws and practices that effectively prevented them from exercising that right.
Organized by civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis, the marches nonviolent protested was met with violent opposition from state and local authorities, who used tear gas, clubs, and other forms of physical force to stop the protesters.
The brutal events of “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, when Alabama state troopers attacked peaceful demonstrators with clubs and tear gas as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The violence was captured on camera and broadcast on television, shocking the nation and prompting widespread outrage.
In the aftermath of the march, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965. The act prohibited racial discrimination in voting, including tactics that had been used to prevent African Americans from registering to vote. The march was a turning point in the struggle for racial equality, galvanizing support for the civil rights movement and leading to significant changes in the legal and social landscape of the United States.