The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s
Courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.
In 1965 the leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began a massive voter registration mobilization in Selma, Alabama. On 7 March six hundred marchers set out from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery to demand their voting rights. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge outside of Selma, the marchers were attacked by highway patrolmen and state troopers. Images of the attack were broadcast across the country. The following week Martin Luther King led a group of 1500 protesters, but they turned back when again faced by armed police. Later that day a white minister, James Reeb, was attacked and killed in Selma. The death of Reeb led President Lyndon B. Johnson to federalize the Alabama National Guard and bring in regular Army troops to protect the marchers. On 21 March four thousand people set out from Selma to march to Montgomery. When the group arrived at the capitol there were 22,000 marchers. Five months later, on 6 August, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. In this image, marchers are arrested by the Montgomery police.