A bridge too far…
50 years ago today an attempt to cross a bridge in Alabama in a peaceful civil rights march ended in “Bloody Sunday”
In the beginning of 1965, civil rights activists organized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery to show the desire of black American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.
The march gained the nickname “Bloody Sunday” after its 600 marchers were attacked at the Edmund Pettus Bridge after leaving Selma; state troopers and county posse attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas.
The second march took place on March 9, when the State Troopers let the marchers cross the bridge. But that night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston.
The third march started March 21. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”.
The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.
The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, and is a U.S. National Historic Trail.