On This Day: 59 Years Since Bloody Sunday

March 7, 2024

Hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder, they marched for the freedoms that were theirs by birth and theirs by right: the freedom to vote, the freedom to live without fear of violence or intimidation, the freedom to be full and equal members of our nation.

United States Vice President Kamala Harris speaking to thousands of people gathered to commemorate 59 years since Bloody Sunday, a pivotal turning point in America’s civil rights movement.

Big Picture: On March 7, 1965, about 600 nonviolent activists planned to march 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in protest for African-American voting rights. The marchers – led by Congressman John Lewis and Hosea Williams, a fellow activist – made it only six blocks, crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where law enforcement ordered the march to stop and disperse, then violently advancing on the protest.

In the days that followed, 80 cities around the nation held demonstrations in support of the protestors. Months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law, which many see as a direct legislative action in response to “Bloody Sunday.” The legislation “outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting” (National Archives).

Read More: On This Day: Bloody Sunday (SmartHER News)

Kamala Harris leads Bloody Sunday memorial as marchers’ voices ring out for voting rights (The Associated Press)

by Emily Hooker, based in Texas