During the 1950's and 1960's, less than 7% of the total African American population within Selma, Alabama were actually registered to vote. Even though the 15th amendment was passed in 1870, the amendment that banned discrimination for a man to vote regardless of skin color or race, there were still much discrimination held against those of African American ancestry that many Americans turned a blind eye at. Some of these methods included making the voters pay to have a ballot, recite the entire constitution, or even take a literacy test that was much too difficult for even the white race to pass if given to them. Fortunately though, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) lead by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself helped bring light to this dark situation. In early 1965 Selma, Alabama, the SCLC along with Dr. King organized a march that would last from Selma all the way to Montgomery. They hoped this peaceful protest was one of the many steps needed to be taken to finally earn true equality.
Eyes On the Prize
This march on Selma had the simple goal to finally have all African-Americans have the right to vote without having to face discrimination from whites or any other race that went against them when it came to the voting booth. The 15th amendment had already granted the vote for all men with any skin color, however it didn't outlaw the discriminatory methods used against those men; that is specifically what this march was fighting against. In short this march tried to push for the Voting Rights Act that wouldn’t be passed until the next year as well as diminish or completely eliminate the discrimination against african american voters in Selma, Alabama.
Several religious groups had participated in this protest; specifically because they agreed whole-heartedly with the non-violent form of protesting as a way to get things done. Two organizations; the SCLC mentioned earlier and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) were already in the process of organizing this march for a year or two. With the help of Martin Luther King, Jr. , that dream of theirs had finally become a reality. Along with that, smaller religious groups and members of both the black and white community linked arms with one another and worked on this march to help spread equality. Granted at the moment it was just for Selma, but the message created by this movement would be used as the poster child for equality across the nation.
The Uphill Battle
If it wasn't for the hardship all the marchers had faced while walking Selma, this march most likely wouldn't have held as much strength or impact as it does right now. It is quite easy to see that not everybody in the country, including the South, were on board with the giving of rights to people who didn't share the same mindset for African-Americans as they did. Many of the people faced police brutality as well as strong opposition from the state governor who was one of the sole reasons for barely any African-American voters. Along with that, a local Dallas County sheriff also lead a steadfast to oppose the voting registration. Despite all of this, no matter what happened to those marching, they made sure to make it to Selma despite all of the violence and hardship they had faced along the way. The violence faced during the march was broadcasted on national television with full coverage- and the blind eye many have had suddenly could start to see how serious the problem at hand was. Known also as "Bloody Sunday" the March on Selma had really become one of the big shifts in the nation.