Selma to Montgomery Marches By: Jaley Coplin

Background Information

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made discrimination in voting illegal, however, the discrimination continued. When organizations like the Southern Christian Leadership Council tried to help African Americans to vote they faced resistance. Martin Luther King Jr. helped them to start a voter registration campaign in Selma, Alabama. They tried multiple marches and failed when Alabama officers stopped them and created brutal scenes that raised awareness of the situation in Selma (Selma to Montgomery March).

Goal of Event

The goal of the march was to end the resistance against African American voting rights and help more African Americans get registered to vote.

Who was Involved

About 2,000 people marched from Selma to Montgomery and it took them 4 days while sleeping in fields along the way. Martin Luther King Jr. helped lead the march and President Lyndon Johnson backed them up. He even ordered U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that were under federal control to walk along with them and protect them from harm. Then 50,000 people met them in Montgomery in front of the state capital to hear speeches, for example Ralph Bunche (Selma to Montgomery March).

Obstacles

The Alabama governor, George Wallace, and the county sheriff both opposed desegregation. They resisted it to the point that only two percent of eligible black voters were able to register. Many people started violence because they were angry about desegregation. For example, a state trooper shot an African American named Jimmie Lee Jackson. This caused Martin Luther King Jr. to start to organize a march. The first march didn't get far before state troopers arrived and brutally forced them back. The second march was again blocked by troopers, but they turned around to avoid violence. The third march attempt succeeded with the help of a US district court judge and President Johnson.

Impact

President Lyndon Johnson helped by talking to congress and this march helped him to get the Voting Rights Act to pass. It guarded African Americans from the obstacles in their way when they were trying to vote. Specifically, it banned the requirement of literacy tests, voter registration tests and poll taxes (Selma to Montgomery March).

Sioux Pipeline Protests

The Dakota Access Pipeline was planned to run across Lake Oahe, but the Sioux community was worried that since it would go through the reservoir on the Missouri river it could ruin their drinking water. This is similar to the Selma to Montgomery marches because the protests were both violent. The protesters against the pipeline were arrested for lighting hay bales and construction equipment on fire. They both received help from important government officials; the Sioux community obtained help from a US district judge to give them a section of land that can't be constructed on. The Standing Rock Sioux opposed the US Army Corps of Engineers and the African Americans had to oppose the Alabama state troopers. This shows the similarities between the two marches (Protesters Celebrate).

Sources

History.com Staff. (2010). Selma to Montgomery March. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/selma-montgomery-march?scrlybrkr=81b024b8

Register, K. H. (2016, December 05). Protesters celebrate as Army halts Dakota Access pipeline work. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/04/standing-rock-tribe-says-army-halt-dakota-access-pipeline/94966882/

Selma to Montgomery marches. (2017, April 29). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selma_to_Montgomery_marches?scrlybrkr=23d5ed87#Background

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