The 1965 Selma to Montgomery March was the climactic event of the Selma voting rights movement. On February 18 Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed by police during demonstrations in Marion. Infuriated by Jackson’s shooting, Hosea Williams and John Lewis led some 600 black protesters on Sunday, March 7 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. They were blocked by state troopers, Dallas County sheriff’s deputies, and mounted deputized men. Amidst billowing tear gas, the law enforcement personnel beat the marchers back across the bridge. As a result of this event, which became known as “Bloody Sunday,” Martin Luther King called for sympathetic Americans to join him in Selma to renew the march. On March 21, King led a diverse group of 8,000 demonstrators out of Selma under the protection of the National Guard and federal marshals along U.S. Highway 80. On the final day, March 25, King addressed a throng of 25,000 from the front of the state capitol. The national publicity that the march generated played a significant role in U.S. Congress adopting the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

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Encyclopedia of Alabama