Black History Fact of the Week: Bloody Sunday
Civil rights protesters
On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights protesters took to Route 80 in Selma, Ala., on a historical, peaceful march for social freedom and justice. Just three weeks prior to the march, a state trooper shot and killed Jimmie Lee Jackson who was protecting his mother during a civil rights demonstration. This also fueled the march.
All began well that morning. But the marchers only made it as far as the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they were cut off and brutally attacked by a militaristic group of law enforcement officers. With billy clubs, tear gas and mounted police, the marchers were harassed and brutalized for their efforts. The day became known as “Bloody Sunday.” It was the first of three attempted marches from Selma to Montgomery.
By March 21, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led the march under the protection of the federal government to the state capitol. At the start, about 3,200 demonstrators had joined, making the journey 12 miles a day. By the time they reached their destination on March 25, the number of marchers had swelled to 25,000.
Just five months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
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In the 2008 presidential election, large numbers of voters that had not previously made strong showings at the polls came out to cast their ballots. African Americans, Latinos, women and students showed up in record numbers. But since 2011, a number of states have aggressively pursued and passed new voter-identification laws, also called voter-suppression laws, which have created new barriers that mainly target these groups and may keep a large number of voting-eligible citizens away from the polls.
Memorial service for “Big Willie” Robinson, the man who started the International Brotherhood of Street Racers, will be held Friday at the Faith Central Bible Church in Inglewood. Robinson died Saturday after a long struggle with vascular disease. He was 70.
The United States Court of Appeals recently upheld the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Section 5, known as the “preclearance provision,” requires that areas with a history of voting discrimination obtain federal permission from the U.S. Department of Justice or the Washington, D.C. District Court before changing any voting practices and procedures. Section 5 ensures that states’ changes in voting procedures in these areas are free from discrimination.
By George Dean and Ortensia Lopez
The Greenlining Institute
This week’s 47th commemoration of the Bloody Sunday March of 1965 marks a new phase in the Civil Rights Movement. It represents a turning point for people from all backgrounds, who are joining together, not only to remember our shared past, but also to fight for a shared future. It’s a moment of recognition from all sides that, though our nation has progressed since 1965, we are not yet finished with the struggle to include everyone in the fullness that American life has to offer.