African American Voter Registration, Education, & Participation Project
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Increasing African American and urban voter registration, education, and participation through outreach to targeted communities in California. We've registered over 175,000 voters and counting since 2002!

50 Years ago…

On March 21, 1965, 50 years ago today, the third and final Selma-to-Montgomery March began. More about this day in history.

In early 1965, the SCLC, SNCC and other black civil rights organizations launched a voter registration campaign in Selma, Ala. On Feb. 18, during a protest march in nearby Marion, police shot and killed 26-year-old Jimmie Lee Jackson as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather from police beatings. In response, John Lewis of SNCC and Hosea Williams of SCLC organized a march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery, 54 miles away.

March 7th, 1965 was the first Selma march, but the background leading up to the march was generations in the making due to historical patterns of segregation and racial injustice in the South.

The first marchers were attacked directly by police on “Bloody Sunday” as it became known — and this was filmed and broadcast widely, shocking the world. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights figures then arrived in Selma and organized the second symbolic march, on March 9th.

After an injunction was granted by the District Judge forbidding government interference with the marchers, 3,200 people participated in the 3rd march (on Sunday March 21, 50 years ago today). This march lasted five days, stretching 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery. The crowd had welled to 25,000 people by the time it reached Montgomery, the capitol of Alabama.

The route of this march is memorialized as the “Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail”. The events in Selma helped lead to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act later that year.

But this isn’t just a moment in time. Selma shows that when the people rise up in peaceful protest, we can demand (and receive) change from lawmakers. We thank all the protestors who fought for a better tomorrow, but that work is not yet done.