The Selma March Research Paper

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:History

Document 1

While many Americans in the Northern states enjoyed the freedom to vote without discrimination based on color and other factors, the Southern states struggled to obtain their freedom. The struggle created innovation in the society, creating awareness about the possibility of transforming the community through peaceful protests. The celebrated triumphs of movements agitating for the protection of civil rights often fail to acknowledge the small battles which led to the enormous victories (Combs). This paper seeks to sequentially explore the events revolving around the Selma march to share the lessons of courage and persistence in the struggle for social justice for African Americans concerning voting. Body The Selma march is a political drive that started from Selma in Alabama to the capital of the state located in Montgomery.

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The county’s sheriff, Jim Clark resisted the drive with a lot of violence. The Dallas County Voters League sought the help of the SCLC under the leadership of King Jr. to prevent violence against protestors. The mayor, Mr. Smitherman, tried to stop bad publicity for the county by giving a directive to the county sheriff to bring police violence to a halt. King spoke at the young man’s funeral, citing that although there were many casualties in the campaign against social injustice, the physical death is just a price that must be paid to guarantee the freedom of the next generation and the white brothers from eternal death where there can be no redemption. The trooper who killed Jackson was accused of murder in 2007, after 42 years.

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The man pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a reduced jail sentence of six months (Zoppo). In response to the incident, leaders in Selma called for a peaceful march to Montgomery to parade their disgust at the injustices tolerated within their society. On the 6th of March, Governor Wallace placed an order forbidding the movement and called for the execution of whatever measures necessary to curb the rally. Moreover, the whole scene was filled with tear gas, and many were hospitalized because of the beating received. The television cameras captured police brutality and presented it to the homes of many Americans who saw the inequality perpetrated through the state. Eventually, there were about 80 demonstrations in different cities to show support for the marchers.

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An editorial termed the violence perpetrated as a severe blemish of the American society, marveling at the courage and fortitude of King and his colleagues. On the 4th of March, Governor Wallace organized a meeting with Alabama director in charge of public safety. Fortunately, thousands complied, and plans went forward to get a court order to stop the state from interfering again with the peaceful march. The judge Frank Johnson agreed to hear the case but gave a restraint order to ensure that the protests stop until the petition is decided. On Tuesday, 9th March, King led about 2000 protestors towards the bridge although reluctant to go against the restraint order. King led the people through prayer and complied with the command given by the state troops to stop the march (Swanson).

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Unfortunately, some white clergymen were assaulted and on Tuesday night as they were traveling back after joining the Selma march, leading to the death of James Reeb. Some days before the start of the renewed march, the governor implied in a phone call to President Johnson that the marchers would receive the protection of the Alabama Guard. Afterward, the governor addressed the legislature, announcing his expectation that the federal leadership would offer safety and guarantee the welfare of the demonstrators. Finally, Wallace made known to the President that the protection of the demonstrators was too expensive for Alabama to provide, instead requesting that the federal government intervene. On the 20th of March, President Johnson replied in a rage, federalizing Alabama National Guard command elements and dispatching the Army.

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On the 21st of March, King led a group of marchers estimated to be between 3000 and 8000 from Selma, through Pettus Bridge and to Montgomery. Moreover, the law removed the literacy tests put to deter African Americans from voting. (LaFayette, and Johnson). The struggle of a small group of people led to an influence that not only spread through Alabama but to the entire region and nation, teaching the society to value each other without consideration of race. About a year later, the number of black voters registered was about nine thousand. Dr. Combs, Barbara.  From Selma To Montgomery. Routledge, 2014. LaFayette, Bernard, and Kathryn Lee Johnson.  In Peace And Freedom. Raatma, Lucia.  Selma's Bloody Sunday. Compass Point Books, 2009. Stoddard, Katy. "Selma To Montgomery: Martin Luther King And The March For Freedom".

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