Selma 1965 III
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2009
In 1965 the town of Selma, Alabama was the scene of protests and brutal repression. The results: A march to Montgomery and a new voting rights bill.
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Lead: In 1965 the town of Selma, Alabama was the scene of protests and brutal repression. The results: A march to Montgomery and a new voting rights bill.
Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: Martin Luther King, Jr. was convinced that the greatest ally the civil rights movement had lay in the consciences of white people. For too long the white majority had made gestures, had thrown rhetoric in support of liberty and justice, but had acquiesced in the face of bigotry and ideas of
white sovereignty. King knew that a frontal assault by blacks on the high wall of institutional prejudice would not succeed. Nonviolent tactics were designed to inflame those white consciences.
After several weeks of protests in the winter of 1965, intended to provoke a brutal white reaction, King had focused the nation's attention on Selma, Alabama and the town's suppression of Negro voting rights. On Bloody Sunday, March 7th, nearly a hundred protesters were run down by club-wielding state troopers and a mounted posse. Horrified by the continued intransigence of
the whites led by Governor George Wallace, President Johnson personally brought a voting rights bill to the floor of Congress, closing his message with the words of the protest song, "we shall overcome."
With the way cleared by federal injunctions and protected by nationalized troops from the Alabama National Guard, on March 21st more than 3,000 marchers began the trek eastward to Montgomery where King spoke in front of the state capital to the largest civil rights rally in southern history. Governor Wallace peered through the blinds of his office at the crowd below--25,000 strong. The result of the Selma demonstrations was that, under federal pressure, the states of the Deep South were forced to include thousands of African Americans in the rites of civil life; politics in the south were never again the same.
At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.