By Rachel Kenderdine, CFYJ Operations and Development Manager
This is the second of a two part series.
During CFYJ’s recent trip to Alabama, we made the drive to Selma, where on March 7, 1965, voting rights activists, peacefully attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery, were stopped and beaten by police just across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The horrific incident became known as “Bloody Sunday.” The activists were forced to turn back and flee for their lives, but national outrage sparked by the injustice of Bloody Sunday allowed civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and now-Representative John Lewis (D-GA), to complete the march two weeks later with federal protections granted by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery March--and the leadership of activists like Dr. King and John Lewis--also gave President Johnson the push he needed work with Congress to pass and sign federal legislation to protect the voting rights of African Americans. Though guaranteed by the 15th Amendment, African Americans across the South were prevented from registering to vote by local laws enforcing literacy tests or other means to keep blacks from accessing their voting rights.