The march from Selma to Montgomery that took place 51 years ago was actually a total of three separate marches which began on March 7, 1965 and arriving at the state capitol doorstep in Montgomery, Alabama on March 25, 1965 to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Barbara Harris Combs, the author of From Selma to Montgomery: The Long March To Freedom explains that Selma, Alabama is known for its important role in the Civil Rights Movement, but in the second paragraph of her Introduction, Barbara let’s us know that the history is much longer and more complicated than that one event.
Selma, Alabama, is also the site of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s last major battle. Forrest, the Confederate general that Union General William T. Sherman termed a “devil” and once said “[should be] hunted down and killed if it cost 10,000 lives and bankrupts the [national] treasure,” would go on to become the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Montgomery, Alabama, also has an entangled history. Incorporated in 1819, Montgomery,Alabama, is the capital city of the state and served as the first capital of the Confederate States of America. Conversely, Montgomery is also the location of the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, a seminal event the modern civil rights struggle. Today, Montgomery’s city seal is a six-pointed star, which contains the words, “Cradle of the Confederacy.” “Birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement,” and “City of Montgomery.”
The Voting Rights History Struggle In Selma
Selma has long deep roots, stemming from the Dallas County Voters League (DCLV), which was formed shortly after WWII. Soon the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came and lent support, building its campaign around the base established by the people of the area.
In 1963, DCVL wrote a letter inviting Martin Luther King Jr. to come to Alabama and assist SNCC and the community. While Martin is often featured as the center of the Selma campaign, he is not. By the time Martin arrived, things were already heating up, but the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson caused a fervor that could not be contained.