Selma to Montgomery Notes

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Selma to Montgomery, 1965 * In June 1963, Medgar Evers, the NAACP Mississippi field secretary, was shot and killed in front of his home. * In 1964, SNCC workers organized the Mississippi Summer Project to register African Americans to vote in the state, wanting to focus national attention on the state’s racism.

* SNCC recruited Northern college students, teachers, artists, and clergy to work on the project. They believed the participation of these people would make the country concerned about discrimination and violence in Mississippi. * The project did receive national attention, especially after three participants—two of whom were white—disappeared in June and were later found murdered and buried near Philadelphia, Mississippi.

* By 1965, the Civil Rights Movement under the dynamic leadership of Martin Luther King, was aiming to gain political power through voting rights. * Black people in the South were prevented from voting. * Dr King decided to focus on the town of Selma, Alabama, where a racist sheriff was blocking a campaign for voter registration - you have to be registered to vote so that you can be given the voting slip (piece of paper) that you would use to give your vote. * In 1964 only 1% of the black population of Selma were registered to vote

* On 7 March 1965 civil rights demonstrators attempted to march across a bridge, Edmund Pettus Bridge, near Selma. They planned to walk to Montgomery, the state capitol, to take their protest to the racist Governor of Alabama, George Wallace.

* Mr Wallace ordered state troopers, some mounted on horseback, to prevent the march crossing the bridge. * As the marchers knelt to pray, the police sprayed tear gas after warning them to disperse. * The police charged into the crowd of demonstrators, clubbing men, women and children indiscriminately and spraying teargas.

* Dr King called for a second march to take place at Selma two weeks later. 3000 people gathered but

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