Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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March 7th
Bloody Sunday
By 1965 a century had passed since the end of the Civil War, but in some parts of the South, blacks still lacked the right to vote. Literacy tests, registration requirements, and other barriers hindered them on Election Day. Hoping to draw attention to the problem, civil rights workers planned to march more than fifty miles from Selma, Alabama, a town where blacks had suffered much violence and discrimination, to Montgomery, the state capital.

On Sunday, March 7, 1965, about 600 protesters began their march. They had barely started when they met a line of state troopers and policemen, some on horseback, who ordered the crowd to turn back. When the marchers held their ground, the police attacked with tear gas, bullwhips, and billy clubs, driving the activists back into Selma.

The nation was shocked by televised images of “Bloody Sunday,” as the brutal assault came to be known. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. immediately called on civil rights activists to converge on Selma for another march.

On March 21, after even more bloodshed, some 3,200 marchers left Selma again, this time under the protection of the National Guard. With King leading the way, they walked along Highway 80 through rain and chilly weather, camping out at night and singing hymns of freedom. By the time they reached the capital on March 24, thousands more had joined them. “In a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, but our souls are rested,” King told a swelling crowd the next day. “I stand before you this afternoon with the conviction that segregation is on its deathbed in Alabama.”

He was right. The Selma-to-Montgomery march opened many eyes to the need for change. Later that year, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, which helped ensure voting rights for all citizens.

American History Parade
1876
Alexander Graham Bell receives a patent for the telephone.

1897
In Battle Creek, Michigan, Dr. John Kellogg serves the world’s first cornflakes to patients in hopes that a better diet will help cure some of their ailments.

1926
The first successful transatlantic radio-telephone conversation takes place, between New York City and London.

1933
Businessman Charles Darrow of Atlantic City, New Jersey, trademarks the board game Monopoly.

1945
U.S. troops cross the Rhine River at Remagen, establishing the first Allied bridgehead in Germany during World War II.

1965
Police attack peaceful civil rights demonstrators trying to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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