Two minute warning
On March 7, 1965, 600 civil rights protesters attempted a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital, to draw attention to the voting rights issue.
Led by Hosea Williams (at right front in dark raincoat) and John Lewis (at right in light-colored coat), the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River on their way to Montgomery. There they encountered Alabama state troopers and local police officers who gave them a two-minute warning to stop and turn back. When the protesters refused, the officers tear-gassed and beat them. Over 50 people were hospitalized.
The events became known as “Bloody Sunday” and were televised worldwide.
A few weeks later a march from Selma to Montgomery was completed under federal protection.
Later than year, on August 6, 1965—partly due to the efforts of civil rights activists in Selma and around the nation—President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act. This act attempted to remove barriers faced by African Americans in exercising their constitutional right to vote.
Photo taken by Spider Martin. National Archives photo.