Edmund Winston Pettus Bridge
The Edmund Pettus bridge became a symbol of the momentous changes taking place in Alabama, America, and the world. It was here that voting rights marchers were violently confronted by law enforcement personnel on March 7, 1965. The day became known as Bloody Sunday.
The march resumed on Sunday March 21, with court protection through Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., who weighed the right of mobility against the right to march and ruled in favor of the demonstrators. "The law is clear that the right to petition one's government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups...," said Judge Johnson, "and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways."
This time, 3,200, versus the initial 600, marches headed east out of Selma, across the EdmundPettusBridge and on to Montgomery. Marches walked 12 miles a day and slept in fields. By the time they reached the capitol on Thursday, March 25, they were 25,000-strong. Less than five months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 -- the best possible redress of grievances.
Did You Know?
On March 17, 1965, after five days of testimony, Judge Johnson granted an order authorizing the march from Selma to Montgomery. On March 21, Martin Luther King led a diverse group of 8,000 demonstrators out of Selma under the protection of 2,000 National Guard troops and federal marshals.