Today is National Voter Registration Day! However, seven years later, blacks had not been able to elect a candidate of their choice to the city council. Selma was protected by fortifications that circled much of the city; it was protected on the north and south by the Alabama River. The Confederates replied with heavy small arms and artillery fire. Even boosters like state house speaker Mike Hubbard concede Alabama ranks in the bottom half of the states in student performance by every measure including 44th in overall K-12 student achievement. The city government of Selma consists of a mayor and a nine-member city council, elected from single-member districts. 22 terms. Middle schools include R.B. Thousands joined the march along the way. Selma has four private K–12 schools: John T. Morgan Academy, founded in 1965, Meadowview Christian School, Ellwood Christian Academy, and Cathedral Christian Academy. Although director DuVernay stated that she intended the movie as art and not as history, I found no blatant inaccuracies, just some omissions. The 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) library is in downtown Selma.[27]. The Jim Crow laws and customs were enforced with violence. Wilson's forces captured a Confederate courier, who was found to be carrying dispatches from Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest describing his scattered forces. Selma, Dallas County and other jurisdictions carried out the segregation laws passed by the state. [24] It was torn down in 2012, reflecting the continuing controversy about him. In March 1965, the Selma to Montgomery march became a watershed moment for the civil rights movement of the 1960s. After they passed over the crest of the Edmund Pettus Bridge and left the boundaries of the city, they were confronted by county sheriff's deputies and state troopers, who attacked them using tear gas, horses and billy clubs, and drove them back across the bridge. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. Meanwhile, General Upton, observing Long's success, ordered his division forward. The police intended to save Webb from a local lynch mob, but the mob abducted Webb from the jail and killed him. This is not a movie review, although I do discuss the movie Selma. In the documentary we learn how during the "Bloody Sunday" police attack on marchers on Edmund Pettus Bridge, Hosea Williams, one of the march's leaders, carried an eight-year old girl to safety. The two high schools, Southside and Selma City have student populations that are virtually 100% African American. DirecTV and Dish Network provide direct broadcast satellite television including both local and national channels to area residents. Selma boasts the state's largest contiguous historic district, with more than 1,250 structures identified as contributing. King and other civil-rights leaders filed for court protection for a third, larger-scale march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. Wilson sent a brigade to destroy the bridge across the Cahaba River at Centreville, which cut off most of Forrest's reinforcements from reaching the area. But, Long decided to begin his assault against the Selma fortifications to neutralize the enemy attack in his rear. Chestnut (Selma's first black attorney), SCLC Citizenship School teacher Marie Foster, public school teacher Marie Moore, Frederick D. Reese and others active with the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). A year ago, Barack Obama addressed a group in Selma, AL commemorating the 1965 voting rights march. Before discovery and settlement, the area of present-day Selma had been inhabited for thousands of years by various warring tribes of Native Americans. After the change, five African-American Democrats were elected to the city council, including activist Frederick Douglas Reese, who became a major power in the city; five whites were also elected to the council.[17]. Their cause must be our cause too. The SCLC leaders left having organized the citizens of Selma and further efforts to petition the governor died down. Selma maintained segregated schools and other facilities, enforcing the state law in new enterprises such as movie theaters. In 1935, Joe Spinner Johnson, a leader of the Alabama Sharecroppers Union, which worked from 1931 to 1936 to get better pay and treatment from white planters, was beaten by a mob near his field, taken to the jail in Selma and beaten more; his body was left in a field near Greensboro.[8]. Selma was a trading center and market town during the antebellum years of King Cotton in the South. 5 years ago. On the afternoon of April 1, opening what would be the final full month of the war, and after skirmishing all morning, Wilson's advanced guard ran into Forrest's line of battle at Ebenezer Church, where the Randolph Road intersected the main Selma road. 0 0. This march represented one of the political and emotional peaks of the modern civil-rights movement. He began a running fight with Forrest's forces that did not end until after the fall of Selma. The last one, on 25 March 1965, brought together about 25,000 people who marched from Selma to Montgomery, up to the state capitol. The current mayor is Darrio Melton. The First March From Selma March 7, 1965 When about 600 people started a planned march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, on Sunday March 7, 1965, it was called a demonstration. 29 … As the Selma fortifications were built to be defended by 20,000 men, Forrest's soldiers had to stand 10 to 12 feet (3.7 m) apart to try to cover the works. Dallas County, Alabama, where Selma is located, is the poorest county in a very poor state. [citation needed]. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.0 males. Obama credits Selma march for his existence. Frank Minis Johnson, Jr., the federal district court judge for the area who reviewed the injunction, decided in favor of the demonstrators, saying: The law is clear that the right to petition one's government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups ... and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways. On Sunday, March 21, 1965, approximately 3,200 marchers departed for Montgomery. he would probably be just fine. King recognized the divisions within the movement as well as continuing desperation in the African American community in a 1967 speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, "Where Do We Go from Here?". Social studies educator, Hofstra University, my opinions, of course, are my own, Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. Much has changed since 1965. To the west, many Confederate soldiers fought the pursuing Union Army all the way down to the eastern side of Valley Creek. Some historians and political participants argue that the movie unfairly portrays President Johnson as a too pragmatic of a politician who used racial slurs and was willing to postpone legislation ensuring voting rights for African Americans. Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, in the Black Belt region of south central Alabama and extending to the west. Once the Union Army reached the works, there was vicious hand-to-hand fighting. The result was him--Barack Obama, Child of Destiny. Even where the door has been forced partially open, mobility for the Negro is still sharply restricted. The Union troops looted the city that night and burned many businesses and private residences. Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination illegal based on race, the Selma to Montgomery march was organized to help register black voters in the South and to protest against racially motivated violence. Selma was incorporated in 1820. It was established as a Carnegie library in 1904, receiving matching funds for construction. He had been invited by local leaders to help their movement.[14]. The Federals suffered many casualties (including General Long) but continued their attack. About 26.9% of families and 31.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 41.8% of those under age 18 and 28.0% of those age 65 or over. Violent crimes are more than double the national rate and crimes against property are 40% higher. In 1967, Martin Luther King told the SCLC convention, "With all the struggle and all the achievements, we must face the fact, however, that the Negro still lives in the basement of the Great Society. An Auburn man caught on camera while storming the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 is now facing charges from the federal government, including civil disorder, entering a … There were 9,264 housing units at an average density of 668.3 per square mile (258.0/km2). The works had been built two years earlier,[clarification needed] and while neglected for the most part since, were still formidable. We also know that during the 1964 Democratic Party National Convention in Atlantic City he actively pressured key delegates and his lieutenants to push aside Black demands for greater representation at the convention. The Selma Voting Rights Struggle: 15 Key Points from Bottom-Up History and Why It Matters Today. When state troopers met the demonstrators at the edge of the city by the Edmund Pettus Bridge, that day became known as "Bloody Sunday." On 25 March 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, where local African Americans, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian … These stories are left out of the movie because King was not in Selma when they happened. On March 7, 1965—the day now known as Bloody Sunday—a group of civil rights activists were brutally attacked by members of law enforcement during a peaceful march across Edmund Pettus Bridge. They were 8 feet (2.4 m) to 12 feet (3.7 m) high, 15 feet (4.6 m) thick at the base, with a ditch 4 feet (1.2 m) wide and 5 feet (1.5 m) deep along the front. White families in Selma, and some of the more affluent Black families, send their children to the better performing Meadowview Christian School where the student population is over 90% White. For every 100 females, there were 78.2 males. As a result of poor student performance, a state team has taken over day-to-day operation of the public schools headed by acting Superintendent Larry DiChiara, who is White. We have reviews of the best places to see in Selma. The city council members are: Corey D. Bowie, City Council President; Carl Bowline, Ward 1; Susan M. Keith, Ward 2; Miah Tolbert-Jackson, Ward 3; Angela Benjamin, Ward 4; Samuel L. Randolph, Ward 5; Johnnie Leashore, Ward 6; Jannie Thomas, Ward 7; Michael Johnson, Ward 8. This strategic concentration of manufacturing capabilities eventually made Selma a target of Union raids into Alabama late in the Civil War.[6]. The new leadership in Selma did little and even stole money from the campaign. The activists were attempting to walk 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest voter suppression of African Americans. 6 years ago. On March 30, 1865, Union General James H. Wilson detached Gen. John T. Croxton's brigade to destroy all Confederate property at Tuscaloosa. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote. Selma, Alabama. This activism generated national attention for social justice and that summer, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed by Congress to authorize federal oversight and enforcement of constitutional rights of all American citizens. Early the next morning, Forrest reached Selma; he advised Gen. Richard Taylor, departmental commander, to leave the city. 0 1. And organizers say this year’s Jubilee — will be a global event. Earthen forts were built to cover the grounds with artillery fire. Because of the brutal attacks, this became known as "Bloody Sunday." Other historical figures in this drama are assigned supporting roles (John Lewis), bit parts (the people of Selma), or play cartoon-like villains (George Wallace and J. Edgar Hoover) and King's foils (Lyndon Johnson). Gen. Emory Upton's Division was placed across the Range Line Road with Battery I, 4th US Artillery in support. In the 20th century, African-Americans were also lynched for labor-organizing activities. Governor George Wallace had vowed that the march would not be permitted. [clarification needed] [7]. March 6, 1965 - Alabama whites, calling themselves the Concerned White Citizens of Alabama, come to Selma to march in support of black rights. Anonymous. Finally, a Union cavalry charge broke the Confederate militia, causing Forrest to be flanked on his right. Forrest had hoped to bring his entire force to bear on Wilson. The Selma iron works and foundry was considered the second-most important source of weaponry for the South, after the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia. Over forty percent of households are single parent families, compared to about 17% in the United States as a whole. Mar 1, 2020, 8:12 pm It was initiated and organized by James Bevel, SCLC's Director of Direct Action, who was directing SCLC's Selma Movement. The racial makeup of the city was 80.3% Black or African American, 18.0% White, 0.20% Native American, 0.60% Asian, 0.1% other races, 0.80% from two or more races and Hispanics or Latinos, of any race, comprised 0.60% of the population. Selma, AL Directions {{::location.tagLine.value.text}} Sponsored Topics. Ralph Abernathy, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Greek Orthodox Father Iakovos (later Archbishop Iakovos of America) and Roman Catholic nuns. In August 2012, plans were announced to build a larger monument, more resistant to vandalism, but many African Americans object to it because of his established history as a postwar leader with the KKK and his earlier involvement in the massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow. The events at Selma helped increase public support for the cause; later that year the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a bill introduced, supported and signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Selma to Montgomery is a national historic trail in Alabama which traces the march of non-violent supporters of equal… As a result of the focus on King, two of the civil rights movement's more powerful vignettes, both covered in the documentary Eyes on the Prize, are left out of the movie. In 1977 US 80 was named Givhan Parkway in honor of the long-serving state senator Walter C. Givhan, a segregationist to the end. In 1920 the east-west Highway 80 was designated as part of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway. Forrest was wounded by a saber-wielding Union captain, whom he shot and killed with his revolver. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. The clashes didn’t discourage King: he organised two other marches shortly after. Reese, Marie Foster, and Amelia Boynton. ©2021 Verizon Media. [clarification needed] Gen. Rousseau made a dash in the direction of Selma, but was misled by his guides and struck the railroad forty miles east of Montgomery. [23][25][26], The Selma-Dallas County Public Library serves the city and the region with a collection of 76,751 volumes. [6] Planters and other slaveholders struggled with how to deal with freed slaves after the war. The 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., became known as Bloody Sunday because it ended in state troopers beating nonviolent protesters as … In 1996 it was designated as part of the 'National Civil Rights Trail' by President Bill Clinton and is administered by the National Park Service. What started as a virtual funeral, was transformed into a victory celebration as people joined together in singing "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around." St. James Hotel and a portion of Water Avenue in Selma, Queen City of the Black Belt, Butterfly Capital of Alabama. Southside ranks in the bottom 25% percent of state high schools as measured by student performance; Selma in the bottom 12%. He credited the event with giving his parents the idea that they could have a child. But history is much more complicated. King pulled the marchers back from entering the county and having another confrontation with county and state forces. The Confederacy's Greatest Cavalryman by Brian Steel Wills, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Southeastern League of Professional Baseball, "Selma, Alabama memorializes lynching victims, March 05, 2018", "Selma & the March to Montgomery-A Discussion November–June, 2004–2005", Ari Berman, "Fifty Years After Bloody Sunday in Selma, Everything and Nothing Has Changed", "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990", David J. Krajicek, "On the Road to Selma, a Jim Crow Relic", "Shameful! In less than 30 minutes, Long's men had captured the works protecting the Summerfield Road. Nearly half of Selma's residents were black, but because of the restrictive electoral laws and practices in place since the turn of the century, only one percent were registered to vote, preventing them from serving on juries or serving in local office. Long's troops attacked in a single rank in three main lines, dismounted and shooting their Spencer's carbines, supported by their own artillery fire. Hudson Middle School and the School of Discovery. People turned their backs on Michael Bloomberg during his Selma speech The billionaire was speaking in front of a historically Black church in Alabama. County law enforcement was run by an elected county sheriff, whose jurisdiction included the grounds of the county courthouse. Legal. At 5 pm, however, Gen. Eli Long's ammunition train in the rear was attacked by advance elements of Forrest's scattered forces approaching Selma. Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. The Confederates abandoned the depot as well as the inner line of works. On "Bloody Sunday" in 1965, Lewis was beaten by Alabama state troopers. March 21, 1965 to March 25, 1965. 0 0. By March 1966, a year after the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, nearly 11,000 blacks had registered to vote in Selma, where 12,000 whites were registered. When I ask, "What happened in Selma?," I am really asking what has happened since the events portrayed in the movie and what happened to the struggle for civil rights and social justice in the United States that seemed so promising in 1965. I agree with an essay SUNY Geneseo professor of history Emilye Crosby wrote for the Zinn Education Project that the biggest problem with the movie is that its intense focus on the role of Martin Luther King and the first three months of 1965 takes attention away from the long struggle by the people of Selma and many others active in the Civil Rights movement to bring the issue of African American voting rights to a head in the United States. The North had learned of the importance of Selma to the Confederate military, and the US military planned to take the city. Anderson of Tabernacle Baptist Church, J.L. The city was planned and named as Selma by William R. King, a politician and planter from North Carolina who was a future vice president of the United States. But that night, white minister James Reeb, who had traveled to the city from Boston, was attacked and killed in Selma by members of the KKK. [13], In the summer of 1964, a sweeping injunction issued by local judge James Hare barred any gathering of three or more people under sponsorship of SNCC, SCLC or DCVL, or with the involvement of 41 named civil rights leaders. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.4 square miles (37 km2), of which 13.9 square miles (36 km2) is land and 0.6 square miles (1.6 km2) is water.[19]. King's question, "Where Do We Go from Here? Location of Selma in Dallas County, Alabama. The council's members were elected at-large by the entire city, and the white majority had managed to control the elections. In the 1960s, blacks who pushed the boundaries, attempting to eat at "white-only" lunch counters or sit in the downstairs "white" section of movie theaters, were still beaten and arrested. Taylor did so after giving Forrest command of the defense. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman first made an effort to reach it, but after advancing from the west as far as Meridian, Mississippi, within 107 miles (172 km) of Selma, his forces retreated back to the Mississippi River. Forrest's defenders consisted of his Tennessee escort company, McCullough's Missouri Regiment, Crossland's Kentucky Brigade, Roddey's Alabama Brigade, Frank Armstrong's Mississippi Brigade, General Daniel W. Adams' state reserves, and the citizens of Selma who were "volunteered" to man the works. The late US Rep. John Robert Lewis made his final journey on Sunday across the famous bridge in Selma, Alabama, where the towering civil rights … The city and rural region have struggled economically, as agriculture does not provide enough jobs. The city developed its own police force. They succeeded in overmounting the defenses and soon U.S. flags could be seen waving over the works from Range Line Road to Summerfield Road. Many soldiers were struck down with clubbed muskets, but they kept pouring into the works with their greater numbers. Share this article on Facebook. There is often no bottom at which to start, and when there is there's almost no room at the top. George Corley Wallace State Community College (Wallace Community College Selma) located at the edge of the city limits near Valley Grande, Alabama. A single gun from Upton's artillery would signal the attack to be undertaken by the entire Federal Corps. Push for Voting Rights Sparked Selma Protests. The racial makeup of the city was 70.68% Black or African American, 28.77% White, 0.10% Native American, 0.56% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.22% from other races, and 0.66% from two or more races. He is still at the bottom, despite the few who have penetrated to slightly higher levels. In 2000 sections of Highway 80 leading into Selma were renamed in honor of leaders in the Selma Voting Rights Movement: F.D. There were 8,196 households, out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them; 34.2% were married couples living together, 27.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. Selma schools are not just poorly performing by Alabama standards but the situation is even more dire because by some measures Alabama itself has one of the poorest performing school systems in the United States. From the West Alabama News Network– Preparations for the Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee are underway in Selma. The Federal commander's plan was for Upton to send in a 300-man detachment after dark to cross the swamp on the Confederate right; enter the works, and begin a flanking movement toward the center moving along the line of fortifications. Two days after the first march, on March 9, 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr. led a symbolic march over the bridge. Highway 80, which runs east and west through Selma and the state has reflected this in naming patterns. Colleges in Selma include Selma University, and Selma is located at 32°24′26″N 87°1′16″W / 32.40722°N 87.02111°W / 32.40722; -87.02111,[18] west of Montgomery. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions. In a national report on fair student funding, Alabama received a grade of "D," although it did get a "C" for effort. Cultural events are held at the Performing Arts Center, and the Selma Art Guild Gallery. Industries in Selma include International Paper, Bush Hog (agricultural equipment), Plantation Patterns, American Apparel, and Peerless Pump Company (LaBour), Renasol, and Hyundai. Area attractions include the Old Town Historic District, Old Live Oak Cemetery, Paul M. Grist State Park, and Old Cahawba Archaeological Park. Males had a median income of $29,769 versus $18,129 for females. In consequence, Negroes are still impoverished aliens in an affluent society." Help. Overall, the district is ranked number 85 out of 100 school districts in the state. The white Democratic state legislature imposed Jim Crow laws of racial segregation in public facilities and other means of white supremacy. Threatened with a lawsuit under the Voting Rights Act, the council voted to adopt a system of electing its ten members from single-member districts. King was also in touch with the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who arranged for protection for another march. Much has changed since 1965. Their moral campaign had attracted thousands from across the country.[16]. if he has a whole bunch of secret service. Whites made up one-third of the marchers. Beginning in January 1965, SCLC and SNCC initiated a revived voting-rights campaign designed to focus national attention on the systematic denial of black voting rights in Alabama, and particularly in Selma. In front of this was a 5 feet (1.5 m)-high picket fence of heavy posts planted in the ground and sharpened at the top. US History Civil Rights Movement. In Selma, the county registration board opened doors for registration only two days a month, arrived late and took long lunches. High crime rates and segregated, poor quality education, are major problems in Selma today. Check flight prices and hotel availability for your visit. They were anchored on the north and south by the Alabama River. Ten figures clambered over piles of rubble from the old cotton warehouse, picking up bricks. Alabama “What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It was a cold day for Selma, Alabama, close to freezing, and as the sun disappeared … Seventeen marchers were hospitalized and 50 more were treated for lesser injuries. In the darkness, the Federals rounded up hundreds of prisoners, but hundreds more escaped down the Burnsville Road, including generals Forrest, Armstrong, and Roddey. Posted on 03/27/2008 10:36:25 AM PDT by TheDotte. Especially in the post-World War II period, legal challenges by the NAACP against Southern discriminatory laws enabled blacks to more freely exercise their constitutional rights as citizens. ", remains the crucial one for people who believe in social justice. Because of its military importance, Selma had been fortified by three miles of earthworks that ran in a semicircle around the city. The Confederate forces were defeated during the Battle of Selma, in the final full month of the war. Why. Well, Selma was in the car with Louie and they drove off a cliff and died, that's what happened to Selma. [clarification needed] Gen. Benjamin Grierson, invading with a cavalry force from Memphis, Tennessee, was intercepted and returned. They spent the next week destroying the arsenal and naval foundry. Much has changed since 1965. He had placed Gen. Eli Long's Division across the Summerfield Road with the Chicago Board of Trade Battery in support. The state ranks 49th in school funding and since 2008 leads the nation in state budget cuts to public education. Share this article on Twitter. What happened in Selma. Selma City Schools operates the city's public schools. The Voting Rights Act was seen by White supporters of civil rights as a final victory, but for Blacks it brought little immediate change. Later, the Black community gathered in Brown Chapel AME Church. French explorers and colonists were the first Europeans to explore this area. [3] About 80% of the population is African-American. What was the first date that protesters were assembled in Selma, AL on the Court House steps having their picture taken by National TV (NBC). In February 1892, Willy Webb was put in the jail in Selma after police arrested him in Waynesville. The "Black Belt" region of the South runs from Virginia through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and into the delta of the Mississippi River including portions of Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and the northwest section of Mississippi. The fighting there was heavy, but by 7 p.m. the superior numbers of Union troops had managed to flank the Southern positions. Activists planned a larger, more public march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery to publicize their cause. There was a downturn after restructuring in industry that had done well into the 1960s. This would be prior to the march on March 7, 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery, AL. Gen. 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The attack to be undertaken by the state law in new enterprises such movie... 9,264 housing units at an average density of 668.3 per square mile ( ).... Ch 26 Lesson 1 and 3 warehouse, picking up bricks jail in.. From across the country, including numerous clergy and nuns 's success, ordered his forward! 100 % African American also lynched for labor-organizing activities attracted thousands from across the country. [ ]! During his Selma what happened in selma, alabama and why the billionaire was speaking in front of the census of 2000, there 78.2. His rear economic retaliation of its military importance, Selma was protected by that! African Americans cultural events are held at the top as well Selma rights! Days later, they found their way blocked by Alabama state troopers and local police ordered!

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