Selma, Alabama (JFK+50) Fifty years ago today, March 21, 1965, the third march for voting rights began here in Selma with 3200 participants led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and protected by troops of the United States Army and a federalized Alabama National Guard.
The first march began on "Bloody Sunday," March 7, 1965, but was stopped by police at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. A second "symbolic" march led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. two days later was intentionally stopped at the same bridge awaiting a court ruling.
The Court said...
"The law is clear that the right to petition one's government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups."
In other words, the State of Alabama could not legally do anything to hinder the march. The third march then,which was headed to Montgomery, the state capital, began with 3200 protesters.
They were led by Dr. King, Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Ralph Bunche, Frederick Douglas Reece, and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Rabbi Joshua later wrote...
"When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying."
The Court ruling stipulated that no more than 300 would be allowed to march along the two-lane portion of Highway 80. By the time the march reached Montgomery, however, there were 25,000 civil rights protesters.
Selma had been chosen as the place for the march to begin because of the city's resistance to registering African-American voters and because 98% of the city's black residents remained unregistered to vote.
"Selma-to-Montgomery March," National Park Service, www.nps.gov/
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) 52 years ago today, March 21, 1963, having just arrived back here in the Nation's Capital from a trip to Costa Rica, President John F. Kennedy held his fifty-second news conference at the State Department Auditorium.
The President began by making a brief introductory statement...
"For the first time a President of the United States (has) journeyed to Central America and conferred with all of the leaders of this vital area which (is) as closely allied with the U.S. as any area in the world."
"This is the 4th Latin American country which I have visited. Here, as in all the others, we found an....outpouring of....affection for the United States."
Later in the conference, a reporter was in the process of asking....
"Mr. President. Senator Case has proposed that a watchdog committee be created to look into these....."
when the President interrupted and said....
"To watch the Congressmen and Senators? Well, that will be fine if they feel they should be watched."