Here are some of the major events in that struggle.
1962-1963 – Representatives of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committeecome to Selma and begin staging protests.
Oct. 7, 1963 – In what would be known as “Freedom Day,” about 350 blacks line up to register to vote at the Dallas County Courthouse. Registrars go as slowly as possible and take a two-hour lunch break. Few manage to register, most of those are denied, but the protest is considered a huge victory by civil rights advocates.
July 9, 1964 – Dallas County Circuit Court Judge James Hare issues an injunction effectively forbidding gatherings of three or more people to discuss civil rights or voter registration in Selma.
Dec. 28, 1964 – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. presents the SCLC plan, the “Project for an Alabama Political Freedom Movement,” a plan conceived by James Bevel that calls for mass action and voter registration attempts in Selma and Dallas County.
Jan. 2, 1965 – King begins his Selma campaign when about 700 African Americans show up for a meeting at Brown Chapel in defiance of the injunction.
Jan. 18, 1965 – Black civil rights advocates meet at Brown Chapel. Following speeches and prayers, King and John Lewis lead 300 marchers out of the church. Selma Police Chief Wilson Baker allows them to march in small groups to the courthouse to register despite Hare’s injunction, but Sheriff Jim Clark has them line up in an alley beside the courthouse, where they are out of sight, and leaves them there. None is registered.
Jan. 19, 1965 – Protesters return to the courthouse to register and demand to remain at the front of the building. Clark arrests them, including Hosea Williams of the SCLC, Lewis of the SNCC and Amelia Boynton.
Jan. 22, 1965 – Since local teachers can be fired, few have taken overt roles in the civil rights movement, but Margaret Moore and the Rev. F.D. Reese, who is also a teacher at Hudson High, organize the unprecedented teachers’ march. Almost every black teacher in Selma — 110 of them — marches to register to vote. Clark and his deputies push them down the courthouse stairs three times, but they are not arrested.
Jan. 25, 1965 – King leads another march of about 250 people to the courthouse. When Clark painfully twists the arm of Annie Lee Cooper, 54, and shoves her, she slugs him — twice.
Feb. 1, 1965 – King and Ralph Abernathy lead a protest and refuse to break into smaller groups. Both are arrested and placed in the Selma jail, and refuse to be bonded out.
Feb. 4, 1965 – One day after addressing students at Tuskegee Institute, Malcolm Xspeaks to a crowd at Brown Chapel, carefully avoiding speaking about his previous differences with King concerning non-violence.
Feb. 4, 1965 – President Lyndon Johnson makes his first public statement supporting the Selma campaign.
Feb. 6, 1965 – President Johnson says he will urge Congress to enact a voting rights bill during the session.
February 1965 – Gov. George C. Wallace bans nighttime demonstrations in Selma and Marion, and assigns 75 troopers to enforce it.
Feb. 18, 1965 – State troopers attack marchers during a protest in Marion. State trooper James Bonard Fowler shoots and kills Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old deacon of the St. James Baptist Church. Fowler was charged with murder in 2007. He pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in 2010, when he was 67, saying he thought Jackson had been reaching for a weapon. He was sentenced to six months, but was released after five because of failing health.
March 5, 1965 – King flies to Washington to speak with President Johnson about the Voting Rights Bill. Then announces the plan for a massive march from Selma to Montgomery.
March 6, 1965 – Alabama whites, calling themselves the Concerned White Citizens of Alabama, come to Selma to march in support of black rights. Klan members have followed them into town to protest their march, and the demonstration breaks up as it is clear violence is about to break out.
March 7, 1965 – In what would become known as “Bloody Sunday,” John Lewis and Hosea Williams lead about 600 people on what is intended to be a march from Selma to Montgomery. But Alabama state troopers, some on horseback, and Clark and his deputies meet the marchers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. When the marchers refuse to disperse, they are driven back with billy clubs and tear gas, with 16 being hospitalized and at least 50 others injured. The national coverage of the event galvanizes the country, and King calls for volunteers from throughout the nation to come to Selma for another march on March 9.
March 8, 1965 – Fred Gray and the SCLC file Hosea Williams v George Wallace before U.S. District JudgeFrank M. Johnson Jr. in Montgomery, asking the court to prevent state troopers from blocking the march. Wallace representatives argue that the march should be blocked because it would block roadways, interfering with state commerce and transportation and be a threat to public safety. Johnson, concerned about the safety of the marchers, says the march should be put off until the court can hold a formal hearing and make a decision.
March 9, 1965 – Martin Luther King Jr. leads another march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. About 2,000 people, more than half of them white and about a third members of the clergy, participate in the second march. King leads the march to the bridge, then tells the protesters to disperse. The march becomes known as Turnaround Tuesday.
March 9, 1965 – James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister who had come from Boston and marched in the protest earlier in the day, is beaten severely by KKK members. He dies of head injuries two days later at the age of 38.
March 11, 1965 – Upset with the way the SCLC is handling things in Selma, James Forman and much of the SNCC staff move to Montgomery and begin a series of demonstrations. The group also asks for students from across the country to join them. Tuskegee Institute students come to Montgomery in an attempt to deliver a petition to Wallace.
March 13, 1965 – President Johnson meets with Wallace to decry the brutality surrounding the protests and asks him to mobilize the Alabama National Guard to protect demonstrators.
March 14, 1965 – SNCC staff members lead 400 Alabama State University students, joined by a group of white students from across the country, on a march from the ASU campus to the Capitol. Although Montgomery police react peacefully to the march, as the students approach the Capitol, state troopers, the sheriff’s office and a posse it has deputized attack the marchers. Photos of the violence make national headlines.
March 15, 1965 – President Johnson addresses Congress in support of a Voting Rights Bill, quoting the famous civil rights cry “We shall overcome.”
March 17, 1965 – Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. rules in favor of the marchers after receiving a Justice Department plan outlining their protection during the march.
March 17, 1965 – Despite the arguments between the SCLC and the SNCC, King joins Forman in leading a march of 2000 people in Montgomery to the Montgomery County courthouse. After the march, King announces the third Selma-to-Montgomery march. City of Montgomery officials apologize for the assault on SNCC protesters by county and state law enforcement and ask King and Forman to work with them on how best to deal with future protests in the city; student leaders promise they will seek permits for future protest marches. But Wallace continues to arrest protestors who venture on to state-controlled property.
March 18, 1965 – Wallace blasts Judge Johnson’s ruling, saying the state cannot afford to provide the security the marchers need and that he will ask the federal government for help.
March 19, 1965 – Wallace sends a telegram to President Johnson asking for help in providing security for the march.
March 20, 1965 – President Johnson issues an executive order authorizing the federal use of the Alabama National Guard to supply protection. He also sends 1,000 military policemen and 2,000 Army troops to escort the march from Selma.
March 21, 1965 – About 8,000 people assemble at Brown Chapel before starting the five-day march to Montgomery’s Capitol.
March 24, 1965 – Marchers rest at the City of St. Jude, a Catholic church and school complex on the outskirts of Montgomery, where Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez, Sammy Davis Jr., Nina Simone, Frankie Laine and Peter, Paul and Maryperform at a “Stars for Freedom” rally.
March 25, 1965 – During the Selma-to-Montgomery march, about 25,000 demonstrators join the marchers when they reach Montgomery for a final rally at the state Capitol. King delivers his famous “How Long, Not Long” speech.
March 25, 1965 – That night, Viola Liuzzo, a white mother of five who had driven from Detroit to help protest for black civil rights, is shot and killed by Ku Klux Klansmen as she drives toward Montgomery to pick up a carload of marchers. She was 39.
August 6, 1965 – President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law.