On March 7, 1965, state troopers and a sheriff’s posse in Selma, Ala., attacked 525 civil rights demonstrators taking part in a march between Selma and Montgomery, the state capital. The march was organized to promote black voter registration and to protest the killing of a young black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a state trooper during a Feb. 18 voter registration march in a nearby city.
The New York Times on March 8 described the day’s events. As the demonstrators crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, they were ordered by the police to disperse. When they stood in place, the troopers charged at them.“The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and legs flying and packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider strip and on to the pavement on both sides,” The Times wrote. “Those still on their feet retreated. The troopers continued pushing, using both the force of their bodies and the prodding of their nightsticks.”
The police also fired tear gas at the crowd and charged on horseback. More than 50 demonstrators were injured. The Times described a makeshift hospital near the local church: “Negroes lay on the floors and chairs, many weeping and moaning. A girl in red slacks was carried from the house screaming.” Amelia Boynton lay semiconscious on a table. “From the hospital came a report that the victims had suffered fractures of ribs, heads, arms and legs, in addition to cuts and bruises.”The day of violence, which became known as Bloody Sunday, was covered in newspapers across the country and broadcast on national news, outraging many Americans.