About 600 people began a 50-mile march from Selma to the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery on March 7, 1965. They intended to protest discriminatory practices that prevented black people from voting. But as the marchers descended to the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state troopers used brutal force and tear gas to push them back.
The march, which became known as "Bloody Sunday," moved the nation to pass the landmark Voting Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight over elections in states with histories of discrimination. The new movie "Selma" portrays the march in vivid detail.
Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark's posse used tear gas, clubs, whips and ropes to turn back the demonstrators. Images of beaten and bloodied men, women and teenagers shocked the nation.
State troopers donned masks before they fired tear gas that sent the protesters running for safety. A National Voting Rights Museum and Institute was opened many years later at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Civil rights leaders Hosea Williams (wearing a suit) and John Lewis (on the ground) led the march on that Sunday afternoon. Lewis, who has been a congressman from Georgia since being elected in 1986, was badly injured in Selma, suffering a fractured skull after being beaten by troopers.
Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark used brute force with impunity to defend segregation in Alabama. On Bloody Sunday, when someone called for an ambulance to help the injured, Clark infamously declared, "Let the buzzards eat them."