What Was the Significance of the Selma to Montgomery March?

The significance of the march from Selma to Montgomery in Alabama was the public awareness it brought to the civil rights movement. The march took place in 1965 from March 21 to March 25. Under orders from President Johnson, federal troops and Alabama National Guard members protected the marchers.

On Feb. 18, 1965, an Alabama state trooper shot and killed Jimmie Lee Jackson, an African-American peaceful demonstrator, in the town of Marion. In response to the tragedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., organized a protest march that would travel from Selma to Montgomery, a 54-mile walk. The first attempt on March 7 proved unsuccessful, as state troopers tear gassed the 600 marchers, forcing them to turn around. Television news outlets gave national audiences a view of the violence by the state troopers, which galvanized King and other leaders to try again. The second attempt on March 9 also failed, as state troopers once again blocked the road.

Following the marchers' arrival in Montgomery, approximately 50,000 black and white supporters turned out to lend their voices. After the march, President Johnson urged Congress to take steps to protect the voting rights of African-Americans, and that summer, Congress passed Voting Rights Act. The law banned many suspicious attempts to suppress the African-American vote.