Monday, February 23, 2015

Bloody Sunday

In honor of black history month and the fact that we live in a very historical town...
we are posting some history on Marion, Alabama.  Marion is celebrating "Where It All Began"



Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.

During January and February, 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper.  In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7.

Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.

“Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world.  Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the final successful march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had hoped for. Yet Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act; it highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/bloody-sunday-selma-alabama-march-7-1965#sthash.94LxmBDk.dpuf
Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.

During January and February, 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper.  In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7.

Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.

“Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world.  Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the final successful march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had hoped for. Yet Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act; it highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/bloody-sunday-selma-alabama-march-7-1965#sthash.94LxmBDk.dpuf
Between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) had led a voting registration campaign in Selma, the seat of Dallas County, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county law enforcement officials, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern. SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute.

During January and February, 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper.  In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7.

Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, and, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists, crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery. Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot teargas and waded into the crowd, beating the nonviolent protesters with billy clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people.

“Bloody Sunday” was televised around the world.  Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection, King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9 but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the final successful march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had hoped for. Yet Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act; it highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/bloody-sunday-selma-alabama-march-7-1965#sthash.94LxmBDk.dpuf
“Bloody Sunday” on March 7, 1965, when Alabama Governor George Wallace sent state troopers to attack civil rights protesters crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the triumphant march from Selma to Montgomery that began on March 21 and ended March 25 with King speaking in front of 25,000 people at the state capitol.

Jimmie Lee Jackson, the activist whose brutal murder in nearby Marion at the hands of law enforcement helped spark the Selma marches.

Vera Jenkins Booker was the nurse who attend Civil Rights martyr Jimmie Lee Jackson the night he was shot. She also joined the marches and voter registration drives.

Vera Jenkins Booker was the nurse who attend CivilVera Jenkins Booker was the night supervisor on duty at Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma, Ala., the night Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot by an Alabama state trooper who followed him into a restaurant and shot him at close range as he tried to protect his mother and grandfather. The date was Feb. 18, 1965, and as those who have seen the movie Selma already know, it was the first in a chain of events that would focus the eyes of the world on the brutality of racism. The 26-year-old Baptist deacon was among those marching in the tiny town of Marion in protest of the discriminatory voter registration practices of the day; he had tried unsuccessfully to register for four years, and the struggle eventually cost him his life.

"He was in so much pain, and when I pulled up the shirt, that was when I saw a piece of gut the size of a small grapefruit," Booker recalls. She tended the wound as they waited for the doctor. "I said, 'You gonna be all right,' and he kinda calmed down."

She cared for him throughout the week, and through two surgeries. "He told me he was home from the service, and he said to me, 'I got a little girl, and I'm going to marry her mother.' I said, 'That's the thing to do, marry that little girl.' I was sure he was going to live."

His death eight days later was the match that ignited an already smoldering civil rights movement, kindling Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery marches, a summer of nonstop protest around the country, and in August, the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Those marches are the focus of an ambitious series of anniversary events in Selma and Montgomery that have already begun. At their peak, on the March 7 anniversary of Bloody Sunday, President Barack Obama is scheduled to make an appearance; other big names to help mark the event include Bernice King, who will be reading her father's seminal "How long? Not long" speech from the statehouse steps on March 25 in Montgomery, at the same time and spot as her father did.

The complicated history has led organizers to cluster the events around three important events: Bloody Sunday, when the marchers first tried to cross the Edmund Pettus bridge and were beaten back; Turn back Tuesday, two days later, when they tried again, met the police and kneeled to pray; and the week of March 20-25, when a court order and the U.S. National Guard made a successful march possible. There's lots going on in both places throughout the months of February and March, but highlights are clustered in Selma around March 7th, and in Montgomery around March 20-25. For a complete lineup of events, see their respective websites: http://selma50iwasthere.com and http://dreammarcheson.com.

"Walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge is something every American needs to do; it literally puts you in the footsteps of history," he said. "When you get to the crest you have to look ahead and imagine what it would be like to face police with dogs and masks and teargas. I don't know how many of us would be brave enough to walk into that but there were people who were."

But what really makes the place special for a visitor is the people, he said. "You can't go to the Alamo and talk to someone who fought at the siege; you can't go to Gettysburg and talk to someone who fought in the Civil War. But you can go to these places and talk to people who were part of a heroic movement. There's still people who were foot soldiers, leaders, people who took part. It's so hard to find heroes in this world that we're in – and I think these people were heroes."

People like Dr. Gwen Patton, a diminutive woman of 72 with a razor-sharp analysis, who describes herself as an archivist-activist. Organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and others, she began helping with the voting rights movement at the age of 8. It was around then that her grandparents turned their home into a citizenship school and began teaching neighbors how to pass the literacy test. Beginning as a child, she also worked alongside Rufus Lewis, whom she calls the Father of the Voting Rights Movement, until his death at 93.

"Just to have the courage to go down to register to vote was a feat in itself, because you knew you were going to be insulted if not assaulted," she said. "The registrar's office would have a sign out that said out to lunch – and they really were! – and there were only two days you could go down and register. It was so arbitrary and so mean."

She was on the front lines of those marches, and she's quick to point out that the movement began long before Selma and continues to this day. "This should not be a celebration; it should be an observance of what happened in '65 –and that which preceded it to make it possible, and that which happened afterward to carry it forward."

Like Patton, Dr. Howard Robinson, archivist at Alabama State University's National Center for the Study of Civil Rights in Montgomery, was quick to point out that the battle for voting rights is far from over.

"In 2015 there are still people who are challenging that right –for example the Voter ID laws and other strategies to reduce the number of people who are able to vote in the United States. These are 21st century tactics to reduce the opportunities for people to participate in the political process, and attacks on the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"What I think this celebration is, more than being able to celebrate a past accomplishment, is a reminder that we are really have to be vigilant about the right to vote that was established a half century ago."

Jimmie Lee Jackson - Civil Rights Activist (1938–1965)

Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed by an Alabama state trooper in 1965; his death inspired a civil rights demonstration that led to the Voting Rights Act.

Synopsis

Born in Alabama in 1938, Jimmie Lee Jackson became part of the Civil Rights Movement as a young man. After participating in a peaceful protest in Alabama in February 1965, he was shot by a state trooper. He died a few days later. His death inspired a voting rights march; the violence at that protest—known as "Bloody Sunday"—made more Americans favor civil rights, and made it possible to pass 1965's Voting Rights Act.

Early Life

On December 16, 1938, Jimmie Lee Jackson was born in Marion, Alabama, a small town located near Selma. After fighting in the Vietnam War and spending time in Indiana, he returned to his hometown. There, he made about $6 a day as a laborer and woodcutter. Jackson became a church deacon—the youngest one at his Baptist church—and fathered a daughter. Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, he also tried to vote for the first time in his life. He made several attempts to register as a voter, but never got past the many hurdles that had been set up to keep African Americans from casting ballots.

Shooting and Death

On February 18, 1965, Jackson took part in a peaceful night march in Marion, held to protest the arrest of James Orange, a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. However, even nonviolent demonstrations were opposed by the segregationists who held power in Alabama. That night, the town's streetlights were turned off; under the cover of darkness, police and state troopers attacked the protesters with clubs, sending them fleeing in different directions.

Still pursued by officers, Jackson and other demonstrators went into a restaurant called Mack's Café. There, Jackson was shot in the stomach by James Bonard Fowler, a state trooper. Witnesses recounted that Jackson had been protecting his mother and 82-year-old grandfather from the troopers. Fowler claimed he had been acting in self-defense, trying to keep Jackson from grabbing his gun.

The injured Jackson was first taken to a local hospital, then sent to a hospital in Selma. He lingered for a week before dying from his infected wound on February 26, 1965. He was only 26 years old. Though Al Lingo, head of the state troopers, had sent an arrest warrant to Jackson while he was in the hospital, Fowler had faced no punishment or disciplinary action, and was allowed to continue in his job.


Civil Rights Martyr

Jackson's shooting was condemned by leaders of the Civil Rights Movement such as Martin Luther King Jr.—who had visited Jackson in the hospital—John Lewis and James Bevel. On March 3, King spoke at Jackson's funeral, where he said that Jackson had been "murdered by the brutality of every sheriff who practices lawlessness in the name of law."

Jackson's death also inspired civil rights leaders to hold the Selma to Montgomery March on March 7, 1965. There was a violent response awaiting these demonstrators as well: When they arrived at Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge, police used tear gas and batons against them. Images of the violence—the protest came to be known as "Bloody Sunday"—were shared across the country, making the public more supportive of the civil rights struggle.

Two weeks after "Bloody Sunday," another march set out from Selma. By the time the marchers arrived in Montgomery, there was a crowd of 25,000 people. The Voting Rights Act became law in August 1965. The legislation fought the discriminatory measures that had kept African Americans like Jackson from voting.