The Selma Marches: “Turnaround Tuesday”

By | March 9, 2015

[March 09, 2015] The ignorance of history and its importance has always been the direct result of a lack of good leadership. Fortunately, the Selma marches – which were the turning point in the 1960s U.S. Civil Rights Movement – have lately been given a much needed airing in the media.

While the first march, known as “Bloody Sunday” shocked the nation and drew attention to the plight of blacks in the south, it was the second march that really changed things. The second Selma march on March 9th, 1965 did not go very far in distance but it pushed President Johnson into sending representatives to meet with voting rights leaders. The outcome was Johnson’s proposal of a Voting Rights Act and later the March 9th march was known as “Turnaround Tuesday” because it was the event that lead to federal government policy and law changes.1

Martin Luther King, Jr. restricted the March 9th marchers’ movement on the grounds of obeying the federal district court’s restraining order. Taking criticism for the decision, King was proved right and by the time the third Selma to Montgomery march commenced, it was the only one to actually travel the entire distance as originally planned and by that time the Voters Rights Act had been passed.

On March 25th, over 25,000 people arrived at the steps of the Alabama state capitol building where King gave his famous How Long, Not Long speech.

“The end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. … I know you are asking today, How long will it take? I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Most Americans have no knowledge of the events that took place in March, 50 years ago, or of the violence that occurred; almost exclusively against southern blacks. Legal barriers restricting blacks from voting were removed but today we still see bigotry in many forms that harm us as a nation. 

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[1] U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s speech before Congress to obtain approval of the Voting Rights Act included this line: “Even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause, too, because it is not just Negroes but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.”

 

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.