On March 7, 1965, Alabama state police and volunteers “tore through a column of Negro demonstrators with tear gas, nightsticks and whips,” in an attempt to stop their march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in the name of equal voting rights for black Americans. Footage of the brutal attack on peaceful demonstrators galvanized civil rights activists; the Voting Rights Act, which bars racial discrimination in voting, was enacted five months later.
Half a century later, demonstrators marched again to commemorate the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” and to highlight the racism that still survives. Speaking to the crowd, president Barack Obama said, “Fifty years from Bloody Sunday, our march is not yet finished, but we’re getting closer.” (You can watch or read his full speech here.)
Here is a look at the marches in Selma, separated by 50 years:
Here’s what the march looked like today: