♪ ANNOUNCER: In 1965, ten years of struggle for civil rights would culminate in one city: Selma, Alabama.
The governor and the mayor did not believe in voting rights for Blacks, and activists from North and South were pouring into the city.
This is the true story of the march to Selma.
Nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, from the landmark series Eyes on the Prize, "Bridge to Freedom."
Selma, Alabama-- 1965.
MAN: I don't need to leave.
We've come to register to vote.
WOMAN: If you can't vote, you ain't free.
And if you ain't free, well, then you're a slave.
We're willing to be beaten for democracy.
NARRATOR: Years of struggle came down to this climactic battle for voting rights.
Before it ended, black and white Americans gave their lives.
But would that be enough?
MAN: You beat people bloody in order that they will not have the privilege to vote!
♪ I know the one thing we did right ♪ ♪ Was the day we started to fight ♪ ♪ Keep your eyes on the prize ♪ Hold on, hold on ♪ Keep your eyes on the prize ♪ Hold on.
In the areas of the country where the government has proven itself unable or unwilling to defend the Negroes when they are being brutally and unjustly attacked, then the Negroes themselves should take whatever steps necessary to defend themselves.
NARRATOR: To many Americans, black and white, this was their worst nightmare-- race riots in northern cities during the summer of 1964.
The civil rights movement was ten years old.
Nonviolence had been the strategy.
But could nonviolence work in a society which grew angrier each day?
On behalf of the Nobel Committee... NARRATOR: To the world, Martin Luther King, Jr., had come to symbolize the success of nonviolent strategy.
He received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1964.
...diploma and a gold medal.
Thank you very much.
(applause) (brass fanfare) NARRATOR: But in America, young militants were beginning to challenge King's leadership.
Dallas County, Selma, Alabama.
For more than a year, organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee-- S.N.C.C.-- had worked with local residents in waging a voter registration campaign.
They met solid resistance.
(man speaking over bullhorn) MAN: Everyone not under arrest, you're going to leave immediately.
NARRATOR: By the end of 1964, S.N.C.C.
was exhausted, with little money to continue.
Selma's black leaders turned to Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference for help.
Today marks the beginning of a determined, organized, mobilized campaign.
NARRATOR: King's presence reopened an old rivalry between the ministers of S.C.L.C.
and the young organizers of S.N.C.C.
We felt that there should be a projection and an organization of indigenous leadership, of leadership from the community, whereas the Southern Christian Leadership Conference took the position that Martin was a charismatic leader who was mainly responsible for raising money and they raised most of the money off of his leadership.
But this differences in leadership then led to differences in style of work.
We wanted a movement that would survive the loss of our lives; therefore, the necessity to build a broad-based movement and not just a charismatic leader.
put aside their differences and launched a combined effort on January 18, 1965.
The Dallas County courthouse steps became a dramatic stage as prospective voters lined up for the registrar's office inside.
The key actor was Sheriff Jim Clark.
CLARK: Are you a resident of Dallas county?
No, I'm not.
You move back off the sidewalk, then-- get on back there.
Get on back, move off.
How far do I have to move?
Move off-- move off, move off.
You get back off the sidewalk.
I said off the sidewalk.
Move back there.
You are blocking the traffic and you have to get in the line.
There's no traffic, there's no line.
NARRATOR: Movement leaders counted on Clark to draw media attention-- the kind of attention that would interest Washington and win voting rights legislation.
I am a segregationist.
I do not believe in biracial committees.
NARRATOR: Selma's political leaders understood the movement's tactics and were desperate not to get caught in the middle.
Mayor Joseph Smitherman and his public safety director, Wilson Baker, hoped to restrain the volatile Sheriff Clark as he dealt with the demonstrators.
They picked Selma just like a movie producer would pick a set.
You had the right ingredients.
I mean, you'd have had to seen Clark in his day.
He had a helmet liner like General Patton.
He had the clothes-- the Eisenhower jacket and the swagger stick-- and then Baker was very impressive.
I guess I was the least of all.
I was 145 pounds and a crewcut and big ears.
So you had a young mayor with no background or experience.
Our city and our county has been subjected to the greatest pressures I think any community in the country has had to withstand.
We've had in our area here outside agitation groups of all levels.
We've had Martin Luther Coon... uh, King... pardon me, sir-- Martin Luther King, we have had people of the Nazi Party, the States' Rights Party.
Both of these groups have come in.
They have continually harassed and agitated us for approximately three or four weeks.
NARRATOR: More than half of Dallas County's citizens were black, but less than 1% were registered by 1965.
Throughout much of the South, custom and law had long prevented blacks from registering.
In Selma, the registrar's office was open only two days a month.
Registrars would arrive late, leave early and take long lunch hours.
Few blacks who lined up would get in, and getting in was no guarantee of being registered.
President Johnson knew the problem.
And now, having soundly defeated conservative Barry Goldwater in the recent election, he set this goal.
I propose that we eliminate every remaining obstacle to the right and the opportunity to vote.
(applause) NARRATOR: But Johnson's staff had doubts about pushing for more legislation.
I think those of us who had been involved day in and day out in civil rights litigation, in getting the 1964 Civil Rights Act through Congress were the people who were dragging our feet and wanted breathing room.
The president didn't want that.
He said, "Get it and get it now, "because we'll never have a better opportunity "to get legislation on any subject, including civil rights, "than we have right now in 1965.
We have the majority to do it, and we can do it."
NARRATOR: Although Sheriff Clark tried to control his temper, the strain began to show.
In mid-January, he arrested Mrs. Amelia Boynton, a highly respected community leader.
Angered by Mrs. Boynton's arrest, 105 local teachers marched to the courthouse in protest, knowing they might be fired by the white school board.
This courthouse is a serious place of business.
You seem to think you can take it for... just to be a Disneyland or something on parade.
Do you have business in the courthouse?
MAN: We just want to pass through.
Do you have any business in the courthouse?
The only business we have was to come by for the board of registrars to register.
The board of registrars is not in session this afternoon, as you were informed.
You came down to make a mockery out of this courthouse and we're not going to have it.
Now, move, move, move, move!
Off the sidewalk, get off the sidewalk.
So I saw then that he was not going to arrest us, as I really wanted him to do.
Therefore, we asked the teachers there to regroup and we marched back, not to the school but to Brown Chapel Church, at which time there was a rally held.
LEADER AND CONGREGATION: ♪ This little light of mine ♪ I'm gonna let it shine ♪ This little light of mine ♪ I'm gonna let it shine... NARRATOR: The teachers' march was the first black middle-class demonstration in Selma.
Sheyann Webb and Rachel West were schoolchildren at the time.
And it was amazing to see how many teachers had participated.
I remember vividly on that day when I saw my teachers marching with me, you know, just for the right to vote.
And it was... teachers there was somewhat like up in the upper class, you know.
People looked up to teachers then and looked up to preachers.
They were somewhat like leaders for us back then.
Then the undertakers got a group and they marched.
The beauticians got a group; they marched.
Everybody marched after the teachers marched, because teachers had more influence than they ever dreamed in the community.
And we want you to know, gentlemen, that every one of you, we know your badge numbers, we know your names... NARRATOR: In mid-February, Reverend C.T.
Vivian, an S.C.L.C.
organizer, confronted Sheriff Clark and his deputies on the courthouse steps.
But believe me, there were those that followed Hitler, like you blindly follow this Sheriff Clark, who didn't think their day would come.
But they also were pulled into a courtroom and they were also given their death sentences.
You're not this bad a racist, but you're racist in the same way that Hitler was a racist.
And you're blindly following a man that's leading you down a road that's going to bring you into federal court.
Now, I am representing people in Dallas County, and I have that right to do so.
Now, and as I represent them, and they can speak for themselves... is what I'm saying true?
Is it what you think and what you believe?
For this is not a local problem, gentlemen.
This is a national problem.
You can't keep anyone in the United States from voting without hurting the rights of all other citizens.
Democracy's built on this.
This is why every man has the right to vote, regardless.
And he started shouting at me that I was a Hitler, I was a brute, that I was a Nazi.
I don't remember everything he called me.
And I did lose my temper then.
We have come to be here because they are registering at this time.
Turn that light out.
I can't enforce the law with a light in my face.
We have come to register, and this is our reason for being here.
You're blinding me with that light.
You can arrest us, Sheriff Clark.
You can arrest us.
MAN: If you want to arrest us, arrest us.
You don't have to beat us.
No, you don't have to beat us.
I don't remember even hitting him, but I went to the doctor and got an x-ray and found out I had a linear fracture in a finger on my left hand.
With Jim Clark, it was a clear engagement between the forces of movement and the forces of the structure that would destroy movement.
It was a clear engagement between those who wished the fullness of their personalities to be met and those that would destroy us physically and psychologically.
You do not walk away from that.
This is what movement meant.
Movement meant that finally we were encountering, on a mass scale, the evil that had been destroying us on a mass scale.
You do not walk away from that.
You continue to answer it.
If we're wrong, why don't you arrest us?
Why don't you get out in front of the camera and go on?
It's not a matter of being in front of the camera.
It's a matter of facing your sheriff and facing your judge.
We're willing to be beaten for democracy.
And you misuse democracy in the street.
You beat people bloody in order that they will not have the privilege to vote.
Why don't you go on?
You beat me on the side and then hide your blows.
I don't need to leave.
We have come to register to vote.
OFFICER: You're under arrest.
VIVIAN: Is everybody under arrest?
Let's all go!
I'm here to tell you tonight that the businessmen, the mayor of this city, the police commissioner of this city and everybody in the white power structure of this city must take a responsibility for everything that Jim Clark does in this community.
(crowd cheering and applauding) it's time for us to say to these men that if you don't do something about it, we will have no alternative but to engage in broader and more drastic forms of civil disobedience in order to bring the attention of the nation to this whole issue in Selma, Alabama.
NARRATOR: The campaign in Selma escalated when violence erupted during a march in a neighboring town.
The march in Marion, Alabama, was a nighttime march, and a nighttime march was always dangerous.
And there was always discussion within the movement whether or not to have nighttime marches, because they knew they were dangerous.
We went up there this night and we knew there was going to be trouble right away, because local folks came up to us and threatened us, sprayed our cameras with black paint so we couldn't shoot, ordered us to put the cameras down and harassed us, and it was a very tense situation.
The whole town was surrounded that night by auxiliary police, state troopers, sheriffs and everybody who wanted to come in, really, who felt like beating folk up.
We went around the side of the church in an effort to get back into the church.
Some of us tried to go back in the front door and some of us just went where we could, because as we moved, they also moved.
They was whipping us as we went.
Somebody walked up behind me and hit me with an ax handle-- hit me in the head with an ax handle, drew blood, which required stitches and I was taken to the hospital.
But before I left, a white man walked up to me and he said, "Are you hurt?
Do you need a doctor?"
And I was stunned and I put my hand to the back of my head and I pulled it back and it was full of blood.
And I said to him, "Yeah, I think I do-- I'm bleeding."
And then he thrust his face right up against mine and he said, "Well, we don't have doctors for people like you."
NARRATOR: That same night, a young man named Jimmy Lee Jackson attempted to protect his mother from a similar attack.
He was shot at point-blank range by an Alabama state trooper and died eight days later.
CROWD: ♪ Deep in my heart, I do believe ♪ ♪ We shall overcome someday.
He was murdered by the irresponsibility of every politician, from governors on down, who has fed his constituents the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism.
He was murdered by the timidity of a federal government that can spend millions of dollars a day to keep troops in South Vietnam and cannot protect the lives of its own citizens seeking the right to vote.
CHOIR: ♪ We've been 'buked ♪ And we've been scorned ♪ But we'll never turn back.
I just thought during that period it was just too much, too much; too many, too many funerals.
And some of us would say, "How many more?"
We was infuriated to the point that we wanted to carry Jimmy's body to George Wallace and dump it on the steps of the capitol.
We had got about like the white folk are.
We had determined, decided that we were going to get killed or we were going to be free.
I'm going to be frank about it.
And all of us, just about, felt that way.
So we had intended to do everything we could, so we was mad, I guess you'd say, and we said that we would take Jimmy down and just put his casket on the doorsteps of the capitol.
In the nonviolent movement, if you went back to some of the classical strategies of Gandhi, when you have, say, great violation of the people and there's a great sense of injury, you have to give people an honorable means and context in which to express and eliminate their grief and speak decisively and succinctly back to the issue.
Otherwise, your movement will break down in violence and chaos.
NARRATOR: As a response to Jimmy Lee Jackson's death, S.C.L.C.
proposed a symbolic march that would begin in Selma and travel 54 miles to the capitol in Montgomery.
So, agreeing to go to Montgomery was that kind of tool that would absorb a tremendous amount of energy and effort and it would keep the issue of disenfranchisement before the whole nation.
And the whole point of walking from Selma to Montgomery-- it would take you five to six days, which would give you the time to discuss in the nation through the papers, radio, television and going around speaking, what the real issues were.
NARRATOR: Governor Wallace was determined that the march would not take place.
Such action would not be allowed on the part of any other group of citizens or non-citizens of the state of Alabama and will not be allowed in this instance.
Government must proceed in an orderly manner, and lawful and law-abiding citizens must transact their business with the government in such a manner.
There will be no march between Selma, Alabama, and Montgomery, and I have so instructed the Department of Public Safety.
NARRATOR: despite the governor's ban, 600 people gathered at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church on Sunday, march 7, to begin the march to Montgomery.
Dr. King was preaching in Atlanta.
Hosea Williams and John Lewis led the march.
Lewis chose to march even though his organization-- the student nonviolent coordinating committee-- opposed S.C.L.C.
's strategy and decided not to take part.
Surprisingly, as they walked through the center of town, there were no police in sight.
The route out of Selma crossed over the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Sheyann and I went to the Edmund Pettus Bridge, there where I turned around and left Sheyann, simply because, I'm telling you, I was afraid.
NARRATOR: Waiting on the other side were Alabama state troopers under orders from Governor Wallace to stop the marchers.
Clark's posse was on the sidelines.
POLICEMAN: It would be detrimental to your safety to continue this march, and I'm saying that this is an unlawful assembly.
You're to disperse.
You are ordered to disperse.
Go home or go to your church.
This march will not continue.
Is that clear to you?
I've got nothing further to say to you.
(observers yelling and hooting) (canisters exploding as yelling continues) (people continue yelling) (people coughing) All I could remember was outbursts of tear gas and I saw people being beaten, and I began to just try to run home as fast as I could.
And as I began to run home, I saw horses behind me, and I will never forget.
A freedom fighter picked me up-- Hosea Williams.
I told him to put me down, he wasn't running fast enough.
And I ran, and I ran, and I ran.
We were about two blocks away from the bridge and we went back to try to help people back.
But the police were riding along on horseback beating people.
And the tear gas was so thick you couldn't get to where people were in need of help.
And so we really had to turn the church into a hospital just to get people back to their senses.
And it was a horrible two or three hours.
NARRATOR: Shock gave way to anger.
There was talk of retaliation.
There were people who came back to the church and started talking about going to get their guns.
You had to talk them down.
And you had to talk them down by simply asking questions-- what kind of gun you got?
How's that going to hold up against the automatic rifles and 10-gauge shotguns that they've got?
And how many you got?
There are at least 200 shotguns out there with buckshot in them.
You ever see buckshot?
You ever see what buckshot does to a deer?
And most of them had.
And you make people think about the specifics of violence and then they realize how suicidal and nonsensical it is.
NARRATOR: The day after "Bloody Sunday," Governor Wallace reprimanded law enforcement officers for the scene on the bridge.
It was something that happened that... it enraged me, because I didn't intend for it to happen that way.
But I didn't want them to get beyond that point where there were some people that told me there might be some violence.
NARRATOR: Sunday night, the television networks broke into regular programming to show these scenes to a national audience.
ABC interrupted its primetime movie, Judgment at Nuremburg, a film about Nazi war crimes.
When that beating happened at the foot of the bridge, it looked like a war.
That went all over the country.
And then people... the wrath of the nation came down on us.
Governor Wallace had made clear his intention to prevent this march on the grounds of public safety and danger on the highways.
While we knew there would be a confrontation-- state and local law enforcement officials were prepared for major disorder-- we had no reason to believe that local law enforcement officials would set upon nonviolent and peaceful citizens in the way in which they did.
On prior occasions, this has not occurred.
Shame on you, George Wallace, for the wet ropes that bruised the muscles, for the bullwhips that cut the flesh, for the clubs that broke the bones and for the tear gas that seared the eyes and the nose and the nostrils and the lungs and choked people into insensibility.
This is not the American way.
When this happened at Selma and I saw it on television, to me it expanded beyond civil rights, beyond whether you vote or where you sit in a restaurant or in a cafe or on planes or trains or buses; it became a matter of human life, and it became an issue that transcended any of those we were voting on.
It became bigger than that.
After the beating on the bridge, we immediately sent out a call for our friends.
We didn't think we could provide... we could count on police protection.
People said we should send in the National Guard.
We didn't think that they would send in the National Guard to protect black people.
And so we sent out a call to people of goodwill.
NARRATOR: From all over the country, people came to Selma, among them 450 white clergymen.
REESE: Here are a group of people, black and white, saying to us, "We are here "to share with the people of Selma "in this struggle for the right to vote.
"We have seen on the television screen "the violence that took place and we're here to share with you."
MAN: ♪ Oh, Governor Wallace, oh, yeah ♪ ♪ You never can jail us all, Governor Wallace... ♪ REESE: And you could feel a change in the atmosphere, a spirit of inspiration, motivation and, seemingly, hope coming back into the eyes and into the minds of these people, and then renewed commitment to the nonviolent method.
NARRATOR: They planned to march on Tuesday.
But President Johnson wanted them to wait until they could be sure there would be no violence.
In Montgomery, another Johnson, federal judge Frank Johnson, banned the march pending a hearing.
Dr. King had never violated a federal order, but there was increasing pressure to march, especially from S.N.C.C.
My name is James Forman.
I'm executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
NARRATOR: The S.C.L.C.
ministers left the decision about marching to King.
The young members of S.N.C.C., angered by Sunday's attack, wanted to be sure King wouldn't back down.
Federal injunctions and court injunctions have been handed down in the past, and the people here have to make up their minds and make certain decisions themselves about what it is that they want to do.
NARRATOR: There was private disagreement, but public unity.
There's no disagreement between S.N.C.C.
and S.C.L.C., and that's not at issue here.
The announcement was made to the people in the audience that the march that Tuesday would go forward, all right.
But some of us also knew that Dr. King had told Judge Johnson that he was going to call off the march.
So we had a meeting from about 11:00 to 5:00 that morning where we were trying to lay out to him the necessity to keep his word to the people that the march would go forward and that it would not be called off.
We have no alternative but to keep moving with determination.
We've gone too far now to turn back.
And, in a real sense, we are moving and we cannot afford to stop because Alabama, and because our nation, has a date with destiny.
NARRATOR: Tuesday, March 9.
2,000 marchers set out to cross the Pettus Bridge.
This time, there were politicians, labor and church leaders, members of S.N.C.C., the widow of a U.S. senator and a few Southern whites.
They were side by side with those who had been beaten two days earlier.
POLICEMAN: You are ordered to stop.
Stand where you are.
This march will not continue.
NARRATOR: The marchers asked to kneel and pray.
PREACHER: ...because we know that America was founded on the principles that all men are created equal-- not just white men, but all men.
We don't have much money, but we do have our bodies, and we lay them on the altar for thee and for our freedom today.
NARRATOR: Then Dr. King turned the marchers around and walked back across the bridge.
(marchers singing) Some expressed relief, others shock.
MAN: All of a sudden, I realized that the people in front were turning around and coming back, and I was aghast.
What is going on?
Are we not going to go through with this confrontation?
The truth of it was that there was nothing much else to do.
We'd been ordered by a judge not to go any further.
If we had run into that police line, they would have beaten us up with court approval.
members would call the turnaround a sellout, worsening the split between them and S.C.L.C.
For others, there was a sense of confusion.
MILLER: We waited to hear Dr. King's explanation of why this had been.
We never fully understood.
But we did understand his saying, "As many of you as can, could you stay a few more days?
Could you remain?"
Most of us had come without even a toothbrush, because we thought it was a one-day event.
But nevertheless, a number of us decided to stay, I among them.
NARRATOR: Later that evening, Reverend Miller, along with ministers Clark Olson and James Reeb, were returning from dinner.
Unfamiliar with the town, they took a wrong turn past the Silver Moon Cafe.
And as we started walking, from across the street, there appeared four or five white men, and they yelled at us, "Hey, you niggers!"
And we did not look across at them, but we just sort of quickened our pace-- we didn't run, but continued walking in the same direction.
And they apparently came across the street from our left and behind us, and one of them was carrying a club.
And Clark said he turned around and saw the club just as it was swung, and Jim Reeb, being closest to the curb, caught the full impact of that blow.
NARRATOR: James Reeb died two days later.
MAN AND WOMAN: ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ To be free in your life?
NARRATOR: News of the attack provoked a national outcry.
In many cities, demonstrators protested the violence in Selma.
♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ Ain't you got a right ♪ To be free in your life?
NARRATOR: Some blacks were angry that the death of a white minister stirred a nation that had ignored the death of Jimmy Lee Jackson.
What it seemed to me is that the movement itself is playing into the hands of racism.
Because what you want is a nation to be upset when anybody is killed, and especially when one of us is killed.
Then, so we just played into the hands of racism.
And it's almost like, you know, for us to be recognized a white person must be killed.
Well, what are you saying?
NARRATOR: When the police barricaded the area around Brown Chapel, S.N.C.C.
withdrew from the Selma campaign in frustration.
The barricades were to keep hostile whites out, the protesters in.
One group, led by Jimmy Webb, broke free of the barricade.
They were stopped by Clark's men.
POLICEMAN: I can't follow you, and I'm not going to follow you and give you personal protection.
I am telling you, for your own benefit, you had better turn around and get out of this area.
You're not going to the courthouse in a group under the conditions that you come here.
I assure you that.
All we would like to do, sir, is to go...
The courthouse is closed.
We don't want to go in the courthouse.
All we want to do is go to the lawn of the courthouse and kneel in prayer, and we'll gladly return... You take your prayers back to your church.
That's the proper place to pray.
I'm sure that God will hear your prayer just as well down there as he will up here, but you're not going on this courthouse lawn.
Sir, whenever there are men who are in sinful conditions, prayers should be uttered wherever they are.
Why don't you pray where you are?
Go back down there and pray.
You think you're lily white?
No, I don't.
Do you think you're not sinful?
No, I don't.
Well, then go back to your church and pray.
Well, sir, can we pray together, you and I?
You do your praying, I'll do mine, big boy.
I don't want you to pray for me.
Well, will you pray for us?
Because I don't think your prayers get above your head.
Well, will you pray for us?
No, I'm not going to pray for you.
I'll tend to my business, you tend to yours.
Now, you got to move these people out of here.
MAN: We're trying to protect you.
WOMAN: You have to know how to love before you can pray.
I don't have to love anybody I don't want to love.
You do your own loving.
You love your little niggers, I'll love who I please.
Do you believe in equal justice for all?
I believe in justice.
Do you believe in equal justice?
I don't believe in equal nothing.
There's no two people in this world alike.
They're not equal under any terms or conditions.
There's no two peas in the world alike, no two pieces of money nor nothing else.
Then, sir, are you saying that if I have a quarter and I'm black and you have a quarter and you're white, then my quarter isn't worth as much as yours?
That's your quarter.
I'll decide what my quarter is worth.
You use yours and I'll use mine.
MAN: You buy you a catfish sandwich with yours.
I have nothing else to say.
What's the deal here now?
You people in this small group want to turn and walk on back to the rest of the group down there waiting on you?
Do we have your protection?
We'll do everything we can, just go on back down there.
You didn't have any coming up here.
NARRATOR: Plans for the march to Montgomery remained at a standstill pending a federal court decision.
Now, protecting the marchers became an issue for both President Johnson and Governor Wallace.
We got a report how much it would take to guarantee absolute protection for everyone, and we didn't have the resources, so I called on President Johnson under article four, section four of the constitution to send us troops to help us maintain order.
NARRATOR: Wallace met with President Johnson in Washington on March 13.
What happened in the meeting was that the president totally snowed him.
Governor Wallace didn't quite grovel, but he was so pliant by the end of the two hours, with President Johnson putting his arm around him and squeezing him and telling him it's a moment of history and "How do we want to be remembered in history?
"Do we want to be remembered as petty little men "or do we want to be remembered as great figures that faced up to our moments of crisis?"
And that kind of thing.
And then he led Governor Wallace out in the hopes that Governor Wallace-- who was by that time like a rubber band-- would give a press statement that confirmed his determination to protect the marchers at Selma, comply with the court order from Judge Johnson and act like a responsible governor.
Well, all I can say is that I am very hopeful that we can have a solution to the problems that confront us in this regard and that I did request, I did make some suggestions and I hope that we can have a cessation, sometime, of the demonstrations, although I recognize the right to peacefully assemble, but I do think there are limitations, but that's all for the moment.
NARRATOR: Governor Wallace still refused to pay for protecting the marchers.
President Johnson, sensing the mood of the country, addressed Congress on national television.
What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America.
NARRATOR: Eight days after Bloody Sunday, four days after Reeb's death, the president asked for a comprehensive voting rights bill and astonished the nation by using the words of the movement.
Their cause must be our cause, too.
Because it's not just Negroes, but really, it's all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.
And we shall overcome.
(applause) Lyndon Johnson came on, the late president, and said, "We shall overcome."
And that just like... uh, you'd stuck a dagger in your heart or something like that.
I mean, what's this guy doing?
And, you know, you had respect for your country-- the South's very patriotic-- but it just destroyed everything you'd been allegedly fighting for.
We were all sitting around together.
And Martin was sitting in a chair, looking toward the TV set.
And when L.B.J.
said, "And we shall overcome," we all cheered.
And I looked over toward Martin.
Martin was very quietly sitting in the chair and a tear ran down his cheek.
It was a victory like none other.
It was an affirmation of the movement.
NARRATOR: But S.N.C.C.
didn't see any victory.
In Montgomery, where they had moved operations, they were being beaten by Alabama police as they tried to confront Governor Wallace.
(people shouting) Hey, can we get a doctor?
Can we get a doctor?!
There's only one man in this country that can stop George Wallace and those posses.
We can present thousands and thousands of bodies in the streets if we want to, and we can have all of the soul force and the moral commitment around this world, but a lot of these problems will not be solved until that place called the White House begins to shake and gets on the phone and says, "Now listen, George, "we're coming down there and throw you in jail if you don't stop that mess."
That's the only way it's going to be stopped.
It's not just the sheriff of this county or the mayor, or the police commissioner or George Wallace.
This problem goes to the very bottom of the United States.
And you know I said it today, and I will say it again-- if we can't sit at the table, let's knock the (no audio) legs off!
(applause) There are points that we agree on and there are still points that we must negotiate before we come to a final resolution of the problem.
NARRATOR: Martin Luther King tried to calm the situation in Montgomery while waiting, still, for the court decision on the march.
MAN: Pull it back.
Let me give you this statement, which I think will come... MAN: Get the mike down, get the mike down.
...as an expression of deep joy to all of us.
Judge Johnson has just ruled that we have a legal and constitutional right to march from Selma to Montgomery.
(crowd cheering) NARRATOR: The judge's action cleared the way for the march, but Governor Wallace still refused to provide the necessary protection.
So President Johnson federalized the Alabama National Guard.
Sunday, March 21.
Only 62 days after the campaign began, 3,200 people gathered at Brown Chapel Church for the journey to Montgomery.
KING: We are going to walk nonviolently and peacefully to let the nation and the world know we are tired now.
We've lived with slavery and segregation 345 years.
We waited a long time for freedom.
We are trying to remind the nation of the urgency of the moment.
Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.
Now is the time to transform Alabama-- the heart of Dixie-- to a state with a heart for brotherhood and peace and goodwill.
Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
Let's move the line a little faster.
MAN: ♪ We're marching on to freedom land ♪ ♪ We're marching on to freedom land ♪ ♪ Thus our strength from day to day ♪ ♪ As we walk the narrow way ♪ We're going forward, we're going forward ♪ ♪ One day we're going to be free ♪ ♪ Oh, we're marching on... Come on!
(with congregation): ♪ To freedom land ♪ We're marching on to freedom land ♪ ♪ Thus our strength from day to day ♪ ♪ As we walk the narrow way ♪ We're going forward ♪ We're going forward ♪ One day we're going to be free.
♪ REPORTER: Do you have any feelings about this march?
No, I'm glad to get rid of the ones that are leaving.
But I wish they'd come back and get the rest of them.
Darling, how are you doing?
Why are you marching?
So we can be free and justice.
And so other people can be free and so the troopers can't hit no one.
(adults chuckle) KING: All right, all right.
I'm from Kansas City, Missouri, and I've answered a call for the interracial council there in Kansas City to join the march here.
These ideals that have been expressed here by all the people have been mine for a long time.
I've had an opportunity to do something about it now.
Well, I'm from Hollywood, California.
I'm an actor, and I just decided, "I've got to come.
I've got to see what it's all about."
and I feel very deeply about the situation, and for the first time I realize what the Negro position is, because here I am, called a "white nigger."
MAN: ♪ Pick 'em up and lay 'em down ♪ CHOIR: ♪ Right, right ♪ ♪ Pick 'em up and lay 'em down ♪ ♪ Right, right ♪ ♪ Pick 'em up and lay 'em down... ♪ NARRATOR: The Alabama National Guard, under federal direction, kept the hecklers at a distance and checked for bombs.
11 miles outside Selma, the marchers left Dallas County and came into neighboring Lowndes County.
♪ Right, right ♪ ♪ I got blisters on my feet ♪ Right, right... ♪ NARRATOR: While in Lowndes County, some S.N.C.C.
members seized the opportunity to do some organizing of their own.
♪ Make me want to skip a beat ♪ ♪ Right, right... ♪ We were against the march.
I, too, was against it.
But again, I said it was a fait accompli.
We couldn't stop it, King was going to have it, and there was no way to stop it, so what we had to do now is make a positive out of a negative.
What I did was, when it entered Lowndes County, I would seek out all the people from Lowndes County who came to the march.
I would get them, write down their names, record it, their addresses, and tell them, "Listen, we're going to stay in Lowndes County, we're not just going to pass through."
And they'd be excited to hear that.
So the Black Panther party was built off of the mobilization that King sprout out inside of Lowndes County.
And he did us a perfect job.
MAN: ♪ Did the rain come down?
♪ Right, right ♪ ♪ Lord, I thought I would drown ♪ ♪ Right, right ♪ ♪ Oh, the mud sure was deep... NARRATOR: As they approached Montgomery, S.C.L.C.
heard of a plot against Martin Luther King's life, but King refused to leave the march.
♪ Right, right ♪ ♪ That's why we're movin' in a creep ♪ ♪ Right, right ♪ Martin always wore the good preacher blue suit and I...
I figured since we couldn't stop him from marching, we just had to kind of believe that it was true when white folks said we all look alike.
So everybody that was about Martin's size and had on a blue suit I put in the front of the line with him.
And we all just lined up.
But there were some very important people who felt as though they were being pushed back.
But all of the preachers loved the chance to get up front in the front line with Martin Luther King, but I don't think to this day most of them know why they were up there.
CHOIR: ♪ We're marching on to freedom land... ♪ NARRATOR: 54 miles and five days marching.
They were now 25,000 strong.
♪ As we travel the narrow way... ♪ LEWIS: To me, there was never a march like this one before and there hasn't been one since.
It was a sense of community moving there and as you walked, you saw people coming, waving, bringing you food or bringing you something to drink.
You saw the power of the most powerful country on the face of the earth.
NARRATOR: In the euphoria of the moment, no one could know the traditional civil rights movement would never again be the same.
The fragile coalition that had shaped the movement for so long was coming to an end.
CORETTA SCOTT KING: It was a great moment to go back to Montgomery, because, you see, for us it was returning to Montgomery after ten years.
And I kept thinking about ten years earlier-- how we were visibly just blacks, and when you looked at that march, you had Catholic priests and nuns and you had other clergy and you had a lot of white people.
It was really a beautiful thing to pass Dexter Avenue and go toward the capitol, marching together and listening to Martin's speech.
MARTIN LUTHER KING: We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience, and that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man, that will be the day of man as man.
However difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth crushed to earth will rise again.
Because no lie can live forever.
Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
Because mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.
He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword.
His truth is marching on.
His truth is marching on.
(applause and cheers) NARRATOR: That night, Viola Liuzzo, a white housewife from Michigan, was murdered by Klansmen as she transported marchers back to Selma.
President Johnson signed the voting rights bill into law on August 6, 1965.
By the following summer, 9,000 blacks registered to vote in Dallas County.
August 11, five days after the voting rights bill was signed, the Watts area of Los Angeles, California, exploded in racial violence.
exploded in racial violence.
More than 1,000 people were injured; 34 died.
It signaled a new direction for the movement, the next phase of America's civil rights years.
CHOIR: ♪ Oh, freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Oh freedom ANNOUNCER: To order Eyes on the Prize season 1 on DVD, visit ShopPBS or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
This program is also available on Amazon Prime Video.
(singing continues) ♪ Freedom ♪ Oh, freedom ♪ Freedom