This Day in Black History: March 7, 1965

Civil rights protesters attempt to march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery.

Posted: 03/07/2012 07:00 AM EST
Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, voting rights, This Day in Black History, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Diana Ross, Africa, Alabama, civil rights, Michael Jackson, National News, Martin Luther King Jr.

On this day in 1965, an estimated 600 voting rights activists began a 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capitol of Montgomery in protest of the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was fatally shot three weeks prior by a state trooper while trying to protect his mother at a civil rights demonstration. After the group reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they were met by a hostile front of state troopers and deputies armed with tear gas and billy clubs. The event would come to be known as “Bloody Sunday.” Civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would help organize subsequent marches to the state capital. Finally, after two failed attempts, an estimated 25,000 protesters under the protection of a U.S. National Guard convoy arrived peacefully in Montgomery on March 25, 1965. The Selma marches gave way to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which guaranteed every American the right to register to vote.

Additionally, the “We Are the World” single was released on this day in 1985. Dozens of stars lent their voices to the recording, including Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. It would sell more than 20 million copies and raise over $63 million for humanitarian aid in Africa and the U.S.

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(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

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