Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

These Harrowing Pictures Capture The Reality Of "Bloody Sunday" In 1965

"There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going.” —Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted on March 7, 2019, at 4:28 p.m. ET

Young men link arms during the march led by Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery, March 1965.
William Lovelace / Getty Images

Young men link arms during the march led by Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery, March 1965.

In March 1965, the Selma to Montgomery march became a watershed moment for the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination illegal based on race, the Selma to Montgomery march was organized to help register black voters in the South and to protest against racially motivated violence.

On March 7, 1965, what became known as "Bloody Sunday," Martin Luther King Jr. along with over 600 marchers were stopped in their tracks by a small army of Alabama police officers. Law enforcement officers on horseback, armed with tear gas and batons, brutally attacked the demonstrators to drive them back to Selma. Two days later, the march continued, and by March 25, the group, now 25,000 strong, had successfully arrived in Montgomery. Five months later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made illegal voter discrimination on the basis of race.

These pictures capture the obstacles, heartbreak, and triumph of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march.

Police cars, some with license plates depicting the Confederate flag, line a street in Selma, March 9, 1965.
Flip Schulke Archives / Getty Images

Police cars, some with license plates depicting the Confederate flag, line a street in Selma, March 9, 1965.

State troopers watch as marchers cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma, March 9.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

State troopers watch as marchers cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River in Selma, March 9.

Police officers, some with the Confederate flag on their helmets, block the march in Selma.
Flip Schulke Archives / Getty Images

Police officers, some with the Confederate flag on their helmets, block the march in Selma.

Marchers reach a police roadblock in Selma.
Frank Dandridge

Marchers reach a police roadblock in Selma.

Alabama state troopers look on as marchers kneel in prayer after their march was halted by police.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Alabama state troopers look on as marchers kneel in prayer after their march was halted by police.

Martin Luther King Jr. and activists pray after being stopped by a police roadblock.
Frank Dandridge / Getty Images

Martin Luther King Jr. and activists pray after being stopped by a police roadblock.

Police officers use excessive force to crush the march in Selma.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Police officers use excessive force to crush the march in Selma.

A civil rights marcher who was exposed to tear gas holds an unconscious Amelia Boynton Robinson after police officers attacked marchers in Selma.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

A civil rights marcher who was exposed to tear gas holds an unconscious Amelia Boynton Robinson after police officers attacked marchers in Selma.

Police officers force injured civil rights marchers to leave the area after their march was crushed by law enforcement personnel in Selma.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Police officers force injured civil rights marchers to leave the area after their march was crushed by law enforcement personnel in Selma.

An officer accosts an unconscious Amelia Boynton Robinson as mounted police officers attack civil rights marchers in Selma.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

An officer accosts an unconscious Amelia Boynton Robinson as mounted police officers attack civil rights marchers in Selma.

Martin Luther King Jr. watches as President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses the events that unfolded in Selma, March 15, 1965.
Frank Dandridge / Getty Images

Martin Luther King Jr. watches as President Lyndon B. Johnson addresses the events that unfolded in Selma, March 15, 1965.

James Reeb, 38, a Boston minister, is left unconscious at the Birmingham hospital after he was critically beaten by five white men following his participation in the Selma to Montgomery march, March 9, 1965.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

James Reeb, 38, a Boston minister, is left unconscious at the Birmingham hospital after he was critically beaten by five white men following his participation in the Selma to Montgomery march, March 9, 1965.

The smashed window and bloodstained door of the car in which Viola Liuzzo, a civil rights worker from Detroit, was shot to death on March 25, 1965. Liuzzo was killed just hours after she participated in the climax of the Selma to Montgomery march.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

The smashed window and bloodstained door of the car in which Viola Liuzzo, a civil rights worker from Detroit, was shot to death on March 25, 1965. Liuzzo was killed just hours after she participated in the climax of the Selma to Montgomery march.

Patrol officer John Krok displays the burned cross that was found in front of the home of Anthony Liuzzo, the husband of killed civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, who was shot to death near Selma.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Patrol officer John Krok displays the burned cross that was found in front of the home of Anthony Liuzzo, the husband of killed civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo, who was shot to death near Selma.

A woman burns a Confederate flag to a crowd's cheers during a protest outside the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, March 10, 1965.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

A woman burns a Confederate flag to a crowd's cheers during a protest outside the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, March 10, 1965.

Marchers walk past a young white man holding a Confederate flag, March 21, 1965.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Marchers walk past a young white man holding a Confederate flag, March 21, 1965.

A billboard claiming to identify Martin Luther King Jr. at a communist training school is displayed on the route from Selma to Montgomery, March 25, 1965. This is actually a picture of King at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, in the 1940s.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

A billboard claiming to identify Martin Luther King Jr. at a communist training school is displayed on the route from Selma to Montgomery, March 25, 1965. This is actually a picture of King at the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee, in the 1940s.

A man carries a girl on his shoulders during the march in this undated picture, 1965.
Ann Purcell / Getty Images

A man carries a girl on his shoulders during the march in this undated picture, 1965.

Two young boys stand in the street with other onlookers to witness the marchers go by, March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stephen F. Somerstein / Getty Images

Two young boys stand in the street with other onlookers to witness the marchers go by, March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.

A group of family and friends watch civil rights marchers, March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stephen F. Somerstein / Getty Images

A group of family and friends watch civil rights marchers, March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Marchers carry a US flag upside down, March 21, 1965.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Marchers carry a US flag upside down, March 21, 1965.

People watching as marchers pass, March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stephen F. Somerstein / Getty Images

People watching as marchers pass, March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Church elders and children from the Mt. Zion AME Church watch marchers pass on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stephen F. Somerstein / Getty Images

Church elders and children from the Mt. Zion AME Church watch marchers pass on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Marchers arrive at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery after a 50-mile march from Selma, March 25, 1965.
Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Marchers arrive at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery after a 50-mile march from Selma, March 25, 1965.

King speaks to 25,000 marchers at the conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery march on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.
Stephen F. Somerstein / Getty Images

King speaks to 25,000 marchers at the conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery march on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama.


ADVERTISEMENT