Preloading

How Police Treated Civil Rights Protesters After an Intervention From Washington, D.C.

Booker T. Booker, 78
Location: Selma, AL
Interview facilitated by Zannetta Booker & Zandra Nash

It was a scary time for civil rights marchers, says teacher and Selma, Alabama, resident Booker T. Booker. In 1965, as protesters started marching from Selma to the state Capitol in Montgomery, they were cut off at the Edmund Pettus Bridge by state and local police, many of whom were on horseback. The confrontation quickly turned to violence, as police shot teargas into the crowd and trampled some of the protesters. The clash, which earned the name "Bloody Sunday," was televised across the nation and caught the attention of Washington, D.C.

One week later, President Lyndon B. Johnson called on Congress to pass voting rights legislation. This, Booker says, was the turning point. Overnight, police went from being enemies of the protests to their protectors, as the group, under the leadership of Martin Luther King Jr., began their third and final march to the capital.

"It was a joyous occasion," Booker says. "You don't understand how we felt to go through that same area where we were protected by the highway patrolmen, by the city police, that which prohibit us to going across there the first time, now they were protecting us."

Watch as Booker shares how that experience changed our world forever.

Hear more stories from people who were at the ground level of the civil rights marches
Published 01/19/2015
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