The Selma to Montgomery marches, also known as Bloody Sunday and the two marches that followed, were marches and protests held in 1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. All three were attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery where the Alabama capitol is located. The marches grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). In 1963, the DCVL and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began voter-registration work. When white resistance to black voter registration proved intractable, the DCVL requested the assistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to support voting rights.
The first march took place on March 7, 1965 — "Bloody Sunday" — when 600 marchers, protesting the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and ongoing exclusion from the electoral process, were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. The second march took place March 9; police forced 2,500 protesters to turn around after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
The third march started March 16. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the "Jefferson Davis Highway". The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25.