Until 1965, counties in Alabama used preventive measures in order to prevent African Americans from registering to vote. Because of this, only 2% percent of the African-American population of Dallas County at that time was able to vote and 0% in Lowndes County.
However, civil rights activists began to protest in Selma in order to bring attention to this injustice. These protests were often met by violence from the local sheriff's department, leaving many wondering what was going to happen next.
On the evening of February 18, 1965 during a protest to free SCLC supporter Rev. James Orange from the Perry County Jail, located in Marion, AL, Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot in the abdomen. Jackson died from his wounds on February 26.
On March 7, 1965 approximately 600 non-violent protestors, the vast majority being African-American, departed from Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma with the intent on marching 54-miles to Montgomery, as a memorial to Jimmy Lee Jackson and to protest for voter's rights.
As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, they were met by a column of State Troopers and local volunteer officers of the local sheriff's department who blocked their path.