The physical distance from Alabama state capital, Montgomery, to the town of Selma is 54 miles. During 1965, protesters against racial segregation walked that route three times over.
In total, around 2,000 people walked those 54 miles, and some 50,000 others joined them in protest.
The previous year, the Civil Rights Act had brought an end to legal segregation. But in Alabama and elsewhere, the Act made virtually no impact on the treatment of black people.
By 1965, of the 15,000 black voters who were eligible to vote in Selma, only 300 were registered. The Dallas County Voters League had launched a campaign for voter registration in 1963, and asked Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to join it and lead a march.
The first march, in February, followed the fatal shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a black church deacon, by a state trooper. On the march, more state troopers came down heavily on people walking the route, using clubs and tear gas.
A second march followed two days later, on March 9th, but more violence followed when white supporters of segregation attacked and killed a minister—a white man.
The third march, backed in a television broadcast by President Johnson, took place on March 21st. Almost 2,000 national troops were deployed to protect the marchers, who took four days to travel the distance.
One of the direct results was The Voting Rights Act, passed by Congress in August 1965, making it illegal to prevent any voter registration.
All elements of society were represented on the Selma marches, black and white, men and women, and—as these pictures show—children.
Their impact continues to be felt, across the nation and across the generations.