Supporting Selma and Voting Rights

In early 1965, Selma, Alabama, became the focus of activists’ efforts to register black voters in the South. On March 7, 1965, civil rights workers attempting to march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery were severely beaten by state and local police as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge. This event came to be known as “Bloody Sunday” and television coverage of the violence sparked national outrage.

When Martin Luther King Jr. and Selma activists made plans to retry the march again two days later, a restraining order was issued prohibiting the march until at least 11 March, and President Johnson pressured King to call off the march until a federal court order could provide protection to the marchers.

On March 25, 1965, under the protection of the National Guard, Martin Luther King Jr. led protestors on the 54-mile journey from Selma to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama.The historic march, and King’s participation in it, greatly helped raise awareness of the difficulty faced by black voters in the South, and the need for a Voting Rights Act, which was passed later that year.

On the weekend of March 7-8, 2015, tens of thousands converged on tiny Selma, Alabama, for events commemorating the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday.” Among the thousands in attendance were a number of United Methodists — some of whom had traveled to Selma for the original marches while they were seminary students — and retired United Methodist bishop, Woodie White, who takes his own seminary students to Selma every year on a civil rights pilgrimage.

 

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Church History
Mike Hickcox is the former director of communications for the Society of St. Andrew and also served as manager of audio initiatives for United Methodist Communications and was director of communications for the New England Conference of The United Methodist Church. Photo by United Methodist Communications.

Share your audio to help preserve United Methodist history

A wealth of church history is contained in audio files in local churches, seminaries and annual conferences. We must act now to save those treasures.
Mission and Ministry
Artist interpretation of the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793. As the virus sickened thousands, a U.S. founding father turned to two Methodists for help. Print from Bettmann Archives.

Methodists led response in earlier epidemic

When yellow fever sickened thousands in 18th century Philadelphia, a U.S. founding father turned to two pioneering African American church leaders for help.
Mission and Ministry
L. Dale Patterson, archivist-records administrator at the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, examines film, one of thousands of carefully filed items at the agency housed on the campus of Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. A 2013 file photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News.

Taking church archives from hi-fi to Wi-Fi

Dale Patterson looks backward and forward as he contemplates retirement from the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History.