Bloody Sunday, Revisited - NYTimes.com: March 7, 1965, became known as Bloody Sunday in the annals of the civil rights struggle in America. That day, around 500 people set out to march the 54 miles from Selma, Ala., to the state capital in Montgomery in support of what would become the Voting Rights Act.
The voting rights movement was transformed into a national cause when the marchers were stopped on the Edmund Pettus Bridge as they left Selma. A state trooper told them they were “an unlawful assembly” and ordered them to disperse. When they did not, they were attacked by about 150 troopers and others who wielded billy clubs and tear gas. Fifty-eight people were treated for injuries at a local hospital, including Representative John Lewis, then 25 and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, for a skull fracture.
Two weeks later, after a federal judge ruled they had a constitutional right to march, the group set out again, under National Guard protection. It was 25,000 strong by the time the march ended on March 25 in Montgomery. That summer, the Voting Rights Act became law.