Protests and Marches

By:Maia Sambuco

In order to gain the rights of African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, many participated in symbolic protests that varied from silent and peaceful boycotts, to mass marches that ended in violence. Some of these protests included:

Woolworth's Sit-In

On February 1st, 1960, four African American males, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Bill Smith, and Clarence Henderson sat at a "white-only" lunch counter at a local restaurant. These North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College students sparked the non-violent protest against segregation by contacting a news reporter and going to lunch at Woolworths Lunch Counter and kindly requesting service. The students were denied service and asked to leave. The following day, twenty-nine more students sat at the same lunch counter, encouraging both white and African American races to join the peaceful protest. Eventually, 1400 students arrived at the protest and those who did not have seats formed picket lines outside the restaurant. Forty-one African-American students were arrested, but eventually both races joined one another and began to sit and eat together.

Selma to Montegomery Church

On March 7th, 1965, also known as "Bloody Sunday," nearly six hundred civil rights marchers began walking from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery. Only six blocks away at the Pettus Bridge, they were stopped by state troopers and local police men, who attacked them with tear gas and clubs, when the crowd of marchers refused to disperse. Two days later on March 9th, Marti Luther King Jr., led a symbolic march to the Pettus Bridge, while civil rights leaders, sought court protection for a third, full scale march from Selma to Montgomery. On March 21st, about 3200 people walked twelve miles a day to Montgomery. During their march, the number of people rose to nearly 25000 people. Five months after this peaceful protest, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

March on Washington

In August of 1963, nearly 200,000 people marched to Washington D.C., demonstrating civil rights and the promotion of desegregation in the United States. This rally was meant to pressure congress to call for national desegregation in schools and to demand a higher minimum wage. Ten famous civil rights leaders lead this march, including Martin Luther King Jr., Phillip Randolph, and Roy Wilkins. They led their followers to the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous, "I Had a Dream" speech.
Selma 1965 - Edmund Pettus Bridge