Malik Notes

The Selma Voting Rights Struggle: 15 Key Points from Bottom-Up History and Why It Matters Today

-By Emilye Crosby

  1. The Selma voting rights campaign started long before the modern Civil Rights Movement.
  2. The Selma voting rights campaign started long before the modern Civil Rights Movement.
  3. Selma was one of the communities where the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began organizing in the early 1960s.
  4. The white power structure used economic, “legal,” and extra-legal means, including violence, to prevent African Americans from accessing their constitutional right to vote.
  5. White terrorism created a climate of fear that impeded organizing efforts.
  6. Though civil rights activists typically used nonviolent tactics in public demonstrations, at home and in their own communities they consistently used weapons to defend themselves. Local, state, and federal institutions conspired and were complicit in preventing black voting.
  7. SNCC developed creative tactics to highlight Black demand for the vote and the raw violence at the heart of Jim Crow.
  8. SNCC’s grassroots organizing around voter registration educated Justice Department attorneys about the need for additional voting rights legislation.
  9. Selma activists invited Dr. King to join an active movement with a long history.
  10. Youth and teachers played a significant role in the Selma Movement.
  11. Women were central to the movement, but they were sometimes pushed to the side and today their contributions are often overlooked.
  12. The Selma march was triggered by official white terrorism.
  13. Although the mass violence of Bloody Sunday generated national outrage, the majority of whites still did not understand how deeply embedded racism is in our country’s institutions.
  14. Though President Lyndon Johnson is typically credited with passage of the Voting Rights Act, the movement forced the issue and made it happen.
  15. The Voting Rights Act was not an end to the movement.

© Teaching for Change 2015


The full article illustrating how to teach the 15 Key Points aforementioned can be found on the following website:

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