Rep. John Lewis, who as a young civil rights leader was clubbed by police during a milestone 1965 demonstration, won House approval Tuesday of a bill designating the march route from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., a national historic trail.
“The march … was a turning point in the journey to the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” Lewis, D-Ga., reminded the House. “History along this route is precious.”
The measure was passed by voice vote after Lewis urged “recognition to the men and women who sacrificed so much for voting rights in America.” It now goes to the Senate.
On March 7, 1965, which since has been known as Bloody Sunday, Lewis and the Rev. Hosea Williams tried to lead a peaceful demonstration along the route over the opposition of then-Gov. George C. Wallace.
The marchers were met on Edmund Pettus Bridge by a sheriff’s posse and state troopers and were stopped by tear gas, nightsticks and bullwhips. Two weeks later, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., church leaders and others from across the nation converged on Selma to complete the 54-mile march under protection.