A group of Selma's black citizens marches to the courthouse to try to register. They aren't allowed inside. When their organizers bring them sandwiches and water, the workers are hit with billy clubs. That just makes people more determined. More than a hundred black teachers decide to march. That is the turning point, says the Reverend Frederick Reese. "The undertakers got a group, and they marched," he said. "The beauticians got a group; they marched. Everybody marched after the teachers marched."
Martin Luther King, Jr., stands with 250 citizens who want to register to vote. They are thrown in jail. When they hear of Dr. King's arrest, 500 school kids march to the courthouse. They are arrested. Two days later 300 more are arrested. TV news pictures it all. King writes a letter from jail. "This is Selma, Alabama," he says. "There are more Negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls."
In Selma, marchers, even reporters covering the marches, are being roughed up and beaten. Where can they go for protection? Not to the police. It's the police, the state troopers, and the sheriff who are doing most of the beating. When eighty-two year old Cager Lee marches, a state trooper whips him until he is bloody. Jimmy Lee Jackson, Cager's grandson, carries his grandfather into a café. But the troopers storm right into the café. One trooper hits Jimmy's mother; another shoots Jimmy in the stomach. He dies seven days later. There is no stopping the civil rights workers now. The murder is too much for many white citizens. Seventy of them march in sympathy to the courthouse. A clergyman becomes their spokesman. He says: "We consider it a shocking injustice that there are still counties in Alabama where there are no Negroes registered to vote. We are horrified at the brutal way in which the police have attempted to break up peaceful assemblies and demonstrations by American citizens."