Testimony of John Lewis
A peaceful civil rights march in Selma, Ala., soon turned bloody when 150 Alabama state troopers stopped the 600 marchers trying cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. The police forces gave the demonstrators two minutes to disperse, but 65 seconds later, the patrol advancedclubs, bullwhips, and tear gas in hand.
John Lewis, Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was a leader of the march and one of the first to endure a brutal beating at the hands of the state troopers, suffering a skull fracture after being hit twice with a billy club. In his testimony given less than a week after the incident, he recounts the lack of physical retaliation on the part of the marchers, maintaining their non-violent front even in the face of extreme and unprovoked brutality.
Four days after Judge Frank Johnson Jr. ruled that the demonstrators had the constitutional right to march, a Federalized National Guard accompanied 3200 marchers who set out from Selma to Montgomery in another mass demonstration.