Participants in three civil rights marches a half century ago are being recognized with Congressional Gold Medals, the highest honor awarded by Congress.
President Barack Obama signed legislation awarding the medals into law Saturday as he flew to Selma, Alabama, for commemorations of the Black Sunday protest march of March 7, 1965.
On that day, many in a crowd of 600 were beaten bloody by state troopers as they tried to cross Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge on their intended march to Montgomery, Alabama.
Shocking scenes of the brutality helped to galvanize the nation against racial oppression in the South and hasten passage of the Voting Rights Act that year.
Two more demonstrations followed in Selma. In the last one, the demonstrators completed their march to Montgomery.