March 7, 1965, [the first march] failed as state troopers beat back marchers as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
With the protection of a federal court order, about 3,200 people set out from Selma on March 21. The march ended March 25 at the steps of the state Capitol. The number of marchers swelled as they neared the Capitol.
President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 less than six months later.
This was, of course, one of the final series of events that turned a majority of Americans to an understanding that America had to change to fulfill its promise, to live up to its own ideals. Today, the idea that anyone thought they could get away with that kind of brutality only 40 years ago seems absurd.