I accept this honor for our lost ones, whose deaths pave our path.
And for the 20 million Negro men and women motivated by dignity and a disdain for hopelessness.
This isn't right.
This ain't right.
This necktie. It's not right.
Well, it's not a necktie, dear. It's an ascot.
Yes, but generally the same principles should apply, shouldn't they?
It's not right.
It's not right, or you don't like it?
I don't like how this looks.
Looks distinguished and debonair to me.
You know what I mean.
Like we're living high on the hog.
Dressed like this while folks back home are...
It's not right.
Wait till the brothers back home see me like this.
They'll have a good laugh.
Let them laugh.
It's not a crime to be away for a few days, Martin.
It's nice being away, huh?
Yeah. It really is.
I'm gonna be a pastor somewhere small.
Lead a little church. Teach a class.
Maybe the occasional speaking engagement.
And I'll pay all the bills for us, especially the mortgage for our very own house.
You look handsome.
Through it all, Martin Luther King has spoken of his dream.
One which we and many other people around the world share.
To this undeterred hero forjustice, the Nobel Committee of Oslo, Norway, awards our 1964 Peace Prize.
I accept this honor for our lost ones, whose deaths pave our path.
I accept this honor for the more than 20 million American Negroes who are motivated by dignity.
Together we believe that what the illusion of supremacy has destroyed, the truth of equality can nourish.
I promise you. It ain't nothing to be scared of.
It's quick. And the pastor is right there next to you.
Yeah, but the biggest thing is getting your hair wet up.
I got my hair pressed that same morning and it was wasted as soon as I hit the water.
I should have worn a swim cap like Mama said.
See, I asked my mama could she make my hair like Coretta Scott King had hers at the Washington March.
But she said that was too grown.
Oh, I love her hair.
I heard she don't even put rollers in it. It's just like that.
But I studied it. I know how she do it.
See, she parts in the middle and then...
Annie Lee Cooper!
Get on up now. I ain't got all day.
You work for Mr. Dunn down at the rest home, ain't that right?
Wonder what old Dunn'll say when I tell him one of his gals is down here stirring a fuss.
I ain't stirring no fuss. I'm just here trying to register to vote.
It's all right this time.
It's right when I say it's right.
Recite the Constitution's preamble. Know what a preamble is?
"We the people of the United States, "in order to form a more perfect union, "establish justice, "ensure domestic tranquility, "provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare..."
How many county judges in Alabama?
Aren't we done? Are we not done with this?
Will this ever end? -I don't know, Mr. President.
A comprehensive plan is already in place.
The act was only passed six months ago.
So hammer home that impatience only hurts the overall cause.
We're... We're getting there. Just... Just keep reiterating the plan.
No, he doesn't want reiteration.
He wants something so he can say, "Look, I told you I had a dream
"and it's all coming goddamn true, whether you like it or not!"
That's what he wants.
What he needs to do is get on board with what we're doing instead of the other way around. For once!
Mr. President, Dr. King.
Well, I'll tell you. I'm a tall son-of-a-bitch, but this close to the new Nobel laureate and with all those other trinkets you've been collecting lately, I feel tits-high to a puppy dog.
Well, thank you, Mr. President.
Dr. King. -All right.
I'll tell you, ending segregation, proudest moment of my life when I signed that '64 Act.
Proudest moment of my life, I tell you.
Now civil rights is a priority
-of this administration as you know. -Thank you.
We're gonna face the challenge, or this country is storing up a heap of trouble for itself.
Now, seeing as I can't convince you to work with my administration in an official capacity inside the White House, I feel damn fortunate to have someone as statesmanlike as you leading the movement.
And I want you to go on leading it. No one else.
Not one of these militant Malcolm X types.
So... I wanna help. Tell me how.
Well, Mr. President, I'm here to speak specifically about the denial of a basic American right for the Negro citizen.
The right to vote.
Technically, we already have it. Yes, Mr. President.
But, we both know in the South black voters are kept off the rolls and out of the voting booths by systematic intimidation and fear, Mr. President.
Now, you asked how you can help.
We want Federal legislation granting Negroes the right to vote unencumbered.
And we want Federal protocol eliminating the decades-long dismissal and illegal denial of blacks seeking to vote.
And we want robust enforcement of that protocol.
Well... That's fine.
But... Most of the South is still not desegregating.
Let's not start another battle when we haven't even won the first.
And you know what the next battle should be?
The eradication of poverty.
I'm calling it "The War on Poverty."
It's a matter of political priorities.
Poverty is going to be my focus at home and I want you to help me with this.
We can make big changes in these things for people of all colors.
And I know that matters to you, doesn't it?
This voting thing is just gonna have to wait.
It... it can't wait, Mr. President.
Well, why not?
Because there have been thousands of racially motivated murders in the South, including those four girls.
Well, I know that...
And you know the astounding fact that not one of these criminals who murder us when and why they want has ever been convicted.
Yeah, I know we have a lot of work to do down there.
Not one conviction because they are protected by white officials chosen by an all-white electorate.
And on the rare occasions that they face trial, they are freed by all-white juries.
All-white because you can't serve on a jury unless you are registered to vote.
Well, Dr. King, you've certainly given me something to think about.
But this administration is going to set this aside for a while.
Just for a while, you understand.
Yes, Mr. President, I... I understand.
Selma it is.
Big speech lined up for these folks tonight, Doc?
We need to see what's what first, Big Fellow.
We're just here to test the waters.
Oh, my Lord. What you got us into, woman?
We've got 128 miles to come to our senses, gentlemen.
This here is the place we need to be.
This right here is the next great battle.
I can only imagine.
Decent-looking place to die though.
Doc? This here is it. Selma's the place.
A lot of groundwork has already been laid by the people here.
And they ready.
Sister Boynton. -Mr. Orange.
May I introduce myself?
Yeah, of course.
It's okay. It's okay. I'm okay.
This way, Dr. King.
That white boy can hit.
This place is perfect.
What's the FBl's current information on Martin Luther King?
I heard he was assaulted in Selma.
My information can be summed up in a few words.
King is a political and moral degenerate.
Well, you say that, J. Edgar. I have to take it seriously.
But if he's a degenerate, what I do know is, he's a non-violent degenerate.
And I want him to go on leading the civil rights movement, not one of these bloodthirsty militants.
What I need to know right now is what's he about to do next?
Mr. President, you know we can shut men with power down permanently and unequivocally.
I'm very aware of that, Mr. Director.
Well, if you prefer a different approach, we can go with the wife.
We know there's tension in the home already.
We can weaken the dynamic.
Dismantle the family.
You ain't got long.
When the hearts of those Pickaninnies of yours stop beating...
When are you all heading out?
We're heading back to Selma at 5:00 a.m.
It turned out to be an ideal staging ground.
There's a full couple of weeks planned.
Quite a bit to be done.
That highway is nice now. Get you there in a couple of hours.
Good people in those parts though.
I'm worried about the ones who ain't so good.
This local Sheriff Jim Clark is supposed to be bad business.
Won't go down without a fight, they say.
And since we don't fight...
As good a place to die as any, I guess.
I wish you wouldn't talk like that.
It just takes the edge off.
You and your friends can joke about that.
I don't joke about that.
You're right. I'm sorry.
I'll put these things away in your bag now.
I didn't realize you were leaving so early.
I need to hear the Lord's voice.
Surely, Martin. Surely.
Precious Lord Take my hand Lead me home Let me stand I am tired I am weak I am worn
Through the storm Through the night
Lord, lead me on To the light
Sully. -Look at you.
Morning, Doctor. -Good morning, Doctor.
Drive all right? -Good and long.
Good news is Richie Jean is in there.
Oh, she's ready for you.
Negro, that's all you had to say.
There she is! There's our girl!
Hey, Richie Jean!
Looking like her mom. -You go play.
Hey! -Hey, Ralphy.
How you doing? -Hey!
Good to see you, sweetheart.
Hey, come over here.
Oh, Lord, it's good to see this!
Okay, now, I've got the grits on the stove.
How many we expecting today?
Well, now, Sister Jackson.
You know about our group, the SCLC, right?
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference?
A few of our top SCLC leaders are with us this time since we're going to be here a little longer than expected.
Now, this here's Reverend C.T. Vivian.
He coordinates all the SCLC branches.
Welcome. Nice to meet you. Welcome, welcome.
This is Reverend James Bevel.
How you doing, ma'am? -I'm well. Thank you.
This here is James Orange.
Oh, this is a big one.
I don't know if I've got enough to feed you.
Well, let's find out. How about that?
Now, you got two of them named James.
Oh, you can call me Jim, Sister.
And Orange is fine with me, ma'am.
Or Big Fellow!
All right. Well, this is fine with me.
Mrs. Jackson. Hosea Williams.
Oh, yeah, that's a long story.
Those grits, they need some stirring. Mind?
You put your foot in it now.
Ain't you supposed to be on a diet?
Somebody call Juanita.
There's a phone! -Hey, get off that phone.
Don't do it, Doc. Don't do it...
Turning in, Doc. You okay?
Yes, sir. Good night to you.
I wanted to tell you that the students are in town.
The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
Okay. Our young friends at SNCC.
Good to know.
You the one told them to organize.
Took it to heart.
Don't be surprised if they don't give us grief tomorrow.
Town folk may be happy to see us. But SNCC?
They feel we're in their territory.
They're young and full of spirit.
Not a bad thing.
It'll sort out.
"Boycotting the buses in Montgomery.
"Segregation in Birmingham."
Boycotting the buses in Montgomery.
Segregation in Birmingham.
Now? Voting in Selma.
One struggle ends just to go right to the next and the next.
If you think of it that way, it's a hard road.
But I don't think of it that way.
I think of these efforts as one effort.
And that one effort is for our life.
Our life as a community. Our life as a nation.
For our lives.
We can do this.
We must do this!
We see children become victims of one of the most vicious crimes ever perpetrated against humanity within the walls of their own church!
They are sainted now.
They are the sainted ones in this quest for freedom.
And they speak to us still.
They say to us, to all of us, all colors and creeds, that we must do this.
They say to us that it is unacceptable for more than 50% of Selma to be Negro and yet less than 2% of Negroes here being able to vote and determine their own destiny as human beings.
They say to us that the local white leadership use their power to keep us away from the ballot box and keep us voiceless.
As long as I am unable to exercise my constitutional right to vote, I do not have command of my own life.
I cannot determine my own destiny for it is determined for me by people who would rather see me suffer than succeed.
Those that have gone before us say, "No more!"
No more! No more!
That means protest, that means march, that means disturb the peace, that means jail, that means risk! And that is hard!
We will not wait any longer.
Give us the vote!
That's right! No more!
We're not asking. We're demanding.
Give us the vote!
Give us the vote!
Dr. King. Roy Reed of The New York Times.
Yes. Hello to you. How are you?
I'm well, sir. Thank you for asking.
Dr. King, are you truly non-violent if you are provoking violence, sir?
We are here, using our very bodies in protest
-to say to those who deny us... -Dr. King. Dr. King.
...that we will no longer let them use their billy clubs in dark corners and halls of power.
We make them do it in the glaring light of day, Mr. Reed.
Is SNCC standing with us on this or not, gentlemen?
You want us to bring our people in, but you're not giving anything in return.
Now we are asking for some kind of commitment here.
Respectfully speaking, of course, we've been handling the voter registration in this town now for two years.
Well, you haven't gotten very far, have you?
Well, maybe not, Reverend. But we're still here.
This time next month, you won't be!
That's insanity! -Just like you left Albany.
Those people are pathetic down there now.
Like they daddy left home!
What we're trying to explain is that in Albany you all...
You know what I think? Maybe we should just leave Selma...
Now! Leave it to these two.
Come back in another two years and see how much further you got!
Sounds just fine to me. -That's enough.
Enough of this now.
I haven't the time for this. None of us got the time for this.
The way our organization works is straightforward.
We negotiate. We demonstrate. We resist.
And on our best days, our adversary helps the matter by making a mistake.
Now, we were in Albany for nine months and we made a lot of mistakes.
But their sheriff, Laurie Pritchett, he never made a mistake.
Kept his cool, kept arresting us in a humane way, carried people to the jail-wagons on stretchers.
Day in, day out.
There was no drama.
You mean there was no cameras.
Now I know, we all understand, that you young people believe in working in the community long-term.
Doing the good work to raise black consciousness.
It's good grassroots work.
I can't tell you how much we admire that.
But what we do is negotiate, demonstrate, resist.
And a big part of that is raising white consciousness.
And in particular the consciousness of whichever white man happens to be sitting in the Oval Office.
Right now, Johnson has other fish to fry and he'll ignore us if he can.
The only way to stop him doing that is by being on the front page of the national press every morning and by being on the TV news every night.
And that requires drama.
Answer me one question.
I've been told the sheriff in this town isn't like Laurie Pritchett in Albany.
He's a big ignorant bully like Bull Connor in Birmingham.
Well, you tell me. You know Selma.
You know Sheriff Jim Clark.
Is he Laurie Pritchett? Or is he Bull Connor?
He's Bull Connor.
But it gets better.
See, Clark doesn't control the streets like Connor did in Birmingham.
Clark's the County Sheriff, and all he controls in Selma is the County Courthouse.
So relatively speaking, we have clear avenues of approach to a defined battle zone.
In the courthouse sits the heart of the matter, the voter registration office.
Now this is an exceptional circumstance.
See, in Albany, there were no clearly defined battle zones.
The issue was segregation, and segregation was everywhere.
In Selma, we can concentrate our actions on one building.
A citadel, defended by fanatics.
The Selma Courthouse.
A perfect stage.
Y'all deliberately causing an obstruction!
You don't disperse, you're gonna be arrested.
I promise you!
Sheriff Clark, we're trying to gain access to the registration office.
Which is our legal right.
There's too many of you. And you know damn well there is!
Now, y'all just gonna have to wait at the rear!
No, Sheriff Clark.
We're going in the front and we're gonna wait right here.
Segregation is now illegal in this country, sir.
Get out, nigger.
Come on. -I'm trying.
Kneel down, Daddy.
Keep this sidewalk clear. Clear a path!
Get out of the way! Get out of the way!
Get the hell out of the way!
Keep the sidewalk clear!
I said keep it clear!
Okay. We about to sit him down. He can't sit.
Then he needs to learn.
He gonna sit. -Sit down, God damn it!
Hey, hey! Pa? Pa?
I just told you he can't sit.
What do we got here?
What's going on here, boy?
What we got here? What we got here?
Jimmie! Sit down! -No, Mama, I'm sick of this.
Jimmie! -Don't do it.
Do you have a problem, boy?
I'm sick of this! I just told you...
What'd you think, boy? What'd you think?
What the fuck are you thinking?
Get that nigger woman!
Kill that nigger bitch!
Get your hands off of me!
We will not tolerate a bunch of nigra agitators attempting to orchestrate a disturbance in this state.
Not as long as I'm governor.
Now, I stand here today in the cradle of the Confederacy to remind its people of our Founding Fathers' goals of duty.
Goals long since forgotten by progressives and liberals in favor of what they call a changing world.
They seek to make us one mongrel unit.
Instead of allowing each race to flourish from its separate racial station as has been the standard for generations now.
Good morning, Mr. President.
Their changing world is sickening the balance of the Southland.
I pledged to stand up for Alabama when I campaigned and the people elected me on that pledge, and that is exactly what I intend to do.
I'm tired, Ralphy.
Tiring of this.
Eyes on the prize, Martin.
Yeah, but what is the prize, friend?
We fight to have a seat at whatever table we want.
How does it help a black man to be able to eat at a lunch counter if he doesn't earn enough to buy the burger?
Or worse yet, can't even...
Can't even read the menu
'cause there was no Negro school where he's from.
What is that?
And what about in our minds?
Equality in the black psyche. Look at these men.
Beaten and broken down for generations.
Deciding to demand more?
What happens when a man stands up and says enough is enough?
Look at Medgar.
Murdered the man in his own driveway.
Kids and wife right there inside the house.
George and Herbert Lee, Lamar Smith.
A man stands up, only to be struck down.
And what happens to the people he led?
What are we doing, Ralphy?
We take it piece by piece.
Like we been doing.
We build the path as we can.
Rock by rock.
This cell is probably bugged.
It probably is.
They're gonna ruin me so they can ruin this movement.
"Look at the birds of the air,
"that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns, "and yet your Heavenly Father doth feed them.
"Are you not worth much more than they?
"And who of you by being worried
"can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6, verse 27.
What? Where did you hear that?
I overheard them talking about him coming in this evening.
I'm learning about this just like you. We didn't do this.
That Negro can't be talking about that
"by any means necessary" madness with these people.
They about to bust as it is.
He's on his way here, right?
So we gotta figure this out. Right and fast.
He ain't on his way. He here.
Are you all right?
I wish I had more time to prepare is all.
I want to do this kind of thing whenever possible.
But I don't get to do it enough to feel entirely comfortable.
I prefer to be prepared.
Yes, I understand that.
I admire you. I do.
Sometimes I wish I were more out there in the trenches.
You do more than you know, Mrs. King.
I'll tell you what I know to be true.
It helps me in times when I'm feeling unsure.
If you'd like.
Please do, Mrs. Boynton.
I know that we are descendants of a mighty people, who gave civilization to the world.
People who survived the hulls of slave ships across vast oceans.
People who innovate and create and love despite pressures and tortures unimaginable.
They are in our bloodstream.
Pumping our hearts every second.
They've prepared you.
You are already prepared.
Mrs. King, I mean no disrespect.
I come with great respect for your husband.
I have no army behind me anymore.
I have myself and the truth.
That is all I stand on today.
You've said disrespectful things in the past, Minister.
So you'll understand why there is some alarm here tonight.
I do. I understand that.
Your husband and I, we do not see exactly eye-to-eye on how to achieve progress for the black man.
And yes, I have been piercing in my critiques of non-violence.
But because we don't agree, Mrs. King, does not mean that I'm the enemy.
What do you intend to say to these people then, sir?
A lot of work has been done here, and I don't intend to see it undone tonight.
Let's just say, my eyes see in a new way.
But your local sheriff here? He doesn't know that.
So allow me to be the alternative to your husband.
The alternative that scares them so much they turn to Dr. King in refuge.
Let my being here, Mrs. King, represent the factions that will come if they don't give the good reverend what he's asking for and soon.
Do you know what he has said about us in the past, Coretta?
He called us "ignorant Negro preachers."
Called me a modern day Uncle Tom.
Said on national television that the white man pays me to keep Negroes defenseless.
The white man pays me!
How could you allow it?
It wasn't like that this time, Martin. I'm telling you...
He spoke with some of the words he's used before, but it wasn't aimed at you.
It had more to do with helping us.
Not that you need his help. I'm just telling you how it was.
This movement, our movement, has been the one that has moved the needle.
Our movement changes laws and day-to-day life for our people.
But what has he changed?
You don't sound like yourself. You sound tired.
And you sound enamored.
I didn't mean that.
I didn't mean that.
Rest tonight, Martin.
This is not what I want to hear.
How in Christ's sake does Malcolm X slip into my state, meet with the wife of the other one, and give an actual speech to these nigras who are already riled up enough?
I mean, how does that happen, Colonel Lingo?
Governor... ls every spook militant in existence gonna pay us a visit?
Do you know what this means?
Johnson is going to getjumpy.
King and X together is sending him through the cotton-pickin' stratosphere.
And pictures of nigras getting beat in the street
-doesn't help the matter. -Governor...
Now I can't make a move against that backwoods, white trash Sheriff Clark
'cause that'll be seen as I'm helping King.
But somebody got to get Jim Clark under control.
Election year is coming up and this black voting business won't abide.
I mean, what's not clear about that?
Look, George, I'm telling you, if the Lord Jesus and Elvis Presley come visiting and they said, "Jim, now, we need you to treat them niggers nice."
Jim Clark would beat the shit out of the pair of them, then throw them in jail.
Jesus H. Christ.
Jim's a good old boy, he's a friend of mine.
Jim Clark just ain't that scary.
Now he's playing into their hands.
If you want fear, you need dominance in Selma.
Hoover picked up some intel about a night march.
It's some locals outside of King's group. Unofficial, they called it.
Supposed to happen tomorrow night once King leaves jail.
Going to some bleeding heart fundraiser in California.
King's out of town.
And at night.
Find a reason to send us in there.
Let's scare some real sense into them black bastards.
Y'all move back.
Move back now. Get back.
Go back to your homes now.
Stop! Leave him be!
Mama, come on!
Mama, come on!
We gotta keep moving. Come on.
This way, this way.
Leave him alone.
It's all right.
It's gonna be all right. Okay?
Act like you're...
Act like you're reading your menu. Okay?
It's all right, Mama. It's gonna be cool.
It's okay, it's okay.
No, get off of him! Just get off of him!
Get Off of him! No!
No! Get off of him!
Stop it! No, no, no!
Jimmie. Jimmie. Jimmie.
There are no words to soothe you, Mr. Lee.
There are no words.
But I can tell you one thing for certain.
God was the first to cry.
He was the first to cry for your boy.
Yes. I believe that.
Is your daughter... ls Jimmie Lee's mother here, Mr. Lee?
No, she... She couldn't make it.
May I ask your age, sir?
Well, I... I got 82 years.
He born in '38.
He a Army man.
I mean, he was... Was an Army man.
In the Army a spell.
He say, "Pa, you gonna vote before you done."
That's what he said.
He tell me.
He was a good boy. -Yes.
I'm so sorry.
Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson?
Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson?
We know a state trooper acting under the orders of George Wallace pointed the gun and pulled the trigger.
But how many other fingers were on that trigger?
Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson?
Every white lawman who abuses the law to terrorize.
Every white politician who feeds on prejudice and hatred.
Every white preacher who preaches the Bible and stays silent before his white congregation.
Who murdered Jimmie Lee Jackson?
Every Negro man and woman who stands by without joining this fight as their brothers and sisters are humiliated, brutalized, and ripped from this earth!
When I heard President Kennedy had been shot and killed...
And when I heard just yesterday that Malcolm X, who stood in this very church just three weeks ago, had been shot and killed, I turned to my wife Coretta and said the same thing I often say when one of our leaders is struck down, "Our lives are not fully lived
"if we're not willing to die for those we love
"and for what we believe."
But today, Jimmie, we're doing the living and you've done the dying, dear brother.
We will not let your sacrifice pass in vain, dear brother.
We will not let it go!
We will finish what you were after!
We will get what you were denied!
We will vote and we will put these men out of office!
We will take their power!
We will win what you were slaughtered for!
We're going back to Washington.
We're going to demand to see the President.
And I'm gonna tell him that Jimmie was murdered by an administration that spends millions of dollars every day to sacrifice life in the name of liberty in Vietnam, yet lacks the moral will and the moral courage to defend the lives of its own people here in America!
We will not let it go!
And if he does not act, we will act. We will act!
We will do it for all of our lost ones.
All of those, like Jimmie Lee Jackson, who have gone too soon, taken by hate!
Let me hear the top-tier issues that have to be evident in the overall legislation we demand.
Let's break it down.
But let's root this discussion in what we know.
We know Johnson can't see the full picture.
So, let's paint it for him.
What are the specific hardships and humiliations we can address within the larger context of legislation?
Doc, we gotta start with banning these laws that if a Negro tries to register, I mean, actually musters up the courage to go in that courthouse, that their name and address is published in the paper.
It gives anybody who wants to do them any harm their exact location, and we know how the Klan is.
I hear that. But the poll taxes got to be our focus first.
'Cause black people are poor! Black people are poor down here.
Yep. -And they expected to pay for every year they weren't legally registered before they can register.
Now, what the hell is that? Who got that kind of money?
Come on now! Listen now!
The big issue is voting vouchers.
Is that the number one issue?
Now hold on. Let me finish.
'Cause everybody'll forget about this part.
But if you're Negro, the only way you can vote is if an approved registered voter vouches for you.
Right? So, let's say, you take some place like Lowndes County, where there are no Negroes who are registered and you've got to have someone who is registered to vouch for you.
What are you supposed to do?
Nobody you know, not a single black person for 100 miles is registered.
So how do you get the voucher, right?
To get you into the courthouse door to pay the poll tax to get your name published and get yourself dead.
We need a new plan!
I can't take him back to Washington and waltz into the White House with a list of empty demands.
Tactics, my friends!
We must break down this institution into the tangible tactics that it takes to dismantle it.
What's your next move?
A march from Selma to Montgomery to protest and amplify.
Well, I'll be damned.
This was always part of the plan, wasn't it?
Provoke some tragedy in little old Selma, then go big.
Get someone killed and march on the State Capitol!
Selma to Montgomery's gotta be 50 miles!
You march those people into rural Alabama unprotected, it's gonna be open season.
It's too damn far and too damn dangerous!
Then propose new legislation, sir.
I can't do that this year. I won't! I told you.
We need your involvement here, Mr. President.
We deserve your help as citizens of this country.
Citizens under attack.
Now, you listen to me. You listen to me.
You're an activist. I'm a politician.
You got one big issue. I got a hundred and one.
Now, you demanding more and putting me on the spot with this visit, that's okay.
That's your job. That's what you do.
But I am sick and tired of you demanding and telling me what I can and what I can't do.
If you want my support on this voting thing, I need some quid pro quo from you.
What do you want, Mr. President?
We have a line on some threats that are particularly troubling.
Well, what's new?
No, no. This is serious. Credible threats with detail.
This information, coming from the FBI, I assume?
The same high-level that's been tracking us like animals?
Bugging our homes and our hotel rooms.
Digging for things that simply are not there, Lee?
This all feels very convenient.
This is coming from Lowndes County, Alabama.
Between Selma and Montgomery.
I'm telling you, if he were my guy, I'd keep him off the frontlines.
Just for a while.
Not gonna happen, Lee.
Meet me halfway on this, Martin.
I can't, Mr. President.
Can't or won't?
I came here hoping to talk to you about people.
People are dying in the street for this.
It cannot wait, sir.
Mr. President, how did it go?
What can I do to help?
Get me J. Edgar Hoover.
King, you know you are a complete fraud and a liability to all nigras.
Like all frauds, your end is approaching.
You are done.
Your degrees and your fancy awards will not save you.
The American public will soon know you for what you are, an evil, abnormal beast.
That wasn't me.
That isn't me, Corrie.
I know what you sound like.
I've gotten used to a lot.
All the hours wondering after your safety, worried about how you are.
Without the things the children should have, all because of how it would look.
I have gotten used to it, for better or worse.
But what I have never gotten used to is the death.
The constant closeness of death.
It's become like a thick fog to me.
I can't see life sometimes because of the fog of death constantly hanging over.
People actually say that they will stop the blood running through the hearts of our children.
That's what they said on the other end of that phone line.
How they're going to kill my children.
And what they'll do to you and how they'll do it.
How many years have I had to listen to this?
The filth, deranged and twisted and just ignorant enough to be serious.
If I ask you something, will you answer me with the truth?
Good, because I am not a fool.
Do you love me?
Yes, I love you, Coretta.
Do you love any of the others?
I need to put the march back a day.
I have to be home right now.
Yes. Okay. I understand.
But I have to tell you the organization looks good.
The mood is strong. And the locals are prepared.
The SNCC kids are ready to go.
We can start it off from Selma, and you can join in on the second day.
I just think it'd be a mistake to hold people back when their blood is up.
I hear you, but we need to be out there full throttle.
This ain't a test run.
We need to get to Montgomery.
I warned Johnson that we were going to the Capitol.
We need to do just that.
And I believe we will. We'll get there.
And when we do the real deal, the finale, when you make the big speech at the end, right on Wallace's doorstep.
I don't know, Andy.
It'll be just fine.
We'll get it started strong. And you'll finish strong.
Okay. Let's proceed.
But only one of us walks to start.
I don't want to get back on Monday and find all our leadership in jail.
One of us walks.
There will be no march from Selma to Montgomery.
It is not conducive to traffic flow on Route 80.
Or to public safety.
Your lives could be in danger, but we're going to be strong if we stick together.
Don't fight back. It's a non-violent movement.
Non-violence is not passive. It's actually very strong.
We shouldn't do this, John. This is not us. This is not SNCC.
It's some bullshit.
It's gonna do more for King and the SCLC than for Selma.
This is Alabama.
They can keep their asses in Washington, D.C.
You don't tell us how to live our lives.
This is an example of what you might deal with out there.
What you might experience. Here we go. Let's show them.
We don't want your kind here.
Go to the bottom of the river, black boy.
We're going to put you down in Alabama River!
He's not even here. How's it gonna do more for him?
Well, why ain't he here, then, man?
Are you listening to yourself?
First, it's gonna do more for him. Now, it's why he ain't here?
Do you want him here, or do you not want him here?
Honestly, I don't give a rat's ass about that man. That's your hero.
Let's take these bastards and stick them down into Alabama River and never see them again.
James, you are so off-base with this.
All this nonsense. This ain't what SNCC is about.
Don't make me out to be the bad guy here, John.
I'm not! You're the one playing me small.
Don't demonize me...
You're mad because they called him in.
We were here first. And they called him in.
I get it. I understand that.
But if we are really and truly for the people, and the people of Selma chose him, well, then the people have spoken.
And if they want to march, then I'm marching with them.
Then, brother, you're marching as John Lewis.
Not as part of SNCC.
It's been voted on and decided.
For this march, you're on your own with De Lawd and his disciples.
Short man wins. Short man wins.
Short man wins.
All right. Who got it?
It's on you, Hosea.
You ready, young blood? You ready?
All right. Let's do this. -All right.
About 525 Negroes had left Brown's Chapel and walked six blocks to cross Pettus Bridge and the Alabama River.
There were young and old, and they carried an assortment of packs, bed rolls and lunch sacks.
The troopers were waiting 300 yards beyond the end of the bridge.
Behind the troopers were dozens of possemen, 15 of them on horses, and perhaps 100 white spectators.
Can you swim?
Not many swimming pools for black folk where I come from.
Andy, it's Bayard. Everybody there?
Turn on CBS right now, Andy.
Right now. You have a TV there?
Yes. Now? -Right now!
Turn on the television set.
We interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin from CBS News.
Give 'em two minutes. Stand right there.
This is an unlawful assembly.
You have two minutes to disperse.
Go home or go to your church.
This march will not continue.
May I have a word with the Major?
There's no word to be had.
Major Cloud, may we speak with you?
Seventy million people are watching this.
The first 10 or 20 Negroes were swept to the ground screaming, arms and legs flying, packs and bags went skittering across the grassy divider.
Those still on their feet retreated.
A cheer went up from the white spectators lining the south side of the highway.
Come on. You gotta come on.
The troopers continued pushing, using both the force of their bodies and the prodding of their nightsticks.
Suddenly, there was a sharp sound, like a gunshot, and a gray cloud spewed over the troopers and the Negroes.
But before the cloud hid it all, there were several seconds of unobstructed view.
Fifteen or 20 nightsticks could be seen through the gas, flailing at the heads of the marchers.
The Negroes cried out as they crowded together for protection, and the whites on the sidelines whooped and cheered.
From the hospital came reports of victims suffering fractures of ribs, heads, arms and legs.
And Negro leader John Lewis, despite injury from a possible skull fracture, led the marchers back to the chapel after the encounter with officers.
He said, "I don't see how President Johnson
"can send troops to Vietnam
"and can't send troops to Selma, Alabama."
To which the Negroes present roared their approval.
Gerry! Gerry, come with us! Come with us!
We need your gun, man!
I can't walk!
Come with us. We know you got them guns in the shed, Gerry.
Hey, hey, hey, what you need guns for?
The Bible says, "An eye for an eye," Reverend.
Yeah? -I'm sick of this shit!
How many guns you think they got down there?
That's an entire army down there.
What you got? A couple of 32s? A .38?
Maybe a couple of old scatterguns? What?
I got enough to kill a couple of them crackers, that's what I got!
And how many of us you think they gonna kill in retaliation?
With their 12-gauge pump-actions, their Colt automatics, their Remingtons, their helicopters, their tanks!
We won't win that way, and I ain't talking about the Bible.
I ain't talking what's right by God. I am talking facts. Cold, hard facts!
Now, you take two of them, and they take 10 of us.
No. We have to win another way.
...to our regularly scheduled program.
We're going back to the bridge.
We're going to finish this, we promise you that, Ms. Amelia.
We go again.
Dr. King! Can we get a statement, sir?
Dr. King! Morning, Doctor. Can we get a statement, please?
While rageful violence continues towards the unarmed people of Selma, while they are assaulted with tear gas and batons like an enemy in a war, no citizen of this country can call themselves blameless, for we all bear a responsibility for our fellow man.
I am appealing to men and women of God and goodwill everywhere, white, black and otherwise.
If you believe all are created equal, come to Selma.
Join us. Join our march against injustice and inhumanity.
We need you to stand with us.
Judge Johnson, Dr. King's call-to-action was nationally televised.
We've seen hundreds of people travel across the country to attend tomorrow's march, mostly white, mostly clergy of some kind.
The SCLC is seeking a federal court order enjoining the state authorities from interfering with the next march.
You're asking me to overturn the Governor's mandate and to do so without a hearing, but it's not going to happen at all without a proper proceeding.
Dr. King is in position to lead tomorrow's march, Judge.
Understood, but you will have your day in court on Thursday, Mr. Gray.
Meanwhile, there will be no march tomorrow.
I will not oppose Wallace against protocol.
"Thousands head south in moral crusade."
The SCLC already filed an appeal against Wallace's orders this morning.
You want my advice, Mr. President?
You have to ask?
Give King the march to Montgomery.
Do that, and then Selma's over.
Then you're back in control.
In control of what?
Another civil war?
This ain't about the goddamn march. You think he cares about the march?
He wants the law changed, now.
I've got Congress calling me by the dozens.
I've got picketing that gets bigger and bigger every day.
He tugs on their goddamn white liberal conscience.
Every march pulls 'em.
Especially when people are getting beat up in the streets.
These pictures are going around the world, Lee.
I understand, Mr. President. All the more reason to act now.
I'm gonna act now.
You tell Wallace and those backwater hicks I don't want to see any more of this horseshit.
And you tell King he best not march, you hear me?
Either King stops and Wallace stops, or I'll stop 'em both.
I'm here on the President's order to try and make this work.
Please work with me.
So we give up the march and you...
You give what?
We asked for federal protection.
And with no disrespect, but when the Assistant Attorney General is the highest-ranking federal official in Selma, we have our answer.
And it's not the one we want.
Might I suggest that you speak with Governor Wallace and Sheriff Clark and urge them against violence instead of trying to persuade us not to have a peaceful protest?
Maybe we can make a deal.
What if I could assure you that the administration would endorse a later march if tomorrow is called off?
You know what? He's closer than you may think to coming around on this issue.
I believe this compromise might be agreeable.
Thousands have gathered here to demonstrate their dignity.
I don't want to challenge Judge Johnson.
I don't want to go against the President. I don't want any of this.
The President could stop this with a stroke of his pen.
He chooses not to.
The decision is with your side, sir, not ours.
Good to see you, Father. Good to see you.
Thank you for coming. Thank you for coming out.
Hello, sister. Good to see you this afternoon.
You called and we came, my friend. You are not alone, my friend.
Hi, what's your name? -Susan.
Hi, I'm Viola. Welcome to Selma.
Yes, ma'am, I'm good. How are you? -Fine, thank you.
What is your name and where are you from, sir?
My name is James Reeb. I've come from Boston.
Tell me, why have you traveled here, Mr. Reeb?
I heard about the attack of innocent people who just want their rights, and I couldn't just stand by when Dr. King put out that call to clergy.
The President doesn't want us to march today.
The courts don't want us to march.
But we must march.
- We must stand up. Yeah !
We must make a massive demonstration of our moral certainty.
I'm so glad we're here together today.
I thank you for standing up.
For we shall be victorious in our quest.
We shall cross the finish line hand in hand.
For we shall overcome. All right.
My point is, after what happened the last time, if it don't feel right, we don't do it. That's my point.
We've been going round and round on this for hours, and nothing's gonna change the fact that it was Doc's decision and we have to support him.
This is a movement of many, not of one.
So any choice we make has to be right for many.
Come on, Diane. Now, you know that's not what I meant by that, all right?
People are angry, Dr. King.
Angry. They went back to that bridge because they were hot about Sunday.
That was our moment out there today.
And you threw it away.
They could've sealed off the road behind us.
No food, water, no kind of support allowed through.
We wouldn't have made 10 miles.
You saying this was a trap?
I don't know what it was.
That was no trap!
You know why they opened up the road to us?
Because all them nice, respectable white folks was with us, and we should've capitalized on that.
Because they're not gonna be around here for long. They never are!
It was Martin's call. It's done.
He made the wrong goddamn call!
Hey, watch your mouth, young man!
Two days ago, you didn't wanna march at all.
And now you're mad because it didn't go the way you planned?
Calm down, brother.
Now, what happened out there today? You gotta tell us something. Please.
I'd rather people be upset and hate me than be bleeding or dead.
My dearest Corrie, at a time when I need you, I cannot call you.
And I have done this to myself, to us.
At this late hour, my thoughts are of you and all you have sacrificed for this struggle.
So many have sacrificed.
So many have been lost.
I wonder how many must we lose.
I pray for discernment and guidance as we journey on.
I pray, too, that I can justify the faith you once had in me.
I, too, often feel that heavy fog you spoke of, Corrie.
Only you and our family clears the haze.
He betrayed trust.
He called, we came, and he didn't fulfill his own call.
Yeah, but sometimes it's not that clear-cut.
Sometimes it's instinctual.
Like when you're preaching, and you're just flying.
You know, you're not on the notes. You're not on memory.
You're tapped into what's higher, what's true.
God is guiding you.
I've known that feeling. It's rare, but I've known it.
I think that's what happened to Dr. King up there on the bridge today.
He kneeled down, prayed to God and got an answer.
And he was brave enough to follow that answer, and I, for one, don't fault him for it.
Except he owes me a bus ticket home.
You know what I hate more than niggers?
Look, we don't want trouble, okay?
No, you came here stirrin' trouble.
Doc, someone's been hurt.
A priest, from Boston.
Now you know what being a nigger around here feels like, boy.
I need a phone!
Chicago, Detroit, Boston, I don't care.
Hell, you got 2,000 people marching up in Harlem.
Well, good for you.
But when you have people come inside the White House?
Inside the White House! On a tour?
They just sat down, Martin.
They sat down in the main corridor, started singin' and shoutin'.
Well, I won't have it!
I cannot stop people from expressing...
You can! You can stop them.
No, you can stop it. You, sir, can do more.
Now I'm glad to hear that you called Reverend Reeb's widow, sir.
That is very fine, and it is right.
I only wish that Jimmie Lee Jackson's family would have received the same consideration from their President.
Don't you lay your guilt at my door.
You're the one choosing to send people out to slaughter when we told you there was trouble.
We won't sit idle while you wait another year or two to send this bill up at your leisure.
That should be clear by now.
We will continue to demonstrate until you take action, sir.
And if our President won't protect our rights, we will take this fight to court.
You know, I'm... I'm trying here.
We're getting close to figuring something out on this voting thing, but I will not have this!
This bill has been almost impossible to craft, you hear me?
You think you're jugglin', Martin? I'm jugglin', too.
I am a preacher from Atlanta.
You are the man who won the presidency of the world's most powerful nation by the greatest landslide in history four months ago.
And you are the man dismantling your own legacy with each passing day.
No one will remember the Civil Rights Act.
But they will remember the standoff in Selma when you never even set foot in this state.
They will remember you saying, "Wait," and "I can't," unless you act, sir.
I wanted to speak privately.
I know there's been trouble with the group, and I apologize that our efforts have caused a rift between y'all.
That's a painful thing, I know, and I'm truly sorry it's happened.
LBJ is not moving, John.
I thought he would, but our efforts are not working, and I can't risk another march with people getting killed when it's not working. I won't do it.
We need voting, not marching. You know that.
We have to move beyond these protests to some real political power.
This can't go on forever like this.
I can't go on like this.
When I was...
When I was working with SNCC on the Freedom Rides,
the Montgomery bus reached the city limits.
We got off. And out of nowhere, from all directions, they came.
There was men, women.
They had just about every makeshift weapon you could think of.
I mean, bats, bricks, tire irons, pipes.
I remember this little girl just clawing her nails into the side of my friend Jessie's face while her daddy... Her daddy beat him with an ax handle.
Jessie was unconscious, and they just kept beating on him and beating on him.
I must've passed out on the asphalt somewhere.
Next day, I found myself patched up and sitting in a church.
I could barely hold my head up, but I needed to be there.
You were gonna be speaking.
And I needed to hear you.
And I was feeling down, but you got up there.
You remember that day at all?
I don't think we remember it the same way.
What'd I say, John?
I'm about to tell you right now.
And I hope you hear me.
You said that we would triumph.
That we would triumph because there could be no other way.
And you know what else you said?
You said, "Fear not.
"We've come too far to turn back now."
I feel good about where we are. We have a strong case.
We can do this. -Right.
Now, Ms. Cooper and Ms. Boynton are here, and they need to be ready.
A lot depends on what they have to say. Okay?
I hear what you're saying, but...
Yes, I'm here.
Just in time.
In the matter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference v. the state of Alabama, I will now hear testimony from the plaintiffs. Mr. Gray.
Your Honor, you will hear testimony from the victims who were beaten and bludgeoned in their quest for freedom.
For their right to vote and to self-determine.
The fact of the matter, Your Honor, is that the incidents that occurred cannot be disputed.
These particular circumstances will paint a thorough picture of the horrific events endured in Selma.
Very well, you may proceed.
Mr. King, you went out on that bridge in direct violation of that judge's orders.
You deliberately disobeyed this judge and the Governor, did you not?
Thousands of people came to Selma, aroused by Sunday's brutal acts exacted by officials of the city of Selma and the state of Alabama.
I felt if I had not led the march, pent-up emotions and inner tensions would have led to an uncontrollable retaliatory situation, a violent situation on both sides.
I don't need any of your preaching and prancing in here, you hear? I want an answer.
Objection. -Watch it, counselor.
I'm trying very hard, Judge.
Try harder, counselor.
It seems basic to our constitutional principles that the extent of the right to assemble, and demonstrate and march along the highway in a peaceful manner ought to be commensurate with the enormity of the wrongs that are being protested and petitioned against.
In this case, the wrongs are enormous.
Therefore, the extent of the right to demonstrate in an estimated five-day march from Selma to Montgomery has been approved accordingly.
Yes! -Thank God!
There's no further business with this court.
These proceedings are concluded, with our thanks to the litigants.
Good day, gentlemen.
Yeah, that's right.
Well, now, we don't like to have no mistakes, if you...
If you're sure about it.
Bayard says that Harry says he can get Nina Simone, Dick Gregory, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul and Mary in.
Come on now. We don't got money for that.
Well, Harry is chartering a plane himself.
Day-O, day-Q Daylight come and me wan' go home President's angling for your blocking of the march to be overturned.
Unfortunately, all my maneuvers have been put on hold while the matter's being adjudicated.
Governor, you wanted to talk.
Well, Mr. President...
Malcontents are disrupting Alabama, and it's your responsibility to stop them.
They're protesting about the right to vote and the way they're treated in your state.
So that's your problem, your responsibility, and it's on your watch.
Mr. President, I disagree.
We have a certain way things are done. It's the way it is.
And it's the way the people want it to stay.
George, why are you doing this?
Your whole career has been working for the poor.
Why are you off on this black thing?
Well, 'cause you can't ever satisfy them.
First, it's the front seat of the bus.
Next, it's take over the parks, then it's the public schools, then it's voting, then it's jobs, then it's distribution of wealth without work.
George, you seen all those demonstrators out front of the White House keeping my Lady Bird awake the whole damn night?
Oh, yes, Mr. President. I saw them.
Well, let's go out there, you and I, and announce that you've decided to let the blacks vote undeterred, and this whole mess will go away.
And I don't have to draft bills or force the issue.
Now, why don't we do that, George?
Why don't you just let the niggers vote?
You agree they got the right to vote, dontyou?
There's no quarrel with that.
I know that. That's the law.
Then why don't you just let 'em vote?
I don't have that power. it belongs to the county registrars.
Now, don't shit me about who runs Alabama.
I don't have any legal power over the county registrars, Mr. President.
They have their regulations and they adhere.
Are you trying to shit me, George Wallace?
Are you trying to fuck over your President?
We shouldn't even be thinking about 1965.
We should be thinking about 1985.
You and I'll be both dead and gone by then.
In 1985, what do you want looking back?
You want people remembering you sayin', "Wait," or "I can't," or, "it's too hard"?
I don't right care what they think, and you shouldn't neither.
I'll be damned if I'm gonna let history put me in the same place as the likes of you.
I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy.
At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place.
So it was last week in Selma, Alabama.
There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans.
Rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself.
The issue for equal rights for the American Negro is that issue.
For this issue, many of them were brutally assaulted.
There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem.
There is only an American problem.
The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or color.
To correct the denial of this fundamental right, this Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate these illegal barriers.
The bill will strike down voting restrictions in all elections, federal, state and local.
And we shall do this.
We shall overcome.
We believe we can cover you through Lowndes County, but once we add the final day's march through Montgomery, and you're passing through all those tall buildings and whatnot, coverage becomes challenging.
So please consider driving in on the final leg.
And please consider nixing the speech at the Capitol.
Well, if Wallace will see us when we arrive, there'll be no need for a speech.
Can you arrange that?
I can't hide.
We can't hide. You understand.
I don't want to see this go wrong for you.
Don't you want to protect yourself, Doctor?
Let me try to do that.
You know, I know you want to live to see the fruits of all this work. I know you do.
I'm just asking you to allow us to help you do that.
I'm no different than anybody else.
I want to live long and be happy.
But I'll not be focusing on what I want today.
I'm focused on what God wants.
We're here for a reason, through many, many storms.
But, today, the sun is shining, and I'm about to stand in its warmth alongside a lot of freedom-loving people who worked hard to get us here.
I may not be with them for all the sunny days to come, but as long as there is light ahead for them, it's worth it to me.
Thank you, John.
We heard them say we'd never make it here.
We heard them say they'd stop us, if it was the last thing they did.
We heard them say we don't deserve to be here.
But today, we stand as Americans.
We are here, and we ain't gonna let nobody turn us around.
This mighty march, which will be counted as one of the greatest demonstrations of protest and progress, ends here in the Capitol of Alabama for a vital purpose.
We have not fought only for the right to sit where we please and go to school where we please.
We do not only strive here today to vote as we please.
But with our commitment, we give birth each day to a new energy that is stronger than our strongest opposition.
And we embrace this new energy so boldly, embody it so fervently, that its reflection illuminates a great darkness.
Our society has distorted who we are.
From slavery to the Reconstruction to the precipice at which we now stand, we have seen powerful white men rule the world while offering poor white men a vicious lie as placation.
And when the poor white man's children wail with a hunger that cannot be satisfied, he feeds them that same vicious lie.
A lie whispering to them that regardless of their lot in life, they can at least be triumphant in the knowledge that their whiteness makes them superior to blackness.
But we know the truth.
We know the truth, and we will go forward to that truth, to freedom.
We will not be stopped.
We will march for our rights.
We will march to demand treatment as full citizens.
We will march until the viciousness and the darkness gives way to the light of righteousness.
No man, no myth, no malaise will stop this movement.
We forbid it. For we know that it is this darkness that murders the best in us and the best of us.
Whether Jimmie Lee Jackson or James Reeb, or four blameless little girls struck down before they had even begun.
You may ask, when will we be free of this darkness?
I say to you today, my brothers and sisters, despite the pain, despite the tears, our freedom will soon be upon us.
For "truth crushed to earth will rise again."
When will we be free?
Soon, and very soon.
Because you shall reap what you sow.
When will we be free?
Soon, and very soon.
Because no lie can live forever.
When will we be free?
Soon, and very soon because "Mine eyes have seen
"the glory of the coming of the Lord.
"He is trampling out the vintage
"where the grapes of wrath are stored.
"He hath loosed the fateful lightning
"of his terrible swift sword.
"His truth is marching on.
"His truth is marching on."