On this day in Alabama history: Civil rights activist James Reeb died

On this day in Alabama history: Civil rights activist James Reeb died
James Reeb (1927-1965) was a social worker and Unitarian Universalist minister who was killed by segregationists in Selma in 1965. Reeb's death played a pivotal role in passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act by the U.S. Congress. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Unitarian Universalist Association)

March 11, 1965

Civil rights activist James Reeb died from head trauma in a Birmingham hospital after being severely beaten by a group of white men in Selma two days earlier. A white Unitarian Universalist minister, Reeb traveled to Selma from Boston to join protests following the events of “Bloody Sunday” on March 7. After eating dinner at a local café on March 9, he and two fellow ministers were attacked by four men with clubs after inadvertently walking down a side street. Reeb’s death spurred demonstrations across the country and, on March 15, President Lyndon B. Johnson urged Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act on the same day the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. eulogized Reeb at a ceremony at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church in Selma.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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