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.
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