The Selma to Montgomery marches were three protest marches, held in 1965, along the 54-mile highway from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital of Montgomery. The marches were organized by nonviolent activists to demonstrate the desire of African-American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression; they were part of a broader voting rights movement underway in Selma and throughout the American South. By highlighting racial injustice, they contributed to passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the civil rights movement.
Southern state legislatures had passed and maintained a series of discriminatory requirements and practices that had disenfranchised most of the millions of African Americans across the South throughout the 20th century. The African-American group known as the Dallas County Voters League launched a voter registration campaign in Selma in 1963. Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters.