Politics

Civil Rights Killing of 1965 Reopened

May 09, 2007 03:28 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
An Alabaman grand jury indicts a former state trooper for the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson, whose death led to Bloody Sunday and the Civil Rights Act.

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On February 18, 1965 James B. Fowler was a state trooper assigned to quell a civil disturbance in Selma, Alabama. What happened next has been in dispute ever since.

Fowler claimed that he shot in self-defense when Jimmie Lee Jackson attacked him. Civil rights historians tell a different story. They say that during the demonstration, the police beat Jackson's mother. When Jackson tried to defend her, Fowler shot him twice in the stomach. Jackson died eight days later.

Activists organized the historic Selma-to-Montgomery March to protest Jackson’s death. From that seminal event in the civil rights movement grew the Voting Rights Act of 1965, protecting the suffrage of African-Americans.

Alabaman District Attorney Michael W. Jackson, the lone African–American DA in Alabama and the first from Selma, reopened the Jackson case after he was elected in 2005.

The investigation is the latest in a series of belated civil rights–era prosecutions.

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