Jimmie Lee Jackson: More Than A Protestor

Jimmie Lee Jackson, was a Vietnam veteran, Baptist deacon, activist and martyr of the Civil Rights Movement.

Jackson, active in the fight for equal rights, had tried multiple times to register to vote in Alabama and was denied each time. On February 18, 1965, he attended a meeting at Zion Chapel Methodist Church, followed by a vigil in support of recently arrested civil rights activist and reverend, James Orange when state and local police converged upon the vigil and attacked both the participants and members of the national media covering the event. After seeking shelter in a nearby building, and being assaulted by officers, Jackson was shot twice in the abdomen by Alabama State Trooper James Bonard Fowler. He would die eight days later in a Selma hospital.

Inspired by Jackson, SNCC leaders organized the first Selma-Montgomery march for voting rights on March 7th. That march resulted in what became known as “Bloody Sunday,” filled with similar violence Jackson and his family faced that evening weeks earlier. The march provoked a public outcry and after three attempts, protesters were able to complete the 50-mile trek. The march, inspired by Jackson, would paved the way for the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Learn more about Jimmie Lee Jackson and other civil rights icons at The Center. For further reading, check out the Southern Poverty Law Center‘s site for more information. Plan your visit today and experience how we’re more than a museum.