On March 7th, 1965, protesters gathered to march in protest of on-going exclusion from the voting process and their general disenfranchisement. The march, planned by members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), was supposed to be a peaceful walk from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama via the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Originally, the march was not going to be televised that night, but the events of what would come to be called “Bloody Sunday,” were too important to pass up.
On the evening of March 7th, over 48 million viewers tuned in to ABC to watch the award winning film, Judgement at Nuremburg. Within minutes of the film’s opening, ABC interrupted the segment to show live coverage of the Selma to Montgomery march. Shaky images depicted Alabama troopers beating, gassing, and harassing marchers as they attempted to cross the bridge. More than once smoke filled the screen and viewers could only hear the screams of protesters. The coverage of this event was quite unique in that it was live and unedited; this march possessed a feeling of immediacy and a power that the others did not. The unedited, unfiltered stream of action exposed the brutality some faced in the South and, although a tragic and terrible event, served as better PR in favor of the Civil Rights movement than anything that could have been planned.