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The 1965  Selma to Montgomery marches were actually three linked marches, reflecting the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. They grew out of the on-going voting rights campaign, centered in Selma, Alabama. 

The first march on March 7th came to a bloody conclusion at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. It was the third march that brought together many prominent civil rights advocates, civic leaders, union leaders, prominent writers and cultural figures who supported voting rights, as well students from colleges across the country. 

Only the third march, which began on March 21 and lasted five days, made it to the state capital, Montgomery, 51 miles (82 km) away.

The marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the "Jefferson Davis Highway". Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, they arrived in Montgomery on March 24, and at the Alabama Capitol building on March 25. Here, at the steps of the state capital, before 25,000 marchers, King delivered a stirring address, now referred to as his "How Long, Not Long” speech.

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