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Civil rights protesters beaten in “Bloody Sunday” attack

March 4, 2020 in History

By Editors

On March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama, a 600-person civil rights demonstration ends in violence when marchers are attacked and beaten by white state troopers and sheriff’s deputies. The day’s events became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

The demonstrators—led by civil rights activists John Lewis of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Hosea Williams of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference—were commemorating the recent fatal shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old church deacon, by state trooper James Bonard Fowler. The group planned to march the 54 miles from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital. Just as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge outside Selma, they were ordered to disperse. Moments later, police assaulted them with tear gas, bullwhips and billy clubs. Lewis, then 25, was one of 17 marchers hospitalized; dozens more were treated for injuries.

The violence was broadcast on TV and recounted in newspapers, spurring demonstrations in 80 cities across the nation within days. On March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr. led more than 2,000 marchers to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. On March 15, President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke on the need for voting reform, something activists in Selma had long been fighting for: “There is no issue of states’ rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. We have already waited 100 years and more, and the time for waiting is gone.”

King completed the march to Montgomery, along with 25,000 demonstrators, on March 25, under the protection of the U.S. military and the FBI. The route is now a U.S. National Historic Trail. Prodded by what Johnson called “the outrage of Selma,” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed into law five months later, with the purpose to “right that wrong.” Lewis became a U.S. congressman from Georgia in 1986.

READ MORE: How Selma’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ Became a Turning Point in the Civil Rights Movement

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How Eisenhower Secretly Pushed Back Against McCarthyism

March 4, 2020 in History

By Jesse Greenspan

Though silent in public, President Dwight D. Eisenhower worked behind the scenes to discredit Senator Joseph McCarthy and his red-baiting tactics.

Though they were both Republicans and briefly campaigned together in 1952, President Dwight D. Eisenhower “loathed [Senator Joseph] McCarthy as much as any human being could possibly loathe another,” according to the president’s brother. Yet Eisenhower refused to criticize McCarthy to the press, telling aides he would “not get into the gutter with that guy.” Instead, Eisenhower opted for a clandestine campaign to stamp out the senator’s influence.

Far from appeasing McCarthy, as his critics asserted at the time, Eisenhower played a major role in effecting his fellow Republican’s downfall.

Joseph McCarthy Rides Red Scare Wave

The Red Scare Started Before the McCarthy Era (TV-PG; 1:46)

WATCH: The Red Scare Started Before the McCarthy Era

Not long after World War II, anti-Communist paranoia swept through the United States, prompted by such events as the explosion of the first Soviet atomic bomb, the Communist takeover of China, the outbreak of the Korean War and the trial of the Rosenbergs.

In February 1950, at the height of the so-called Red Scare, McCarthy rose to prominence by falsely claiming to have a list of 205 known Communists working at the U.S. State Department. (When pressed for details, he later changed the number to 57.) The Wisconsin senator’s anti-Communist crusade only intensified from there, as he railed against allegedly subversive activity within various government entities.

“There were spies, and it was a real issue,” says David A. Nichols, author of Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower’s Secret Campaign Against Joseph McCarthy. “But there’s no evidence I found that McCarthy ever caught one. It was all political bluster.”

McCarthy’s sway further increased in 1953, when he became chair of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, a position he used to subpoena witnesses, hold hearings, and make wild accusations against those he perceived as disloyal, many of whom lost their jobs and reputations.

McCarthy even attacked George C. Marshall, the architect of the Marshall Plan, not to mention Eisenhower’s former boss and mentor, essentially accusing him of treason. He also held up key Eisenhower appointees, most notably the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, for allegedly being soft on Communism.

Eisenhower’s Silence Mistaken for Approval of McCarthyism

President Eisenhower (right) initially maintained silence …read more