Good morning and welcome to Brown Chapel AME Church, the historically heavy hotspot in Selma that holds more Civil Rights history than most other places in town, even the state! Brown Chapel is considered to be the starting point for the Selma to Montgomery Marches of ‘65, this spot the birthplace of the infamous day known as Bloody Sunday itself. Located at 410 MLK Jr Street in Selma, this regionally and nationally iconic spot once served as the official meeting place and offices of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, or SCLC. This group played a major role in the events leading up to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which means that this church did as well!
Today the imposing twin towers of this Romanesque Revival Church (designed originally by AJ Farley in 1908) are considered to make up a National Historic Landmark, this spot a highly visited one and highly historical one. On March 7th, 1965, around 600 protesters gathered at this church with plans to march from Selma to the Capital (Montgomery). Things didn’t quite go according to plan, as they very few times do, as the group was ambushed by guarded policemen about six blocks away near the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Hosea Williams and John Lewis fought it out with the rest of the crowd, the violent movement known as Bloody Sunday from then on out. The event was televised and much more joined the efforts, including MLK Jr himself just two days later. This event led to the iconic five-day MLK Jr-led marches, as well as the passing of the Voting Act of 1965 just under five months later. There is truly no better way to feel the importance of these events and this particular piece of key U.S history than by seeing the spot that sparked it all itself!