Martin Luther King Jr. organized a freedom march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest voter registration interference by the police. The march was halted when Alabama state troopers stopped and beat the protestors at Pettus Bridge. The march resumed with 3,200 protestors on March 21. They were escorted at President Johnson’s orders by the National Guard. The march reached Montgomery with more than 25,000 protestors on March 25.
A group of African American and white activists left Washington, DC, for New Orleans in the first Freedom Ride. Freedom Riders intended to test the enforcement of the ban on segregation in interstate bus travel. The riders faced violent attacks and arrest. Local police forces did nothing to protect them from angry white mobs. Eventually the National Guard was called in for the riders’ protection. On May 29, Robert F. Kennedy petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to enforce the interstate travel segregation ban.
The President’s Committee on Civil Rights released To Secure These Rights, a report that condemned segregation, called for the integration of American society, and made numerous recommendations for the protection of civil rights.
The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified. The amendment prohibited poll taxes for federal elections, which had often been imposed by state and local governments to prevent African Americans from voting.
In an invasion planned by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and approved by the Kennedy administration, US-backed Cuban anti-Castro forces landed at the Bay of Pigs but were overcome by Castro’s troops. More than 1100 men were captured in an embarrassing defeat. The prisoners were eventually ransomed back to the US in exchange for food and medicine.