On March 7, 1965, Alabama state troopers and Dallas County police officers violently attacked protesters marching for voting rights across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. One day later, Mrs. E. Jackson of Brooklyn, New York, wrote a desperate letter to her Representative and Judiciary Committee Chairman Emanuel Celler. In just a few lines, she conveyed the outrage of many citizens in the United States who watched the brutality unfold on their television screens: “For God sakes help those poor innocent people in Selma Alabama. If your voice or vote can be of service now is the time to use it.” In pencil, Celler asked a secretary to respond to Mrs. Jackson: “Tell her I condemn Gov Wallace for his shameful conduct in ordering use of tear gas and war tactics in Selma and am cooperating with the administration to punish the offenders and to prevent recurrence of the mischief.”
The events in Selma accelerated the legislative progress for voting rights. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was introduced in the House on March 17, 1965, and signed into law on August 6, 1965. The law protected the right to vote for all citizens and made methods used to obstruct voter registration illegal, such as poll taxes and literacy tests.