Dallas County Voters League

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The Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) was a local organization in Dallas County, Alabama, which contains the city of Selma, that sought to register black voters during the late 1950s and early 1960s.[1]

The organization was founded in the 1920s by Charles J. Adams, a postal service employee and civil rights organizer.[2] The DCVL was later revived by an eight-member steering committee, known as the "Courageous Eight,": Amelia Boynton, Ulysses S. Blackmon, James E. Gildersleeve,[3] Frederick D. Reese, Rev. John D. Hunter, Rev. Henry Shannon, Earnest Doyle, and Marie Foster.[4]

The group began its campaign to register black voters in 1963. In 1965 the organization worked in collaboration with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. Even when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, legally ending the practice of segregation, they still found difficulty in getting any black voters registered. In late 1964 they received the help of the SCLC, led by Martin Luther King Jr.

After SCLC and King launched the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Campaign on January 2, 1965, schoolteacher Frederick Reese, the president of the DCVL, convinced his fellow teachers to join an attempt to register to vote in mass. They made three attempts on January 22 to climb the steps of the county courthouse and were beaten back each time.[5] Since previous attempts to register had been made largely by blue-collar workers and students, this marked the first attempt in Dallas County by local educated blacks to register in large numbers.

The first march from Selma to Montgomery was attempted on March 7, 1965. Bloody Sunday was initiated by SCLC member James Bevel, and organized by Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others. When the marchers crossed the bridge they were attacked by deputies of the county sheriff Jim Clark and Alabama State Troopers, and Amelia Boynton was beaten and left unconscious in the street. The picture of her unconscious figure was widely publicized and helped fuel outrage at the treatment of the marchers.

Other members of the DCVL were Annie Lee Cooper, Louis Lloyd Anderson (pastor of Tabernacle Church), and J. L. Chestnut.


  1. ^ Vaughn, Wally G.; Davis, Mattie Campbell, eds. (2006). The Selma Campaign, 1963-1965: The Decisive Battle of the Civil Rights Movement. The Majority Press. p. 220. ISBN 9780912469447.
  2. ^ Thornton, J. Mills (2002). Dividing Lines: Municipal Politics and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. University of Alabama Press. p. 416. ISBN 9780817311704.
  3. ^ "A Courageous Man: James Gildersleeve 1918-2004". The Selma Times-Journal.
  4. ^ "The Story". The Selma-Dallas County Friends of the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail Association.
  5. ^ "1965-Teachers March" Civil Rights Movement Veterans History and Timeline

External links[edit]

  • Dallas County Voters League. Excerpt from "From Selma To Montgomery: Remembering Alabama's Civil Rights Movement Through Museums," a Florida State University dissertation by Holly Jansen.