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Rev James Reeb, 38
Selma, Alabama
March 11, 1957

Last updated: 8 months ago

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Reeb, a white Unitarian minister working in a poor black neighborhood in Boston, was one of the many who heeded Dr. King’s call for clergy to join him in Selma for the march to Montgomery. Reeb, 38, was a father of four and wholly committed to the cause of civil rights. While in Selma, he and two other white ministers left a diner and were accosted by a trio of white men. Reeb was beaten with a club and slipped into a coma, dying the following day.

Reeb’s death, along with the murders of Jimmie Lee Jackson and Viola Liuzzo, brought such intense light to the darkness of violence and hatred in the South that on the evening of Reeb’s memorial service, President Johnson made a special plea to Congress to move on the Voting Rights Act. The act was passed later that summer.