The five-day, four-night march began on March 21, and covered a 54-mile (87 km) route along U.S. Route 80 (in Alabama known as the "Jefferson Davis Highway"). Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged ten miles (16 km) a day and arrived in Montgomery on the 24th, and the Alabama Capitol building on the 25th.
On March 21, close to 8,000 people assembled at Brown Chapel to commence the trek to Montgomery. Most of them were black, but also participating were a significant number of whites along with some Asians and Latinos. In 1965, the road to Montgomery was four lanes wide going east from Selma, then narrowed to two lanes through Lowndes County, and then widened to four lanes again at Montgomery county border. Under the terms of Judge Johnson's order, the march was limited to no more than 300 participants for the two days they were on the two-lane portion of Highway-80, so at the end of the first day most of the marchers returned to Selma by bus and car, leaving 300 to camp overnight and take up the journey the next day.
On March 22 and 23rd, 300 protesters marched through chilling rain across Lowndes county, camping at three sites in muddy fields. At the time of the march, the population of Lowndes County was 81% Black and 19% white, but not a single black was registered to vote. At the same time there were 2240 whites registered to vote in Lowndes County, a figure that represented 118% of the adult white population (in many southern counties of that era it was common practice to retain white voters on the rolls after they died or moved away).
On the morning of 24th, the march crossed into Montgomery County and the highway widened again to four lanes. All day as the march approached the city, additional marchers were ferried by bus and car to join the line. By evening, several thousand marchers had reached the fin...