Lynch Made History Happen

Impact of Lynch on Selma to Montgomery March

Segregation Forever No More
Lynch and 4,000 armed Guardsmen forever changed history and were
instrumental in acting to secure freedom and civil rights for all Americans.
Unidentified soldier watches over marchers in this photo.

Like Moses, Lt. Col. Leonard P. Lynch and 4,000 National Guard troops parted the waters of hatred and opened the road from Selma to Montgomery to enable Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of marchers to reach Montgomery without bloodshed on March 21-25, 1965.

The Selma to Montgomery March was enabled by a military operation, carefully planned and orchestrated, which involved 4,000 Nationa Guard troops deployed to secure a safe corridor from Selma to Montgomery. Lt. Col. Leonard P. Lynch under orders from Commander in Chief Lyndon B. Johnson was the primary logistics and transportation officer who was responsible for the conduct of this operation. Lynch was also involved in contengency planning and training of National Guard units for crisis situations and management between 1960-1967, and units Lynch trained and commanded were largely responsible for the high degree of security which was provided to marchers.

The security Lynch and Gurdsmen provided involved stationing of armed guardsmen, moving of ordinance and supplies, establishing base camps, encircling marchers at nighttime, patroling highway 80 during the march, providing air surveillance during the march and intervention to avoid hurt, injury or bloodshed during the march. It also involved all logistical planning and communication with the White House. Lynch was in direct voice contact with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy throughout the march who relayed progress to the President. The plan was to effect a safe march and to proceed on the political front with voting rights legislation which Johnson had introduced into Congress on March 15, 1965 after the events of "bloody Sunday."

The Alabama Legislature and Governor George C. Wallace passed Resolution No. 28 labeling march leaders as outside "aggitators" and calling upon all citizens to stay at home during the march. However marchers were harrassed by segregationists throughout the march. Because Governor Wallace would not protect the marchers who included citizens of Alabama, that role and responsibility was assumed by Lynch and 4,000 other armed Guardsmen. Force of arms by these soldiers along with the march itself and events of "bloody Sunday" which preceded the march changed history and had a significant impact upon public opinion. The result was the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson or August 7, 1965.

Resolution No. 28 signed by Governor George C. Wallace represents one of the darkest moments in Alabama history. It serves as a reminder of the times, that Wallace and members of both houses of the Legislature were segregations pledged to maintaining white supremacy in Alabama and upholding George C. Wallace's declaration of, "Segregation today! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!" Lynch and the National Guardsmen who provided security for the Selma to Montgomery marchers played a vital role in forever ending segregation in Alabama and in America.

Lynch was in the right place at the right time to have a significant impact upon history. Because Lynch and 4,000 Guardsmen took up arms and stood in harms way to protect and secure the rights and freedom of their fellow Americans, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands who followed in his lead were able to march into Montgomery and assemble at the State Capitol to demand their right to vote.

We can do no greater honor then to recognize Lynch and these soldiers for doing their duty, for God and for country. Whatever freedoms and civil rights we enjoy today, it is because of the sacrifices Lynch and other soldiers made for us. That is their gift of love to their children, that we might follow our dreams!

Terry Lynch
29 April 1998

Onward Christian Soldiers

What better music to remind us of the sacrifice our forefather made in marching for their civil rights. Without the soldier to secure our freedom, there might not be any sons or daughters to follow their dreams. TAL 29 April 1998


Credit is deferred to the Alabama Department of Archives and History and to the newspaper or original doument source cited.

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