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Voting rights activist and Deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died at the hands of an Alabama State Trooper on February 26, 1965, which inspired the first of the SCLC marches in Selma. It would take 42 years before his family saw justice.

Jackson was born December 16, 1938 in Marion, Ala. He served as the deacon of Saint James Baptist Church in his hometown, and led voting rights causes there. The SCLC and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. among others inspired Jackson.

On February 18, 1965, Jackson joined a peaceful group of marchers who were heading to the Perry County Jail in support of civil rights worker, James Orange. According to accounts, police cut the lights in the area fearing an armed standoff and savagely beat the marchers, including injuring an NBC News journalist.

Jackson was beaten and shot twice in the abdomen by State Trooper James Fowler, who assumed the unarmed activist was going for a gun. Jackson would die of his wounds days later. The SCLC’s James Bevel organized the first of the Selma to Montgomery marches in honor of Jackson.

Fowler managed to dodge an indictment from a grand jury in 1965 but in 2007, he was charged with first and second-degree murder. The trooper pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges, getting a light sentence of six months and serving only five.

PHOTO: Public Domain

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