During the civil rights era, many Americans were peripherally aware of regular skirmishes between protestors and the police. But on March 7, 1965, one of these clashes couldn’t be ignored. With millions of Americans settling in to watch their Sunday night shows, the major news networks interrupted their regularly scheduled programming to broadcast footage from Selma, where a 25-year-old activist named John Lewis was attacked and gassed by the police.

University of Virginia media historian Aniko Bodroghkozy explains how these images jolted the nation’s conscience, making voting rights an issue they could no longer ignore. In the process, a civil rights icon was born.

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Nick Lehr

Arts + Culture Editor

John Lewis, in the foreground, is beaten by a state trooper during a civil rights voting march in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. AP Photo

How the images of John Lewis being beaten during ‘Bloody Sunday’ went viral

Aniko Bodroghkozy, University of Virginia

Thanks to some serendipity and fortuitous timing, the images emerging out of Selma had a uniquely powerful effect on the nation.

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