EN ROUTE FROM SELMA TO MONTGOMERY, Ala., March 22, 1965 (UPI) -- With airplanes sweeping overhead and U.S. Army troops standing at the ready, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and 300 civil rights demonstrators trooped down Jefferson Davis Highway Monday on the The marchers stepped off promptly at 9 a.m. after spending a chilly night in a cow pasture.
Morale was high, the day bright and sunny.
The marchers stepped briskly, eight abreast.
Some carried large bedrolls in their arms. Others had knapsacks strapped to their backs.
A few women wore dress hats, others carried colorful bed quilts over their arms.
Before setting out, the ranks of the marchers were trimmed from 500 to 300 persons, in accordance with the order of the federal judge who approved the march. The order specified only 300 persons could march at one time along sections of U.S. 80 where the roadway narrows to two lanes.
A big groan went up from the demonstrators when Rev. Andrew Young told them that some would have to drop out. "Now don't get nervous because you can get back in the march when we get to the four-lane again near Montgomery," Young explained.
King slept in a bedroll in the parade's mobile unit. "I'm a little stiff and sore, but I probably will get rid of the stiffness today," he said.
The temperature dropped to below freezing during the night.
Most of the marchers were silent, but some singing could be heard from the long line.
Their spirits seemed to warm still further as the morning chill disappeared. There was much laughing and joking in the ranks.
Troops were again stationed along the full route of the march. Most of the soldiers however operated from vehicles which deposited and picked them up where they were needed.
The marchers had their work well organized and trucks picked up their bedrolls from Sunday night on the run.
The march was late getting started Sunday and King wanted to make up the lost mileage today. Under a federal court order permitting the march, the civil rights demonstrators must complete the 50-mile hike by 4 p.m. EST Thursday.
Four thousand persons, including Undersecretary Ralph Bunche of the United Nations, began the walk from Brown's Chapel AME Church in Selma Sunday to jeers of groups of whites closely watched by carbine-bearing soldiers. But only around 300 pitched camp on the farm of David Hall, a Negro, Sunday night. The remainder of the marchers were transported the eight miles back to Selma.