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Attacks on Selma Civil-Rights Era Murder More Than 50 Years Later



Minister James Reeb's murder on a Selma, Alabama, street corner in 1965 sent shockwaves through the civil rights movement and spurred passage of the Voting Rights Act, finally enfranchising millions of black Americans. But the murder remains officially unsolved — the three men charged with attacking Reeb in 1965 were acquitted by an all-white jury. However, NPR found an eyewitness to the attack who has never spoken publicly about what she saw, and she confirmed the three people who were attacked. She also said another man, William Portwood, was involved and confirmed in an NPR interview that he did take part in the attack. "All I did was kick one of them," Portwood said, referring to Reeb and two other ministers who were attacked. Yet Portwood died less than two weeks after confirming his involvement, according to NPR. Had he been arrested after the attack, he had been tried for murder along with the other alleged attackers.


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