King went to Washington, D.C., to discuss a voting rights bill with President Lyndon Johnson. Although the president was supportive, he didn't think the bill could pass. He told King to wait, but King did not want to wait. He and other activists decided to protest in Selma, Alabama. Selma was a typical Southern city. Very few blacks were registered to vote, even though about half the population was black. The protests began in January 1965.
A month later, a protester, Jimmie Lee Jackson, was shot and killed by state troopers. Jackson's death spurred King and the others to organize a voting-rights protest march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital.