Marie Foster, a civil rights activist, died on Sept. 6. Cause of death was not released. She was 85.
Foster was one of the “Courageous Eight,” a group of black Americans who sat on the steering committee of the Dallas County Voters League and convinced Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to lead voter registration drives in Alabama. At the time, blacks had to prove “fitness” to cast a vote in an election. Foster, who was rejected eight times before she was successfully registered, also taught citizenship classes to help others gain permission to vote.
On March 7, 1965, Foster was marching for voting rights in Montgomery, Ala., when she was brutally beaten by Alabama state troopers and local police officers. The incident was called “Bloody Sunday” by the national press, and inspired Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law that removed the obstacles set up by white segregationists to deny the ballot to blacks.
The vest Foster wore during the march was autographed by many leaders of the civil rights movement and put on display at the National Voting Rights Institute and Museum in Selma, Ala. The street where Foster lived as a child was renamed in her honor.