October 24, 1917|
|Died||September 6, 2003
Marie Foster (October 24, 1917 – September 6, 2003) was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. during the 1960s. She was instrumental in helping to register many African-American voters in Selma, Alabama, and was one of the primary local organizers of the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. She also helped create the Dallas County Voters League, a group of African Americans that pushed for improvements in the system for voter registration.
Foster became interested in the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s because she felt "the race relations were so bad in Selma". She tried to register to vote eight times before succeeding. Following her successful registration, Foster began teaching other African Americans how to pass the tests used to bar them. One person showed up to her first class, in which she taught the 70-year-old man how to write his own name. Gradually, the classes drew more and more people.
As the Civil Rights Movement grew, Foster became an organizer for the Dallas County area. She participated in the march on March 7, 1965, that became known as Bloody Sunday. As the march approached the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a combined state trooper and police force stopped the march, violently beating many of the participants. Foster was at the front of one of the lines, and was clubbed by a state trooper, leaving her with swollen knees. Despite her injuries, two weeks later Foster participated in the march that eventually made it all the way to Montgomery, Alabama, successfully walking fifty miles over five days.