The events of Selma take place in 1964 as Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. fights for equal rights for African Americans, with the right to vote being the main and primary goal. The movie begins with a look at Dr.King and his wife Coretta Scott King preparing for the ceremony, in which Dr.King will receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
The movie then switches over to the scene in which four young African American girls attending church are bombed resulting in their death;consequently, setting the an early depiction of the harsh treatment towards African Americans in the movie. Dr.King visits President Lyndon B.Johnson in order to secure equal voting rights, but is put of by the president for other issues such as poverty. Dr.King then travels to Selma to carry out his plans where he is accompanied by people such as Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young, and James Orange. Dr.King later attempts to rally his cause by speaking to other civil rights activists before marching in front of the Selma courthouse.
It is at the courthouse where King is taken prisoner. The next march in the movie takes place in Marion, Alabama where Alabama troops use violence in order to stop the movement. This march sees the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson, which causes much distress to Dr.King as he is seen giving a speech talking about Jackson.
The next major event is seen as the first march from Selma to Montgomery, a march King will not be able to attend as he is in Atlanta. The march sees the same outcome as the march in Marion, where extreme force is used upon the African Americans leading to injuries of the marchers. The event which was seen on national television infuriates President Johnson, who demands King to stop their actions and postpone the second march. King however declines and moves forward with the second march from Selma to Montgomery, with the arrival of white citizens joining the fight. This time the troops stepped aside and opened a clear path for King, who then decided to turn around after he had first prayed. King later comes under backlash from members of SNCC who believed they should have continued the march when the had the chance, but King remains firm to his choice. Later President Johnson finally makes the decision to pass the bill which for the African American community eliminated voter restrictions.
The final scene in the movie sees the final march from Selma to Montgomery, with footage of the real life march in 1965. Dr.King is then seen speaking at Alabama State Capitol speaking of the great freedom that lay close in near future.