", The movement organizers found themselves out of money after the amount of required bail was raised. , Modeled on the Montgomery bus boycott, protest actions in Birmingham began in 1962, when students from local colleges arranged for a year of staggered boycotts. ISBN 0-8204-0806-9; Davis, Jack. " He headed the planning of what he called Project C, which stood for "confrontation". ", Turmoil in the mayor's office also weakened the Birmingham city government in its opposition to the campaign. It marked the maturation of the SCLC as a national force in the civil rights arena of the land that had been dominated by the older and stodgier NAACP. This resulted in over a thousand arrests, and, as the jails and holding areas filled with arrested students, the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene "Bull" Connor, used high-pressure water hoses and police attack dogs on the children and adult bystanders. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, D.C. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, San Jose, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Birmingham_campaign&oldid=1000583939, African-American history in Birmingham, Alabama, Civil rights protests in the United States, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Outbreak of mass demonstrations throughout, Burnished Martin Luther King Jr.'s reputation. United States House Select Committee on Assassinations, Martin Luther King Jr. Records Collection Act, King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis, The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306, Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, Joseph Schwantner: New Morning for the World; Nicolas Flagello: The Passion of Martin Luther King.  On June 12, 1963, Evers was fatally shot outside his home. Because King was the major fundraiser, his associates urged him to travel the country to raise bail money for those arrested. When police went to inspect the motel, they were met with rocks and bottles from neighborhood black citizens. Spectators taunted police, and SCLC leaders begged them to be peaceful or go home.  Horrified at what the Birmingham police were doing to protect segregation, New York Senator Jacob K. Javits declared, "the country won't tolerate it", and pressed Congress to pass a civil rights bill. City parks and golf courses were opened again to black and white citizens. Those in jail would be released on bond or their own recognizance. Phone: (205) 328-9696 Please contact the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute at the number above for general questions about Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument. Despite decades of disagreements, when the photos were released, "the black community was instantaneously consolidated behind King", according to David Vann, who would later serve as mayor of Birmingham. On May 10, Fred Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King Jr. told reporters that they had an agreement from the City of Birmingham to desegregate lunch counters, restrooms, drinking fountains and fitting rooms within 90 days, and to hire black people in stores as salesmen and clerks. University of North Carolina Press. That evening he declared at a mass meeting, "I have been inspired and moved by today. Jobs available to black workers were limited to manual labor in Birmingham's steel mills, work in household service and yard maintenance, or work in black neighborhoods.  Connor allowed white spectators to push forward, shouting, "Let those people come forward, sergeant.  Demonstrators were given instructions to march to the downtown area, to meet with the Mayor, and integrate the chosen buildings. (2008). King was released on April 20, 1963. Organizers believed their phones were tapped, so to prevent their plans from being leaked and perhaps influencing the mayoral election, they used code words for demonstrations. Two days after King and Shuttlesworth announced the settlement in Birmingham, Medgar Evers of the NAACP in Jackson, Mississippi demanded a biracial committee to address concerns there.  According to Time magazine in 1958, the only thing white workers had to gain from desegregation was more competition from black workers. " Walker called the Birmingham campaign and the Selma marches "Siamese twins" joining to "kill segregation ... and bury the body". The result, however, was a black community more motivated to resist. After initiating the idea he organized and educated the students in nonviolence tactics and philosophy.  More than 600 students were arrested; the youngest of these was reported to be eight years old. The young Dan Rather reported for CBS News. " Although Wyatt Tee Walker was initially against the use of children in the demonstrations, he responded to criticism by saying, "Negro children will get a better education in five days in jail than in five months in a segregated school. " After several business owners in Birmingham took down "white only" and "colored only" signs, Commissioner Connor told business owners that if they did not obey the segregation ordinances, they would lose their business licenses.  Connor was so antagonistic towards the Civil Rights Movement that his actions galvanized support for black Americans. People Associated with the Civil Rights Movement, Locations Associated with the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham. ... Two young protesters try to avoid the blast of a fire hose during a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama on May 7, 1963. When Gaston looked out the window and saw the children being hit with high-pressure water, he said, "Lawyer Vann, I can't talk to you now or ever. freedom.  They claimed on a technicality that their terms not expire until 1965 instead of in the spring of 1963. James Bevel borrowed a bullhorn from the police and shouted, "Everybody get off this corner. James Bevel wove in and out of the crowds warning them, "If any cops get hurt, we're going to lose this fight. Pastors urged their congregations to avoid shopping in Birmingham stores in the downtown district. It responded to eight politically moderate white clergymen who accused King of agitating local residents and not giving the incoming mayor a chance to make any changes.  The editor of The Birmingham News wired President Kennedy and pleaded with him to end the protests. "[a], A.G. Gaston, who was appalled at the idea of using children, was on the phone with white attorney David Vann trying to negotiate a resolution to the crisis. Some considered the use of children controversial, including incoming Birmingham mayor Albert Boutwell and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who condemned the decision to use children in the protests.  D Day called for students from Birmingham elementary schools and high schools as well as nearby Miles College to take part in the demonstrations.  A New York Times editorial called the behavior of the Birmingham police "a national disgrace.  The police harassed religious leaders and protest organizers by ticketing cars parked at mass meetings and entering the meetings in plainclothes to take notes. These goals included the desegregation of Birmingham's downtown stores, fair hiring practices in shops and city employment, the reopening of public parks, and the creation of a bi-racial committee to oversee the desegregation of Birmingham's public schools. The essay was a culmination of many of King's ideas, which he had touched on in earlier writings.  Wyatt Tee Walker, one of the SCLC founders and the executive director from 1960 to 1964, planned the tactics of the direct action protests, specifically targeting Bull Connor's tendency to react to demonstrations with violence: "My theory was that if we mounted a strong nonviolent movement, the opposition would surely do something to attract the media, and in turn induce national sympathy and attention to the everyday segregated circumstance of a person living in the Deep South. In Albany, they concentrated on the desegregation of the city as a whole. Police removed the barricades and re-opened the streets to traffic.  Comedian Dick Gregory and Barbara Deming, a writer for The Nation, were both arrested. I have to go help them", and hung up the phone. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, however, disagreed that the Birmingham campaign was the primary force behind the Civil Rights Act. In 1958, police arrested ministers organizing a bus boycott. " President Kennedy sent Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall to Birmingham to help negotiate a truce. Outgoing mayor Art Hanes left office after the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled that Albert Boutwell could take office on May 21, 1963. They were accepted in Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches but turned away at others, where they knelt and prayed until they were arrested. , The SCLC decided that economic pressure on Birmingham businesses would be more effective than pressure on politicians, a lesson learned in Albany as few black citizens were registered to vote in 1962. Birmingham's government was set up in such a way that it gave Connor powerful influence. " In 1961, Connor delayed sending police to intervene when Freedom Riders were beaten by local mobs.  To re-energize the campaign, SCLC organizer James Bevel devised a controversial alternative plan he named D Day that was later called the "Children's Crusade" by Newsweek magazine. He's helped it as much as Abraham Lincoln.  When they continued, Connor ordered the city's fire hoses, set at a level that would peel bark off a tree or separate bricks from mortar, to be turned on the children. In 1965 Shuttlesworth assisted Bevel, King, and the SCLC to lead the Selma to Montgomery marches, intended to increase voter registration among black citizens. For six weeks supporters of the boycott patrolled the downtown area to make sure black shoppers were not patronizing stores that promoted or tolerated segregation.  White religious leaders denounced King and the other organizers, saying that "a cause should be pressed in the courts and the negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets". Some SCLC members grew frustrated with his indecisiveness. Isserman, Maurice, Kazin, Michael. On the night of May 11, a bomb heavily damaged the Gaston Motel where King had been staying—and had left only hours before—and another damaged the house of A. D. King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s brother. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BRCI) is a modern museum that serves as a connection to the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, a collection of sites important to the Civil Rights Movement. , Martin Luther King Jr. was held in the Birmingham jail and was denied a consultation with an attorney from the NAACP without guards present. In Birmingham, SNYC experienced both successes and failures, as well as arrests and official violence. Civil rights protestors are attacked with a water cannon. If black shoppers were found in these stores, organizers confronted them and shamed them into participating in the boycott. Children left the churches while singing hymns and "freedom songs" such as "We Shall Overcome". She rolled down the window and shouted to the children, "I'm with you all the way!  A few years later, Birmingham's black population began to organize to effect change. Birmingham, JFK, and the Civil Rights Act of 1963: Implications For Elite Theory. Some white spectators at a sit-in at a Woolworth's lunch counter spat upon the participants. Protest organizers disagreed, saying that business leaders were positioned to pressure political leaders.. , Martin Luther King Jr.'s presence in Birmingham was not welcomed by all in the black community. " Malcolm X criticized the decision, saying, "Real men don't put their children on the firing line. Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham Board of Education, Armstrong v. Birmingham Board of Education, Smith v. Young Men's Christian Association, University of Alabama desegregation crisis, Tuskegee High School desegregation crisis, banned the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, "Children have changed America before, braving fire hoses and police dogs for civil rights", "Birmingham: Integration's Hottest Crucible", "Twenty Conservative Rabbis Fly to Birmingham to Back Negro Demands", "Gary T. Rowe Jr., 64, Who Informed on Klan In Civil Rights Killing, Is Dead", Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution, My Soul Is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered, A Film on the Letter from Birmingham Jail, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, John F. Kennedy's speech to the nation on Civil Rights, Chicago Freedom Movement/Chicago open housing movement, Green v. County School Board of New Kent County, Council for United Civil Rights Leadership, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, List of lynching victims in the United States, Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. , The reputation of Martin Luther King Jr. soared after the protests in Birmingham, and he was lauded by many as a hero. The Department of Justice is looking at Birmingham. (2000), This page was last edited on 15 January 2021, at 19:18. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin ordered the removal of a monument in Linn Park, stating the fine was less costly than continued civil unrest.  FBI informant Gary Thomas Rowe was hired to infiltrate the KKK and monitor their activities and plans. " With Abernathy, King was among 50 Birmingham residents ranging in age from 15 to 81 years who were arrested on Good Friday, April 12, 1963.  Similar reactions were reported by Kentucky Senator Sherman Cooper, and Oregon Senator Wayne Morse, who compared Birmingham to South Africa under apartheid. The president told her she could expect a call from her husband soon. I am ready to go to jail, are you? On May 2, 1963, 7th grader Gwendolyn Sanders helped organize her classmates, and hundreds of kids from high schoolers down to first graders who joined her in a massive walkout defying the principal of Parker High School who attempted to lock the gates to keep students inside. In addition to the daily work of the campaign that occurred at the motel, several key events of the campaign publicly unfolded at the property. Birmingham's black radio station, WENN, supported the new plan by telling students to arrive at the demonstration meeting place with a toothbrush to be used in jail. King's supporters sent telegrams about his arrest to the White House. He had been organizing demonstrations similar to those in Birmingham to pressure Jackson's city government. Shuttlesworth and King had announced that desegregation would take place 90 days from May 15.  Rowe was involved, along with the Birmingham Police, with the KKK attacks on the Freedom Riders, led by Fred Shuttlesworth, in Anniston, Alabama on May 14, 1961.  Although the city's population of almost 350,000 was 60% white and 40% black, Birmingham had no black police officers, firefighters, sales clerks in department stores, bus drivers, bank tellers, or store cashiers.  The average income for black employees in the city was less than half that of white employees. King and the SCLC were criticized by some for ending the campaign with promises that were too vague and "settling for a lot less than even moderate demands". , In addition, Birmingham's economy was stagnating as the city was shifting from blue collar to white collar jobs. He had, however, previously promised to lead the marchers to jail in solidarity, but hesitated as the planned date arrived. Significantly lower pay scales for black workers at the local steel mills were common. After Alabama banned the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1956, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth formed the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) the same year to challenge the city's segregation policies through lawsuits and protests. They caused downtown business to decline by as much as 40 percent, which attracted attention from Chamber of Commerce president Sidney Smyer, who commented that the "racial incidents have given us a black eye that we'll be a long time trying to forget". I want 'em to see the dogs work. The struggle for equality is illustrated by places like the A.G. Gaston Motel, located throughout Birmingham, where civil rights activists organized, protested, and clashed with segregationists. When one black woman entered Loveman's department store to buy her children Easter shoes, a white saleswoman said to her, "Negro, ain't you ashamed of yourself, your people out there on the street getting put in jail and you in here spending money and I'm not going to sell you any, you'll have to go some other place.  King and the SCLC had obeyed court injunctions in their Albany protests and reasoned that obeying them contributed to the Albany campaign's lack of success. , Bevel and the SCLC held workshops to help students overcome their fear of dogs and jails.  The Civil Rights Act applied to the entire nation, prohibiting racial discrimination in employment and in access to public places. , When Connor realized that the Birmingham jail was full, on May 3 he changed police tactics to keep protesters out of the downtown business area. He then trained and directed high school, college, and elementary school students in nonviolence, and asked them to participate in the demonstrations by taking a peaceful walk 50 at a time from the 16th Street Baptist Church to City Hall in order to talk to the mayor about segregation. The Montgomery bus boycott began a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience to protest segregation that attracted national and international attention. Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., Inc. v. CBS, Inc. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, San Francisco. Recently Updated  The car of Fannie Flagg, a local television personality and recent Miss Alabama finalist, was surrounded by teenagers who recognized her. Media coverage of the use of fire hoses and attack dogs against protesters and bombings and riots in Birmingham compelled Kennedy to act, sending a civil rights bill to Congress. Are you ready, are you ready to make the challenge?  Seventy members of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce pleaded with the protest organizers to stop the actions. A local black attorney complained in Time that the new city administration did not have enough time to confer with the various groups invested in changing the city's segregation policies.  The Citizens for Progress was backed by the Chamber of Commerce and other white professionals in the city, and their tactics were successful.  Several days later, Jacqueline Kennedy called Coretta Scott King to express her concern for King while he was incarcerated.. King hesitated to approve the use of children, but Bevel believed that children were appropriate for the demonstrations because jail time for them would not hurt families economically as much as the loss of a working parent. Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images. " Six hundred picketers reached downtown Birmingham.  White business leaders met with protest organizers to try and arrange an economic solution but said they had no control over politics. " Despite the apparent lack of immediate local success after the Birmingham campaign, Fred Shuttlesworth and Wyatt Tee Walker pointed to its influence on national affairs as its true impact. Title. When no squad cars were left to block the city streets, Connor, whose authority extended to the fire department, used fire trucks. In 1963, images of snarling police dogs unleashed against non-violent protesters and of children being sprayed with high-pressure hoses appeared in print and television news around the world. He could have been released on bail at any time, and jail administrators wished him to be released as soon as possible to avoid the media attention while King was in custody. Streets, sidewalks, stores, and buildings were overwhelmed with more than 3,000 protesters. , Four months after the Birmingham campaign settlement, someone bombed the house of NAACP attorney Arthur Shores, injuring his wife in the attack. Marching in disciplined ranks, some of them using walkie-talkies, they were sent at timed intervals from various churches to the downtown business area. To build morale and to recruit volunteers to go to jail, Ralph Abernathy spoke at a mass meeting of Birmingham's black citizens at the 6th Avenue Baptist Church: "The eyes of the world are on Birmingham tonight. Photograph: Getty Images In the US in May, events in Birmingham were transformative. After being filibustered for 75 days by "diehard southerners" in Congress, it was passed into law in 1964 and signed by President Lyndon Johnson. Peter Lang Publishing. Martin Luther King Jr. and the SCLC drew both criticism and praise for allowing children to participate and put themselves in harm's way. When the campaign ran low on adult volunteers, James Bevel thought of the idea of having students become the main demonstrators in the Birmingham campaign. The day's arrests brought the total number of jailed protesters to 1,200 in the 900-capacity Birmingham jail. When the officer pointed the way, the students ran across Kelly Ingram Park shouting, "We're going to jail! President John F. Kennedy later said of him, "The Civil Rights Movement should thank God for Bull Connor. Wilkins gave credit to other movements, such as the Freedom Rides, the integration of the University of Mississippi, and campaigns to end public school segregation. Also visible throughout the city are African American institutions and businesses that knit together Birmingham’s black community and laid a critical foundation for the fight for civil and political rights.  In addition, although Connor had used police dogs to assist in the arrest of demonstrators, this did not attract the media attention that organizers had hoped for. Bevel found girls more receptive to his ideas because they had less experience as victims of white violence.  Not all of the bystanders were peaceful, despite the avowed intentions of SCLC to hold a completely nonviolent walk, but the students held to the nonviolent premise. " Commissioner Connor was overheard saying, "If you'd ask half of them what freedom means, they couldn't tell you.  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