The Sixties: Early Stirrings – The March in Birmingham, May, 1963 (13)

Filed in Uncategorized by on May 16, 2006 0 Comments

On May 2, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Reverend Abernathy and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth lead a protest march in Birmingham, Alabama.

At that time, Birmingham had been one of the most racially segregated cities in the U.S. 

The march was the culmination of several weeks' previous activities. The march and protest itself lasted several weeks, into most of May.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference helped organize the march, which consisted mainly of children less than 18 years of age.

One aim of the march was to fill the prisons with students in an effort to embarrass Birmingham city officials.

Protestors were met with policemen and dogs. Birmingham Police Chief Eugene "Bull" Connor arrested the student protestors; within days, the police attacked the protestors with Billy clubs, fire hoses and police dogs.

News of this on TV incited many Northerners to march.

Many who joined the march in Birmingham were beaten or killed.

King, Abernathy and Shuttlesworth were jailed.

King was held in solitary confinement for three days, during which time he wrote "Letter from Birmingham Jail", about the necessity of non-violence as resistance to unjust laws.

On May 4th, Chief Connor ordered police and firemen to forcefully instill order in the protestors, but the police and firemen refused.

Negotiations were under way for public facilities such as water fountains to be integrated within the next 90 days.

When the Ku Klux Klan heard of this impending integration, riots began.

The KKK firebombed the Gaston Motel where most protestors were staying, and President Kennedy was forced to call in federal troops to quell the riots and reinstate order.

This article is part of the ongoing series, "The Sixties", a series of vignettes that were in the news during the 1960s.

This series, "The Sixties" is published Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

About the Author ()

An article of mine, 'On Marriage, Life, Death and Remarriage' was published in "Blended Families (Social Issues Firsthand) by Greenhouse Press." An article of mine was referenced in this book: "Margaret Atwood: a reference guide" by Judith McComb

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