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Encyclopedia > Birmingham campaign

The Albany movement proved to be an important education for the SCLC, however, when it undertook the Birmingham campaign in 1963. The campaign focused on one concrete goal—the desegregation of Birmingham's downtown merchants—rather than total desegregation, as in Albany. It was also helped by the brutal response of local authorities, in particular Eugene "Bull" Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety who had lost a recent election for mayor to a less rapidly segregationist candidate, but refused to accept the new mayor's authority. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... Image File history File links Wiki_letter_w. ... The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (first known as Southern Negro Leaders Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration) is a civil rights organization founded in January 1957 by Martin Luther King Jr. ... 1963 (MCMLXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (the link is to a full 1963 calendar). ... Desegregation is the process of ending racial segregation, most commonly used in reference to the United States. ... Theophilus Eugene Bull Connor (11 July 1897 – 10 March 1973) was a police official in the Southern United States during the American Civil Rights Movement and a staunch advocate of racial segregation. ... Racial segregation is a kind of formalized or institutionalized discrimination on the basis of race, characterized by the races separation from each other. ...

The campaign used a variety of nonviolent methods of confrontation, including sit-ins, kneel-ins at local churches, and a march to the county building to mark the beginning of a drive to register voters. The City, however, obtained an injunction barring all such protests. Convinced that the order was unconstitutional, the campaign defied it and prepared for mass arrests of its supporters. King elected to be among those arrested on April 12, 1963. Look up Injunction in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... April 12 is the 102nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (103rd in leap years). ... 1963 (MCMLXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (the link is to a full 1963 calendar). ...

While in jail, King wrote his famous (April 16) Letter from Birmingham Jail on the margins of a newspaper, since he had not been allowed any writing paper while held in solitary confinement by jail authorities. Supporters pressured the Kennedy administration to intervene to obtain his release or better conditions. King eventually was allowed to call his wife, who was recuperating at home after the birth of their fourth child, and was released on April 19. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, Ph. ... April 16 is the 106th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (107th in leap years). ... Martin Luther King Jr The Letter from Birmingham Jail or Letter from Birmingham City Jail, commonly but incorrectly rendered Letter from a Birmingham Jail, was an open letter on April 16, 1963 written by Martin Luther King, Jr. ... John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), also referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK, John Kennedy or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. ... April 19 is the 109th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (110th in leap years). ...

The campaign, however, was faltering at this time, as the movement was running out of demonstrators willing to risk arrest. SCLC organizers came up with a bold and controversial alternative, calling on high school students to take part in the demonstrators. When more than a thousand students left school on May 2 to join the demonstrations, more than six hundred ended up in jail, this was newsworthy but with this first encounter the police acted with restraint. On the next day however another thousand students gathered at the church and Bull Connor unleashed police dogs on them, then turned the city's fire hoses, set at a level that would peel bark off a tree or separate bricks from mortar, on the children. Television cameras broadcast the scenes of fire hoses knocking down schoolchildren and dogs attacking individual demonstrators, with no means of protecting themselves, to the nation. May 2 is the 122nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (123rd in leap years). ...

Widespread public outrage forced the Kennedy administration to intervene more forcefully in the negotiations between the white business community and the SCLC. On May 10, the parties announced an agreement to desegregate the lunch counters and other public accommodations downtown, to create a committee to eliminate discriminatory hiring practices, to arrange for the release of jailed protesters, and to establish regular means of communication between black and white leaders. May 10 is the 130th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (131st in leap years). ...

Not everyone in the black community approved of the agreement—Fred Shuttlesworth was particularly critical, since he had accumulated a great deal of skepticism about the good faith of Birmingham's power structure from his experience in dealing with them. The reaction from parts of the white community was even more violent. The Gaston Motel, which housed the SCLC's unofficial headquarters, was bombed, as was the home of King's brother, the Reverend A. D. King. Kennedy prepared to federalize the Alabama National Guard, but did not follow through. Four months later, on September 15, Klu Klux Klan members bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four young girls. Fred Shuttlesworth (b. ... Seal of the National Guard Bureau Seal of the Army National Guard Seal of the Air National Guard The United States National Guard is a significant component of the United States armed forces military reserve. ... The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a racially motivated terrorist incident at 16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States. ... The city from above Centenary Square. ...


  • Diane McWhorter, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution (2001; New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 2002). ISBN 0-7432-1772-1
  • Howell Raines. "My Soul Is Rested: Movement Days in the Deep South Remembered." (1977: New York: Putnam Publishing Group) ISBN 0399118535
  • Andrew M. Manis, "A Fire You Can't Put Out: he Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth." (1999: Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press) ISBN 0817309683
  • White, Marjorie Longenecker. A Walk to Freedom: The Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. (1998: Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Historical Society) ISBN 0943994241
  • Branch, Taylor. Parting The Waters; America In The King Years 1954-63. (1988: New York: Simon and Schuster) ISBN 0671460978



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