Causes – In January 1963, Martin Luther King announced that he would lead a demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama. He chose Birmingham specifically as it was one of the most segregated cities in the USA. It was notorious for police brutality and the local Ku Klux Klan was one of the most violent.
Why did King target Birmingham?
Why did Martin Luther King target Birmingham, Alabama for a civil rights campaign? Because it was considered the most segregated city in the South. The members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) believed that direct, nonviolent methods could gain civil rights for African Americans.
Why was Birmingham so important to the civil rights movement?
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument Will Preserve Pivotal Sites from America’s Civil Rights History In the 1960s, Birmingham, Alabama, was one of the most segregated places in the United States. Nonviolent protesters suffered brutal mistreatment in the struggle for equality and ultimately changed the course of history. Blog Post Birmingham was once the nation’s most segregated city, home to brutal, racially motivated violence. Today, a new national park site commemorates the critical civil rights history that happened here. See more › So wrote Martin Luther King, Jr., in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in April 1963.
Ing wrote these words in the margins of a newspaper while serving solitary confinement after his arrest at one of the many historic nonviolent protests, known as “Project C,” that he and local Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights helped to lead. On January 12, 2017, the country honored the legacy of these historic protests with a new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.
This national park site will tell the story of the struggle for freedom in this city, and how the actions of determined citizens became the focus of world attention and led to victories in fair employment practices and racial integration at lunch counters, restrooms and drinking fountains.
Day after day, hundreds of marchers took to the streets to take a stand against race-based injustice in the city. Police and firemen violently disrupted these protests and attacked participants with night sticks, dogs, tear gas and water cannons. After police had arrested dozens of adult protesters, hundreds of school-aged youth began participating in nonviolent marches, enduring similar violence and arrests.
The protests gained national attention and eventually ended segregation at city restrooms, drinking fountains and lunch counters and removed barriers to African American employment at city stores. These sites in Birmingham represent a time in the civil rights movement when a group of determined citizens stood firm in the fight for equality and human dignity. Google Maps A map of four of the key sites that could be become part of the proposed Birmingham Civil Rights National Historical Park. See more › The national park site includes portions of the Historic Birmingham Civil Rights District, including:
A.G. Gaston Motel. Opened in 1954, this motel was considered a historic monument to black entrepreneurship in a time of racial segregation, and was owned by Arthur George Gaston, a prominent African-American businessman. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Serving more than 140,000 individuals each year, the institute opened its doors in 1992 as a hub for children, students, adults and scholars, encouraging new generations of people to examine our country’s civil rights history as well as broader subjects such as equality and race. 16th Street Baptist Church. This church was the target of a bombing in September 1963 that killed four African-American children, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Caroline Robinson and Cynthia Wesley, who were attending Bible study. This act of domestic terrorism became a galvanizing force for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kelly Ingram Park. Civil rights protesters gathered in this park for marches. Many of the April and May 1963 protests were violently disrupted by police here.
The monument will also include other contributing sites, such as the Colored Masonic Temple, St. Paul United Methodist Church and elements of the 4th Avenue Business District. The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument has strong public support, both in the community and in Congress, and we thank the thousands of NPCA advocates who spoke out in favor of this momentous designation so that the history that happened here will be remembered for years to come.
Why was the march on Birmingham important?
In April 1963 King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) joined with Birmingham, Alabama’s existing local movement, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR), in a massive direct action campaign to attack the city’s segregation system by putting pressure on Birmingham’s merchants during the Easter season, the second biggest shopping season of the year.
As ACMHR founder Fred Shuttlesworth stated in the group’s ” Birmingham Manifesto, ” the campaign was ” a moral witness to give our community a chance to survive ” (ACMHR, 3 April 1963). The campaign was originally scheduled to begin in early March 1963, but was postponed until 2 April when the relatively moderate Albert Boutwell defeated Birmingham’s segregationist commissioner of public safety, Eugene ” Bull ” Connor, in a run-off mayoral election.
On 3 April the desegregation campaign was launched with a series of mass meetings, direct actions, lunch counter sit-ins, marches on City Hall, and a boycott of downtown merchants. King spoke to black citizens about the philosophy of nonviolence and its methods, and extended appeals for volunteers at the end of the mass meetings.
With the number of volunteers increasing daily, actions soon expanded to kneel-ins at churches, sit-ins at the library, and a march on the county building to register voters. Hundreds were arrested. On 10 April the city government obtained a state circuit court injunction against the protests. After heavy debate, campaign leaders decided to disobey the court order.
King declared: ” We cannot in all good conscience obey such an injunction which is an unjust, undemocratic and unconstitutional misuse of the legal process ” (ACMHR, 11 April 1963). Plans to continue to submit to arrest were threatened, however, because the money available for cash bonds was depleted, so leaders could no longer guarantee that arrested protesters would be released.
Ing contemplated whether he and Ralph Abernathy should be arrested. Given the lack of bail funds, King’s services as a fundraiser were desperately needed, but King also worried that his failure to submit to arrests might undermine his credibility. King concluded that he must risk going to jail in Birmingham.
He told his colleagues: ” I don’t know what will happen; I don’t know where the money will come from. But I have to make a faith act ” (King, 73). On Good Friday, 12 April, King was arrested in Birmingham after violating the anti-protest injunction and was kept in solitary confinement.
During this time King penned the ” Letter from Birmingham Jail ” on the margins of the Birmingham News, in reaction to a statement published in that newspaper by eight Birmingham clergymen condemning the protests. King’s request to call his wife, Coretta Scott King, who was at home in Atlanta recovering from the birth of their fourth child, was denied.
After she communicated her concern to the Kennedy administration, Birmingham officials permitted King to call home. Bail money was made available, and he was released on 20 April 1963. In order to sustain the campaign, SCLC organizer James Bevel proposed using young children in demonstrations.
- Bevel’s rationale for the Children’s Crusade was that young people represented an untapped source of freedom fighters without the prohibitive responsibilities of older activists.
- On 2 May more than 1,000 African American students attempted to march into downtown Birmingham, and hundreds were arrested.
When hundreds more gathered the following day, Commissioner Connor directed local police and fire departments to use force to halt the demonstrations. During the next few days images of children being blasted by high-pressure fire hoses, clubbed by police officers, and attacked by police dogs appeared on television and in newspapers, triggering international outrage.
While leading a group of child marchers, Shuttlesworth himself was hit with the full force of a fire hose and had to be hospitalized. King offered encouragement to parents of the young protesters: ” Don’t worry about your children, they’re going to be alright. Don’t hold them back if they want to go to jail.
For they are doing a job for not only themselves, but for all of America and for all mankind ” (King, 6 May 1963). In the meantime, the white business structure was weakening under adverse publicity and the unexpected decline in business due to the boycott, but many business owners and city officials were reluctant to negotiate with the protesters.
- With national pressure on the White House also mounting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent Burke Marshall, his chief civil rights assistant, to facilitate negotiations between prominent black citizens and representatives of Birmingham’s Senior Citizen’s Council, the city’s business leadership.
- The Senior Citizen’s Council sought a moratorium on street protests as an act of good faith before any final settlement was declared, and Marshall encouraged campaign leaders to halt demonstrations, accept an interim compromise that would provide partial success, and negotiate the rest of their demands afterward.
Some black negotiators were open to the idea, and although the hospitalized Shuttlesworth was not present at the negotiations, on 8 May King told the negotiators he would accept the compromise and call the demonstrations to a halt. When Shuttlesworth learned that King intended to announce a moratorium he was furious—about both the decision to ease pressure off white business owners and the fact that he, as the acknowledged leader of the local movement, had not been consulted.
Feeling betrayed, Shuttlesworth reminded King that he could not legitimately speak for the black population of Birmingham on his own: ” Go ahead and call it off When I see it on TV, that you have called it off, I will get up out of this, my sickbed, with what little ounce of strength I have, and lead them back into the street.
And your name’ll be Mud ” (Hampton and Fayer, 136). King made the announcement anyway, but indicated that demonstrations might be resumed if negotiations did not resolve the situation shortly. By 10 May negotiators had reached an agreement, and despite his falling out with King, Shuttlesworth joined him and Abernathy to read the prepared statement that detailed the compromise: the removal of ” Whites Only ” and ” Blacks Only ” signs in restrooms and on drinking fountains, a plan to desegregate lunch counters, an ongoing ” program of upgrading Negro employment, ” the formation of a biracial committee to monitor the progress of the agreement, and the release of jailed protesters on bond ( ” The Birmingham Truce Agreement, ” 10 May 1963).
- Birmingham segregationists responded to the agreement with a series of violent attacks.
- That night an explosive went off near the Gaston Motel room where King and SCLC leaders had previously stayed, and the next day the home of King’s brother Alfred Daniel King was bombed.
- President John F.
- Ennedy responded by ordering 3,000 federal troops into position near Birmingham and making preparations to federalize the Alabama National Guard.
Four months later, on 15 September, Ku Klux Klan members bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing four young girls. King delivered the eulogy at the 18 September joint funeral of three of the victims, preaching that the girls were ” the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity” (King, ” Eulogy for the Martyred Children,” 18 September 1963).
What happened to Martin Luther King Jr at Birmingham?
Bull Connor Orders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dozens More Civil Rights Marchers Violently Arrested in Birmingham – On April 12, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and at least 55 others, almost all of whom were Black, were jailed for “parading without a permit” during a march against segregation in Birmingham, Alabama.
- A crowd of over 1,000 activists joined Dr.
- Ing, the Rev.
- Fred Shuttlesworth, and the Rev.
- Ralph Abernathy on a non-violent march toward the downtown area as hundreds more people lined the streets to support them.
- The peaceful marchers, embarking from Sixth Avenue Zion Hill Church in a predominantly Black neighborhood and headed for City Hall, met a first police barricade and continued on in a different direction.
When the marchers neared a second police barricade, Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor gave the officers clear orders: “Stop them Don’t let them go any further!” Connor was a notorious segregationist with close ties to the Ku Klux Klan. At his command, several motorcycle patrolmen surrounded the crowd of peaceful marchers and began violent mass arrests.
Police officers arrested Dr. King and the Rev. Abernathy first, then continued grabbing and hitting the marchers. At least 54 more people were arrested that day, including the Rev. Shuttlesworth. The arrested marchers were charged with violating an injunction barring “racial protests” in Birmingham. City officials had obtained the injunction from a circuit judge earlier that same week, after arguing that civil rights protests attracted violence—even though the protests were always explicitly non-violent, and the violence that did occur was regularly wielded by police targeting the demonstrating activists.
Throughout activists’ 1963 Birmingham campaign to challenge racial segregation, the entire world witnessed the police’s brutal treatment of nonviolent activists through newspaper photographs and televised footage depicting demonstrators being bitten by dogs, beaten by officers, and slammed into walls by fire hoses.
Dr. King and others were held in the Birmingham Jail for several days after their arrest, while allies worked to raise money for bail. During this time, Dr. King drafted his famous ” Letter from a Birmingham Jail ” in response to a joint letter several white ministers had published in the local press that decried the march and civil rights activists’ methods.
“For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!'” Dr. King wrote. “It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.'” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied.’ We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights.
we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes.
It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative. Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro.
- Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained.
- Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice.
If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. Dr. King was released on bond on April 20, 1963, but continued his work as a civil rights leader until he was assassinated five years later.
- Most white Americans, especially in the South, supported segregation and opposed the civil rights activism that Dr.
- Ing and many others waged against it.
- As civil rights advocates began to win important judicial and legislative victories, white Americans implemented a strategy of massive resistance, deploying a range of tactics and weapons to discourage activism and slow the tide of progress.
Some of these methods, such as criminalizing, arresting, and imprisoning peaceful protestors, foreshadowed the modern mass incarceration era. Other methods, such as bombing and murdering civil rights activists, used lethal violence to maintain white supremacy just as white mobs had used lynching throughout the era of racial terror.
What is significant about Birmingham in 1963?
In 1963 the world turned its attention to Birmingham, Alabama as peaceful civil rights demonstrators faced police dogs and fire hoses in a battle for freedom and equality. Later that year four girls died in the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.
Why is Alabama important in Dr King’s life?
The younger King moved to Alabama in 1954 to pastor the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, beginning a rise to national prominence that would make the minister, philosopher and social activist America’s most significant civil rights leader.
What did Martin Luther King do in Alabama?
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of several civil right leaders and organizations to call for a national economic boycott of Alabama in 1965. The boycott was designed to protest Jim Crow laws that blocked Black Americans from voting and pressure then-Gov. George Wallace into guaranteeing the right to vote in his state.
Why did people riot in Birmingham?
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Birmingham riot of 1963|
|Part of the Civil Rights Movement|
|Location||Birmingham, Alabama, United States|
|Date||May 11, 1963|
|Perpetrators||Ku Klux Klan (alleged)|
The Birmingham riot of 1963 was a civil disorder and riot in Birmingham, Alabama, that was provoked by bombings on the night of May 11, 1963. The bombings targeted African-American leaders of the Birmingham campaign, In response, local African-Americans burned businesses and fought police throughout the downtown area.
The places bombed were the parsonage of Rev.A.D. King, brother of Martin Luther King Jr., and a motel owned by A.G. Gaston, where King and others organizing the campaign had stayed. It is believed that the bombings were carried out by members of the Ku Klux Klan, in cooperation with Birmingham police,
Civil rights protesters were frustrated with local police complicity with the perpetrators of the bombings, and grew frustrated at the non-violence strategy directed by King. Initially starting as a protest, violence escalated following local police intervention.
The federal government intervened with federal troops for the first time to control violence during a largely African-American riot, It was also a rare instance of domestic military deployment independent of enforcing a court injunction, an action which was considered controversial by Governor George Wallace and other Alabama whites.
The African-American response was a pivotal event that contributed to President Kennedy’s decision to propose a major civil rights bill. It was ultimately passed under President Lyndon B. Johnson as the Civil Rights Act of 1964,