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by Syle

March on Birmingham

November 19, 2010 in 1960s-1970s, Social history

Charles Moore photo for Life Magazine of Young Protestors in Birmingham, Alabama, 3 May 1963In 1963 a movement led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and by Martin Luther King Jr. marched into Birmingham, Alabama. At the time Birmingham was known as one of the most, if not the most segregated cities in the southern states. There goal was to use non-violent demonstrations and make a stand to fight laws that were unfair to African Americans. The thinking was if they could successfully fight segregation in Birmingham, then it would help them fight it everywhere else.

I chose to write about the March on Birmingham, because as I learned more about it I was more amazed at how dedicated these people protesting were. They were, not surprisingly, met with police brutality led by one of the most famous supporters of segregation, Eugene “Bull” Connor. Police violently tried to discontinue these protests and sit-ins with jailings, beatings, police dogs, and even used fire hoses to break them up. The demonstrators did not retaliate however and continued to use their non violent demonstrations.

What also amazed me while learning about this, was not only how, but who was part of these demonstrations. Of course there were the leaders of the movement including Martin Luther King Jr. (who was also arrested here), but once in Birmingham they recruited students not only from high school but even from Elementary Schools. Young children participated in all of these movements and yet were still subject to the police brutality. They were however successful in their movement, by attracting much media attention and slowly began desegregation, and even resulted in Eugene “Bull” Connor losing his job.

*** for more on this topic, see…
We have a Movement” excerpt in Free At Last – The U.S. Civil Rights Movement, “America.gov,” U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs. Accessed 19 November 2010. http://www.america.gov/publications/books-content/free-at-last.html.

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