Birmingham, Alabama 1963

The video below describes non-violent protests in Birmingham, Alabama.

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.

Birmingham was probably best summed up by the Governor, George Wallace who said, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.

Events

The demonstration started on 2 May 1963. School children were placed at the front of the march as television footage of children being arrested for protesting peacefully would embarrass the Birmingham Police.

However, the Police Chief, Eugene 'Bull' Connor ordered the arrest of over 900 children between the ages of 6 and 18.

The next day Connor ordered water cannons and dogs to be used on the marchers.

By the third day, many police and fire service men refused to attack the protesters as they saw how they were being portrayed in the media.

By the fourth day of the protest both sides were having second thoughts. King was worried about the safety of the demonstrators, while local businessmen were concerned about the negative publicity and the drop in trade.

Impact

An agreement was reached - in exchange for stopping the protest it was agreed that lunch counters, rest rooms and drinking fountains would be desegregated within ninety days.

The video below looks at an interview with Martin Luther King about desegregation in Birmingham, Alabama 1963.