The Effects Of The Birmingham Campaign On Segregation In America

2065 words - 8 pages

Even the largest political movements when stripped to their bare fundamentals reveal a simple idea, image, or action. Likewise, the Civil Rights Movement began with an idea. An idea of an improved future; a future in which colored people could walk the streets of America beside people of other races without scorn and contempt. This future was realized by the city of Birmingham, Alabama. At the end of the 20th century, Birmingham was populated to such an extent with hatred and spite, Dr. Martin Luther King referred to it as “probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States” (King 2). Fueled with the vision of a better future, the African American community embarked on a sequence of violent and peaceful protests that would stretch from early April to late September 1963. Though beginning with a simple idea, this prolonged demonstration for human rights would eventually lead to the involvement of youth demonstrators in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, which in turn lead the accord of Birmingham to become a non-segregated city; forever imprinting itself on the novel of history.

During the 20th century, the pro-segregation laws in Birmingham, Alabama, not only divided schools and shops based on race, but parks, cemeteries, restaurants, and swimming pools as well (“Racial Strife” 191). As one visiting reporter stated, “Whites and blacks still walk the same streets. But the streets, the water supply, and the sewer system are about the only public facilities they share.” (Mayer 7). In mid-April, the rising tensions between the African American and Caucasian races led to a prolonged sequence of violent and peaceful protests, beginning on April 3rd and concluding in late September. Though Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights officer, Lola Hendricks, saw the head of police department, Eugene “Bull” Connor, to request a marching permit, the village refused, causing the demonstrators to march without. During the first inchoate protest, 65 total volunteers marched down the streets to various non-colored restaurants and cafés. There they sought service; however, the waitresses were all but affable, shutting the doors and dimming the lights at four of the diners. After five, Connor was called along with the officers from the police department were called arresting over 20 participants. Connor vowed that as long as he was in the City Hall, the villagers could rest assured he would fill up the jail with any city law violators. Throughout the protests, Dr. Martin Luther King and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth preached non-violence, yet nonetheless, some protests were accompanied by more violent movements, such as the throwing of bricks and bottles. After a series of additional illegal protests, King was arrested and sent to Birmingham Jail where he wrote one of his most famous written works, “A Letter from Birmingham Jail”, which addressed Birmingham clergymen, urging equal rights for all Birmingham citizens (King). After King’s arrest,...

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