The Success Of The Birmingham Movement

625 words - 3 pages

In a letter written from the Birmingham City Jail in 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. made the proclamation that Birmingham, Alabama was, “Probably the most segregated city in the United States”. Martin Luther King’s, Why We Can’t Wait, initially provides the argument for why African Americans were ready to seek equality in a part of the country whose roots were planted deeply into segregation. King stated in his introduction that “The war had been won but not at just peace. Equality had never arrived. Equality was a hundred years late (xiii). The anniversary of the 1863 emancipation proclamation reminded blacks that their freedom was merely a legal term, and that they were not yet truly free. This was King’s argument that the negros’ place in society, while unprepared for change, desperately needed reform. Through the course of the Birmingham civil rights movement King would be jailed, denied bail and attempts would ...view middle of the document...

There were messages being relayed about King to the white house and other official; the movement had reached a larger public eye. While small in terms of the effect on the movement itself, this was a win for the battle against segregation.
Further victories were seen upon King’s release from jail. With new drive, King promoted a more intensified movement of civil disobedience and non-violent resistance. Violence by city police and counter-protestors heightens; MLK details how demonstrators paraded against vicious dogs, fire hoses and police opposition, positioning Birmingham inflexibly in the national spotlight. With a tentative agreement to end segregation finally forged, White opposition returns before being defeated, leaving King to remark, "Once on a summer day, a dream came true. The city of Birmingham discovered a conscience" (128).
As the opposition raged on, more and more small victories were obtained. Most came in the form of demonstrations by young protestors. King chronicles the expulsion of thousands of student protestors from city schools by the Birmingham Board of Education, which could arguably be noted as a victory towards civil liberties in Birmingham, simply because of the amount of attention that was brought upon it. Gaining attention seems to be half the battle in King’s life of exposing and fighting civil injustice.
There would be repercussions to much of King’s boldness in the effort for civil rights in Birmingham. Once an agreement for the segregation of Birmingham had been drafted, the local Ku Klux Klansmen orchestrated an assassination attempt on MLK and created enough public scare to have involved the National Guard. All things considered, King’s efforts and victories greatly outweighed any level of resistance he could have encountered, as the effects are now seen today. Through the precedents set in the movement, King saw a great shift in the masses of those who were willing and able to rise to the occasion and seek equality among all races. For these reasons, King would surely have called the Birmingham movement a great success, with good reason to do so.

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