May 1963: Birmingham, Alabama

May 3, 1963. Photo by Charles Moore, Life magazine.


Tuesday, April 2
    Former Alabama Lieutenant Governor Albert Boutwell defeats Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor in a runoff for mayor of Birmingham. The election also changes Birmingham's government from a city commission to a mayor-council structure. The commissioners contest the result, setting off a weeks-long legal battle over who has authority in Birmingham.
* "Boutwell Wins Mayor Contest" (Tuscaloosa News): @

Wednesday, April 3
     The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights issues the Birmingham Manifesto, calling for, among other things, desegregation of downtown stores. It also signaled the beginning of sit-ins, boycotts and other actions.
* Manifesto (from The Martin Luther King Center for Nonviolent Social Change): @

Saturday, April 6

Caption: "Rev. Charles Billups, associate pastor of New Pilgrim Baptist Church, kneels in prayer alongside Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, pastor of Bethel Baptist of Collegeville as their march in April of 1963 is stopped in front of the Federal Courthouse on 3rd Avenue North." (The Birmingham News)

Friday, April 12
     The Revs. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy are arrested on charges of defying a ban on racial demonstrations. King begins writing "Letter from Birmingham Jail" the next day; he is released from jail on April 20.
* Earlier post on letter: @


Photo by Bob Adelman.

Thursday, May 2
     Beginning of "The Children's March," during which hundreds of Birmingham's young people skip school to join the demonstrations. Scores of students are arrested (The Birmingham News put the number at 319); the sheer number forces the city to use school buses for transport to jail.
* Children's Crusade (from MLK Research and Education Institute): @ and @
* "Juvenile Marchers Jailed" (Associated Press): @

Photos by Bill Hudson, Associated Press.

Friday, May 3
     Demonstrations continue. This time the marchers are met with fire hoses and police dogs, on orders from Bull Connor, left. (Photo by Bob Adelman)
* "Dogs and Hoses Repulse Negroes at Birmingham" (New York Times): @
* "Dogs, Fire Hoses Used to Disperse Negro Marchers" (St. Petersburg Times): @
* Negroes Vow 'Double D-Day' (Miami News): @
* Recording of Martin Luther King at mass meeting (date unknown, but he references dogs and fire hoses; from Southern Folklife Collection): @

Saturday, May 4
     From The Associated Press: "A taunting crowd of more than 1,000 Negroes defied policemen, dogs and high-velocity water hoses yesterday before their own leaders persuaded them to disperse." 
* "1,000 Negroes Defy 'Bama Police in Wild Protest" (Miami News): @

Sunday, May 5
     Hundreds take part in a blocks-long, peaceful "walk," followed by a mass prayer.
* "1,000 Pray as Police, Dogs Watch" (Youngstown Vindicator): @
* "Birmingham Holds Its Breath" (Miami News): @
* "Outrage in Alabama" (New York Times editorial, May 5): @

Photo by Bill Hudson, Associated Press.

Monday, May 6
     Hundreds more people, young and old alike, are arrested.
* "Alabama Children Jam Jails" (Miami News): @
* "Eyewitness: The Police Terror at Birmingham" (Len Holt, 1963): @

Tuesday, May 7
      Police again use fire hoses against protesters. The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a leader of the desegregation effort, is injured.
* "Thousands of Negroes Overwhelm Policemen" (St. Petersburg Times): @

Wednesday, May 8
     President Kennedy begins his news conference by saying that Birmingham merchants have "pledged that substantial steps would begin to meet the justifiable needs of the Negro community. Negro leaders have announced suspension of their demonstrations ..."
* Transcript (from American Presidency Project): @
* Audio (from John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum): @
* Related materials (briefing papers and transcripts, from JFK Library): @
* "Bama Races Agree To Truce" (Miami News): @

Thursday, May 9
*"Unsure Truce Holds as Birmingham Groups Seek Accord" (Youngstown Vindicator): @

Friday, May 10
     From The New York Times: "A full agreement on a limited desegation package plan apparently brought an end today to this city's five-week racial crisis. The accord commits white business and civic leaders, but not city officials, to pledges of action. ...
     The agreement provides for the following steps:
     * Desegregation of lunch counters, rest rooms, fitting rooms and drinking fountains in large, downtown department and variety stores within the next 90 days.
     * Promotion and hiring of Negroes on a nondiscriminatory basis in stories and industries, hiring of Negro clerks and salesmen within 60 days by the stories and appointment of a private fair employment committee.
     * Release of jailed Negro demonstrators on bond or on their personal recognizance.
     * Establishment of a biracial committee within two weeks.
     Negro leaders, meanwhile, were understood to be calling off a lengthy boycott of downtown stores."
* "Accord Reached for Birmingham" (Milwaukee Journal): @ 
* "Negro Victory: All Terms Met in Birmingham" (St. Petersburg Times): @
* The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth reads part of the agreement (video, from Civil Rights Digital Library): @

Photo of A.G. Gaston Motel by Marion Trikosko, U.S. News and World Report.

Saturday, May 11
    The home of the Rev. A.D. King (Martin Luther King's brother) is bombed, as is the A.G. Gaston Motel, headquarters for the leaders of the desegregation campaign. No one is injured in the explosions. Rioting ensues. 
* "50 Hurt in Negro Rioting After Birmingham Blasts" (New York Times): @
* "Heartbreaking Side to Racial Strife" (Associated Press): @

Sunday, May 12
     President Kennedy makes a radio-TV speech to the nation, condemning the bombings, appealing for calm and outlining further federal actions.
* Transcript (from American Presidency Project): @
* Audio (from JFK Library): @  
* Related materials (from JFK Library): @ and @

Monday, May 13:
     From United Press International: "An advance detail of federal forces set up headquarters today five blocks from a Negro section of Birmingham where a four-hour riot erupted Sunday morning."
* "Birmingham Quiet As Federal Troops Are Nearby On JFK Orders": @

Wednesday, May 15
* "Major Stores in Birmingham Deal in Gloom" (Scripps-Howard): @

Friday, May 17
     Charles Moore's photos from early May are published in Life magazine. 
* "They Fight A Fire That Won't Go Out" (Starting on Page 26): @
* "Freedom -- Now" (Time magazine): @

Caption from Corbis Images: "Birmingham, AL: Hundreds of students were on hand to greet Rev. Martin Luther King at the St. James Baptist Church, after it was learned that a federal judge, Elbert Tuttle of Atlanta, had enjoined the city from expelling the students for participating in demonstrations." (Photographer unknown.)

Wednesday, May 22
* "Schools ordered To Reinstate Negroes" (Hendersonville, N.C., Times-News): @

Thursday, May 23
     From United Press International: "(Mayor-elect Albert Boutwell) and nine city commissioners assumed office Thursday after the State Supreme Court ousted a hard-core segregationist board of three city commissioners who had refused to relinquish authority because of an apparent conflict in election laws."
* "Negro Leaders Voice Skepticism Over New City Government in Birmingham" (Rome News-Tribune): @


-- Summaries
* Birmingham Campaign of 1963 (from Encyclopedia of Alabama): @
* Birmingham Campaign (from Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute): @
* Birmingham -- The Children's Crusade (from Civil Rights Movement Veterans): @
* Project 'C' in Birmingham (from "Eyes on the Prize," PBS, 1987): @
* Birmingham Campaign (from Civil Rights Digital Library): @
* Remembering the Birmingham Campaign (from Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina): @
* The Birmingham Desegregation Campaign (from Amistad Digital Resource for Teaching African American History, Columbia University): @
* How A March By Children Ended Segregation in USA's Most Segregated Town (from Youth-LeadeR): @

-- Charles Moore, Bill Hudson, Bob Adelman
* "Powerful Days in Black and White" (Charles Moore photos, from Kodak.com): @
* "Charles Moore, Photographer Of The Civil Rights Movement, Dies At 79" (story and slideshow, NPR, 2010): @
* Story of Bill Hudson's May 3 photo (from iconicphotos.wordpress.com): @
* Bob Adelman's website: @
* "How Photography Shifted the Balance of the Civil Rights Movement" (Gizmodo, 2011): @
* "What the Still Photo Still Does Best" (New York Times, 2010): @

-- Photos
* From Birmingham News: @
* "Alabama, 1963: The Heart of Civil Rights in America" (New York Times): @
* From Civil Rights Movement Veterans: @

-- Videos
* "Mighty Times: The Children's March" (documentary, 2004): @
* "Birmingham Police's Brutal Response to Protesters" (from Real Clear History): @
* "Fill the Jails" (from democracynow.org): @
* "Segregation at All Costs: Bull Connor and the Civil Rights Movement": @
* Clip of Bull Connor, from mid-May (from NBC News): @
* JFK audiotapes (from NBC News): @
* "Breakthrough in Birmingham" (CBS, May 1963. Note: website dates the clip May 7; however, the footage includes President Kennedy's May 8 news conference, so it aired sometime after that): @
* From BBC's "Panorama" (broadcast May 13): @
* "First-Person Accounts from Birmingham Campaign" (C-SPAN, 2013): @

-- Newspapers
* Civil Rights Movement Scrapbooks (Volume 5, from Birmingham Public Library): @
* "Birmingham: Newspapers in a crisis" (Columbia Journalism Review, summer 1963): @
* Reporting Civil Rights (from Library of America): @

-- Books
* "Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution" (Diane McWhorter, 2001): @
* "But For Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle" (Glenn T. Eskew, 1997): @
* "A Fire You Can't Put Out: The Civil Rights Life of Birmingham's Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth" (Andrew M. Manis, 1999): @
* "The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement" (Taylor Branch, 2013): @; author's website: @
* "Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-1965" (Taylor Branch, 1998): @
* "The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr." (1998; Chapter 19): @
* "Why We Can't Wait" (Martin Luther King Jr., 1964): @
* "The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation" (Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, 2007): @
* "Seeing Through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography" (Martin A. Berger, 2011): @

-- For younger readers
* "When the Children Marched: The Birmingham Civil Rights Movement" (Robert H. Mayer, 2008): @ 
* "We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March" (Cynthia Levinson, 2012): @
* "Birmingham 1963: How a Photograph Rallied Civil Rights Support" (Shelley Tougas, 2011): @

-- Other resources
* Birmingham Civil Rights Institute: @
* The Struggle Continues (Birmingham Civil Rights Institute blog): @
* 50 Years Forward (city of Birmingham): @ 
* Kids in Birmingham 1963: @ 

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