martin Luther king Jr
In April 1963 martin Luther king Jr and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined with Birmingham, Alabama’s existing local movement, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights to have a direct campaign to confront the city’s segregation system by putting pressure on Birmingham’s second biggest shopping season of the year; the Easter season. Thiss campaign was originally scheduled to begin in early March of 1963, but got postponed to the second of April when the relatively moderate Albert Boutwell defeated Birmingham’s segregationist commissioner of public safety, Eugene ‘‘Bull” Connor, in a run-off mayoral election.
On the third of April the anti-segregation campaign was launched with a series of meetings, and lunch counter sit-ins, marches on City Hall, and a boycott of downtown merchants. King was an advocate on nonviolence protest and its methods. As thenumber of volunteers increasing daily, actions soon expanded to kneel-ins at churches, sit-ins at the library, and a march on the county building to register voters which caused hundreds of people to be arrested. On the tenth of April the city government obtained a state circuit court injunction against the protests. After heavy debate, campaign leaders decided to disobey the court order.
King stated that ‘‘We cannot in all good conscience obey such an injunction which is an unjust, undemocratic and unconstitutional misuse of the legal process”, on 11 April 1963. The protest were threatened because the money available for cash bonds was depleted, so leaders could no longer guarantee that arrested protestors would be released. King risk going to jail in Birmingham. He told his colleagues: ‘‘I don’t know what will happen; I don’t know where the money will come from. But I have to make a faith act”.
On Good Friday, 12 April, King was arrested in Birmingham after violating the anti-protest injunction and was kept in solitary confinement. During this time King penned the ‘‘Letter from Birmingham Jail” on the margins of the Birmingham News, in reaction to a statement published in that newspaper by eight Birmingham clergymen condemning the protests. King’s request to call his wife, Coretta Scott King, who was at home in Atlanta recovering from the birth of their fourth child, was denied. After she communicated her concern to the Kennedy administration, Birmingham officials permitted King to call home. Bail money was made available, and he was released on 20 April 1963.
On the second of May more than 1,000 African American students attempted to march into downtown Birmingham, and hundreds were arrested. When hundreds more gathered the following day, Commissioner Connor directed local police and fire departments to use force to halt the demonstrations. During the next few days images of children being blasted by high-pressure fire hoses, clubbed by police officers, and attacked by police dogs appeared on television and in newspapers, triggering international outrage. While leading a group of child marchers, Shuttlesworth himself was hit with the full force of a fire hose and had to be hospitalized. King offered encouragement to parents of the young protesters by stating ‘‘Don’t worry about your children, they’re going to be alright. Don’t hold them back if they want to go to jail.
For they are doing a job for not only themselves, but for all of America and for all mankind” 6 May 1963. As this proceeded white business structure was weakening under adverse publicity and the unexpected decline in business due to the boycott, but many business owners and city officials were reluctant to negotiate with the protestors. With national pressure on the White House also mounting, Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent Burke Marshall, his chief civil rights assistant, to facilitate negotiations between prominent black citizens and representatives of Birmingham’s Senior Citizens Council, the city’s business leadership. By 10 May negotiators had reached an agreement, and despite his falling out with King, Shuttlesworth joined him and Abernathy to read the prepared statement that detailed the compromise: the removal of Whites Only and Blacks Only signs in restrooms and on drinking fountains, a plan to desegregate lunch counters, an ongoing program of upgrading Negro employment, the formation of a biracial committee to monitor the progress of the agreement, and the release of jailed protestors. That night an explosive went off near the Gaston Motel room where King and SCLC leaders had previously stayed, and the next day the home of King’s brother Alfred Daniel King was bombed.
President John F. Kennedy responded by ordering 3,000 federal troops into position near Birmingham and making preparations to federalize the Alabama National Guard. Four months later, on 15 September, Ku Klux Klan members bombed Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing four young girls. King delivered the eulogy at the 18 September joint funeral of three of the victims, preaching that the girls were ‘‘the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity” 18 September 1963.