Skip to comments.You Me And Martin Luther King (Birmingham Plus 50)
Posted on 04/30/2013 5:43:33 AM PDT by Nextrush
Southern Christian Leadership Conference Executive Director Wyatt Walker called it "Project C" for confrontation.
After a failed campaign of civil disobedience in Albany, Georgia the year before, Dr. Martin Luther King planned a new better planned campaign in Birmingham for the spring of 1963.
There was a sense of hope in the air on Wednesday April 3rd. A "new era" was being hailed in Birmingham with the 8-thousand vote victory for white reformers who intended to change the city's commission form of government with a strong mayor and city council.
The business leaders of Birmingham had engineered the campaign to improve the city's tarnished image from the violence perpetrated against civil rights protests in 1961. They were personally embarrassed by the news coverage while they were in Japan trying to drum up commerce for the city.
Martin Luther King deliberately waited until after the election so Connor would not be able to use any protest to help his election campaign.
Local civil rights leader Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth told King he expected a tough response from Connor.
Dr. King found a few volunteers at first, only two dozen or so people ventured into four segregated (white only) lunch counters to violate the law with sit-ins on April 3rd. The first arrests were made.
That night a mass rally was held and 75 volunteers came forward to face arrest.
The intital pace of the protest was slow with many in Birmingham's black community unconvinced of its neccessity. They felt the election results would change things in Birmingham.
Dr. King's demands in connection with the protests included integration of department store facilities, hiring of black sales clerks by those stores and equal employment opportunities in city government.
Protests and arrests continued slowly with MLK trying to overcome resistance in the black community.
On April 10th Connor deployed dogs. When a protestor lunged at the dog with a knife he was attacked. Other dogs and policemen with clubs attacked the protestors and bystanders. The Birmingham protests now became a national news story.
Early on Thursday April 11th a local judges order was served on MLK and other protest leaders barring all marches or other protests.
King vowed to lead a procession to City Hall on Good Friday April 12th. He had also been vowing to reporters and mass meetings in Birmingham that he would himself be arrested.
MLK and fifty some protestors began their trek in the afternoon of April 12th. They were met by a squad of police who arrested Dr. King. A picture of him being led into a police wagon was published around the world.
Contact was made with Kennedy Administration officials and Attorney General Robert Kennedy told Mrs. Coretta King that the Justice Department would make inquiries regarding MLK.
On Sunday April 14th Bull Connor personally prevented lawyers from seeing MLK in jail. King had been put in solitary confinement by Connor.
The next day, President Kennedy called Mrs. King to express his concern about her husband's imprisonment and to tell her that he would call in the next 30 minutes from jail.
When MLK was told by his wife about Kennedy's call, he told her to notify other leaders about it and they announced it to the press.
The Birmingham protests had now become a major news event.
I’m doing these posts on the 50th Anniversary of the Birmingham protest movement, the ultimate and pivotal act of civil disobedience by the civil rights movement.
There’s been talk in these forums about civil disobedience so I thought some articles about it were in order.