Alabama

“Don’t worry about your children; they are going to be alright. Don’t hold them back if they want to go to jail, for they are not only doing a job for themselves, but for all of America and for all of mankind.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. 9

 

 

Birmingham Protest Revival
April 1963

 

Alabama was a hub for the Civil Rights Movement. As you will see in many of the other marches, many were inspired to support Birmingham and carrying their message to their own city. 1 The Birmingham Protest Revival was a youth movement to revive the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama. As retaliation, particularly in the workforce, grew in the South, adults did not believe the risk of participating outweighed the rewards of resistance. Therefore, high school students and other youth that did not typically run the risk of losing a job but would benefit from desegregation and equality continued to carry the Civil Rights Movement. 2 These students would keep the Civil Rights Movement alive in a time of dire straits. As you can see in the pictures, however, these youths faced the same police brutality that their elder protestors endured, including water canon attacks.


Image Credit in Order of Appearance
Davidson, Bruce. "Time of Change (Protestors with Police Van, Alabama)." Digital image. Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project, the King Research and Education Institute. April 1963. http://www.jacksonfineart.com/artist_exhibit.php?id=42&exhibitid=121&imageid=293.
Davidson, Bruce. "Time of Change (Young Man With..." Digital image. Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project, the King Research and Education Institute. April 1963. http://www.jacksonfineart.com/artist_exhibit.php?id=42&exhibitid=121&imageid=317.
Davidson, Bruce. "Woman Sprayed by Police Hoses at Birmingham Protest." Digital image. Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project, the King Research and Education Institute. April 1963. http://www.jacksonfineart.com/artist_exhibit.php?id=42&exhibitid=121&imageid=292.

 The Birmingham Children's March

May 2 - 4, 1963

The Birmingham Children's March began on March 2nd, 1963, which became known as "D-Day" for the day the students ditched school, and with their mass exodus they created a cyclical plan that would land roughly a thousand students in jail. 3 These students of both primary and secondary school made their own posters and marched in support of desegregation and equal rights. As you can see in the pictures, during the protests these students would be subjected to police brutality no different than what adults experienced during the Civil Rights. This included attacks with water cannons and batons, their signs would be taken and destroyed, and police dogs attacked them. A significant amount of the protestors were from local public schools including Parker High School. The high schoolers were likely the students that decided to protest in groups, so that there were replacement protesters when the others were arrested. 4 This march, also called the "Children's Crusade," has many sources, primary and secondary, along with available lesson plans for texts such as Cynthia Levinson's "We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March." This book includes the account of the events from four protesters, all of who were arrested. 5 However, there are also many interviews from participants and I have provided one of them below. Mamie Chalmers, for example, was struck by water cannons in a popular picture from the march by Charles Moore. In the interview, below, she discussed how she immediately went to rejoin the march after being released from jail only to be attacked by the police. 6


Image Credit  in Order of Appearance
Jones, Ed. "A Police Officer Takes Away Protest Signs" Digital image. Zinn Education Project. May 3, 1963. https://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-childrens-march/.
Moore, Charles. "Birmingham Campaign Water Hoses." Digital image. Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail. May 3, 1963. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Birmingham_campaign_water_hoses.jpg.
Hudson, Bill. "Police Send a Group of African American School Children to Jail." Digital image. Zinn Education Project via Associated Press. May 4, 1963. https://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-childrens-march/.
Adelman, Bob. "Children's Crusade of 1963 in Birmingham." Digital Image. Associated Press via the UAB Visual Arts Gallery. 1963. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2016/03/civil_rights_photographer_bob.html.

  

Macon County Voting Campaign

June 1966

Led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) students from the Tuskeegee Institute and other youths worked to register African American voters who, despite outnumbering the white population were not voting. Their efforts would result in the first ever African American elected officials. 7 The significance of this is the similarities to modern voting movements, as well as the work of the Tuskeegee Institute, who led and participated in many events in the Civil Rights Movement, showing the willingness of youth to diversify their approaches to achieve equality. 8


Image Credit in Order of Appearance
Freeman, Jo. "Stoney Cooks and Mark Harrington of SCLC." Digital Image. The 1966 Macon County Alabama Campaign. 1966. http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/macon.html.
Freeman, Jo. "SCLC Staff and Tuskegee Institute Students." Digital Image. The 1966 Macon County Alabama Campaign. 1966. http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/macon.html.
Freeman, Jo. "Old and Young Talk About the Primary Election." Digital Image. The 1966 Macon County Alabama Campaign. 1966. http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/macon.html.

Videos

The following videos will provide you with the voices of those involved in events of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama.

This short video of Mamie King-Chalmers, photographed in the second slide of the Birmingham Children's March above, discusses her experiences at the Children's March/Crusade where she was attacked by the police with water cannons after leaving jail and returning to protest.

This brief video discusses the conflicts and threats around student sit-ins of February 29th, 1960 for desegregation of public spaces. The expulsion of the student leaders from the publicly funded university then escalated to further marches and protests.


This video discusses the student involvement, arrests, and repercussions of the Birmingham Children's March.

Featured Image Credit
Hudson, Bill. "Walter Gadsden of Ullman High School Attacked by Police Dogs at the Birmingham Children's March." Digital Image. May 3, 1963. Encyclopedia Britannica via the Associated Press. https://www.britannica.com/event/American-civil-rights-movement/Montgomery-bus-boycott-to-the-Voting-Rights-Act.
  1. One example of this would be The Big Colored parade in San Francisco in 1961."Big Colored Parade" Digital Image. Call No. BANC PIC 1959.010--NEG, Part 3, Box 196, [05-26-63.01:12]. San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Archive via UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library. https://calisphere.org/exhibitions/42/items/ark:/13030/hb5c6007kt/%3Forder=13/.
  2. Houston, Robert. "Mighty Times: The Children’s March." Zinn Education Project. 2005. https://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-childrens-march/.
  3. Houston, Robert. "Mighty Times: The Children’s March." Zinn Education Project. 2005. https://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-childrens-march/.
  4.  Houston, Robert. "Mighty Times: The Children’s March." Zinn Education Project. 2005. https://zinnedproject.org/materials/the-childrens-march/.
  5. This book was recommended by the American Library Association (ALA) as a bestseller.
  6. Mamie Chalmers on Protesting as Part of the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, AL. Performed by Mammie Chalmers. Voices of the Civil Rights Movement. December 4, 2015. http://voicesofthecivilrightsmovement.com/2015/12/04/violence-at-the-childrens-march/.
  7.  Freeman, Jo. "The 1966 Macon County Alabama Campaign." Jo Freeman. Accessed April 14, 2017. http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/mfdp64.html.
  8. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland worked closely with students of the Tuskeegee Institute while preparing for the Selma protests.; Civil Rights History Project, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, and John Dittmer. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Oral History Interview Conducted by John Dittmer in Arlington, Virginia. The Library of Congress. Accessed February 19, 2017. https://www.loc.gov/item/2015669178/.
  9. King, Jr., Martin Luther. "Address Delivered at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church." Speech, Children's Crusade, Alabama, Birmingham, May 3, 1963.

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