Birmingham in the 1960's

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In 1963, Birmingham became a focus for the Civil Rights Movement. Birmingham, as a city, had made its mark on the Civil Rights Movement for a number of years. Whether it was through the activities of Eugene "Bull: Connor or the church bombing which killed four school girls, many Americans should have known about Birmingham by 1963. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was relatively inactive in Birmingham until February of 1963 because the Birmingham City Council banned the organization from meeting in 1953; so any civil rights campaign could only be lead by Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) (King 36). Thus, Birmingham had a fast growing reputation as one of the South's most fiercely nonintegrated cities (Birmingham Civil Rights Institute). "Birmingham is the most thoroughly segregated city in America," was the verdict of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the SCLC began the Birmingham demonstrations (King 53). These were a series of protests carried out by Birmingham blacks under the direction of the SCLC from April 3 to May 10, 1963. These acts of protest were against segregated public accommodations in downtown Birmingham and against employment discrimination. The city was the largest and richest in Alabama, but African Americans benefited little from its wealth. Most were denied the right to vote, were banned from using city recreational facilities, and were relegated to the area's most menial and lowest-paid jobs. Most humiliating of all, in downtown stores, they were forced to use "colored" water fountains, dressing rooms, restrooms, and lunch counters (Birmingham Civil Rights Institute). King responded to the voting issue by saying, "Of the 80,000 registered voters in Birmingham, prior to January 1963, only 10,000 were African Americans" (King 35). This was only one-eight of the voting population in the city. But some blacks refused to accept racial discrimination and degradation. They established protest groups...
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