How Civil Disobedience Helps Overcome Oppression: Part 11

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Published on November 24, 2021 by

How Civil Disobedience Helps Overcome Oppression: Part 11
“Birmingham’s Hate Became America’s Rallying Cry”

(Includes rare color footage of Alabama Governor George Wallace’s famous “segregation forever” speech).

When Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a prominent Civil Rights activist in Birmingham, Alabama, asked Dr. King to come to his city, he had no idea how much an impact that would have in Birmingham and in America.

Well, Rev Shuttlesworth did forecast the end result by telling Dr. King: “If you come to Birmingham, you will not only gain prestige, but really shake the country. If you win in Birmingham, as Birmingham goes, so goes the nation.”

At the time, Dr. King’s image took a hit from his “lessons” in Albany, Georgia with their “non-violent” police chief Laurie Pritchett. In Birmingham, however, he would meet with the violent police commissioner Bull Connor, who not only hated integration but once said “there’s going to bloodshed” is desegregation is forced in Birmingham.

There were so many events that took place after Dr. King and SCLC arrived in 1963 we can’t talk about them all. So we’ll quickly mention the highlights:

1. The goal was to desegregate the downtown shopping stores, bring fair hiring practices in shops & city employment, reopen public parks (which was closed because the city didn’t want to integrate them after a late 1950s court ruling), and to form a biracial committee to oversee desegregation of schools.

2. The method: Sit-ins, keel-ins by Black visitors at segregated White churches, and marches for voter registration drives. Direct nonviolent action and civil disobedience to create a crisis that would force negotiations. If other Black people didn’t care about the movement and bought items at stores, there were Black “undercover” folks used to shame them into joining the boycotts. This proved effective.

3. Not all Black people and religious preachers from all races supported Dr. King and SCLC’s arrival.

And that’s just the beginning. Check the video for the rest…part of our “Civil Disobedience” series. In the end, the nation got involved and Dr. King’s image recovered, leading to his “I have a dream” speech at the nation’s capital.

View Part 12 here.

View Part 10 here.

 

**About this series:

We’re showing a multi-part series on how CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE has been the main catalyst that has overcome oppression in the U.S.

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