The Birmingham Campaign – 1963

1 Posted by - March 5, 2023 - Black History, BLACK POLITICS

The Birmingham Campaign was a Black movement that was led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1963. The main idea behind this movement was to seek national attention for the tremendous efforts done by the Black leaders to start desegregating the public facilities present in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the one who led this campaign, along with Reverends James Bevel and Fred Shuttlesworth.

During April 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. joined one of the ongoing local campaigns organized by Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). The main goal of this campaign was to take notice of different segregation systems of the city just by imposing pressure on the merchants of Birmingham during the festive season of Easter. When the campaign started, ACMHR sought help from SCLC to make the campaign bigger and more successful. The Birmingham Campaign was scheduled in March 1963 but due to some unwanted reasons postponed to April. The campaign was then launched on April 3, 1963, with huge lunch sit-ins, massive meetings, a boycott of downtown merchants and marches on city hall. During the campaign, King requested all the Black citizens of Birmingham for a nonviolent protest and also required loyal volunteers. With the hugely enthusiastic response from the Black citizens, the actions of the campaign changed into sit-ins at the city library, kneel-ins at the church and a great march on the courthouse of the country to register the voters.

On April 10, 1963, a banning order was obtained from the court by the city government against the Birmingham protests. But after a lot of negotiation, the leaders of the campaign thought of disobeying the court order. There was a major risk of jail, but King contemplated and on Friday, April 12, 1963, he got arrested in Birmingham for violating the court orders. He was placed in the solitary imprisonment, where he wrote: “Letter from Birmingham Jail” published on Birmingham news. This letter was against the statement published by eight Birmingham clergymen who were against the protests.

King was not permitted to make a call to his wife and in response to this; his wife made tremendous efforts for her husband’s safety and showed her concerns to the Kennedy Administration. After so much of negotiation, King was released on bail on April 20, 1963, to continue his mission. King and his fellow leaders continued their great efforts and on May 10, 1963, King and Fred Shuttlesworth finally announced an agreement stating that the city of Birmingham will desegregate all the restrooms, lunch counters, and drinking fountains and fitting rooms of department stores within 90 days. It also stated for the release of hundreds of jail protesters and to hire Black salesman in different department stores.

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