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The 1963 Birmingham Campaign. Protest, Reaction, and Results. “Long as I’m po-leece commissioner in Birmingham, the niggers and white folks ain’t goin’ desegregate in this man’s town.” -Bull Connor-. Phase One.

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The 1963 birmingham campaign

The 1963 Birmingham Campaign

Protest, Reaction, and Results.

“Long as I’m po-leece commissioner in Birmingham, the niggers and white folks ain’t goin’ desegregate in this man’s town.”

-Bull Connor-

Phase one
Phase One

  • April 3 – ‘Birmingham Manifesto’ issued, containing demands for desegregation and threatening non-violent protest against the economy of the city.

  • April 10 – Small groups were marching in front of City Hall and picketing stores. Bull Connor reacted by arresting them all.

  • Fundraising now working effectively. As fast as protestors were locked up, organisers bailed them out.

Phase one1
Phase One

  • 11 April – MLK along with others were issued with a court order prohibiting them from leading or organising demonstrations.

  • With the protests not going well, and learning from Albany, court orders were ignored.

  • 12 April – MLK led a prayer march downtown, was arrested, and placed in solitary confinement.

  • 20 April – MLK leaves jail to the dismay of protest dying out with too many protestors in jail and not enough funds to bail them out.

Phase two
Phase Two

  • The SCLC planners proposed using high school students to protest. MLK agreed.

  • 2-3 May – Over 1000 young people marched to the city centre. 900 were arrested. Over 2500 turned up the next day led by adults and marched to the business district clutching ‘freedom’ signs.

May 2 nd birmingham s day of shame
May 2nd – Birmingham’s ‘Day of Shame’

  • Bull Connor ordered firemen to use high pressure hoses on protestors. This would send protestors (and remember mainly children) crashing to the ground and into buildings.

  • Connor added to the chaos with police dogs snarling, lunging, and biting at protestors.

  • The next day millions read about or watched Birmingham’s ‘day of shame’. President Kennedy said it made him ‘sick’

  • These tactics remained in place over the next week.


  • Birmingham business leaders were concerned by the disruption to trade and sought negotiation and the end of protests.

  • 10 May – Federal representatives and MLK’s committee negotiated a settlement.

Results desegregation
Results - Desegregation

  • White and coloured signs were removed, lunch counters desegregated, and whites started employing some blacks in previously ‘white only’ jobs.

  • Libraries, municipal golf courses, public buildings, and schools were all eventually desegregated.

Results leaders
Results - Leaders

  • For MLK it showed that…

    • Non-violent direct action could work.

    • The black community can stand up to brutality.

    • His organisation can mobilise and direct large numbers.

  • Pressure was also put on President Kennedy to legislate against segregation. His brother and Attorney-General Robert Kennedy was also angered by the scenes at Birmingham and decided to support the civil rights movement.

Results aftermath
Results - Aftermath

  • Birmingham segregationists responded to the agreement with a series of violent attacks. President Kennedy responded by ordering 3,000 federal troops into position near Birmingham and making preparations to federalize the Alabama National Guard.

  • June 11 – President Kennedy delivers the ‘Civil Rights Address’ on radio and television. In it he proposes a ‘civil rights bill’, which in 1964 will become legislation as the ‘Civil Rights Act’.