June 5, 1956
Following a court decision that banned the NAACP from operating within Alabama, a group of African American ministers in Birmingham, led by the Rev. Fred Lee Shuttlesworth, held a mass meeting at Sardis Baptist Church and founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR). The charismatic Shuttlesworth was elected president, and the organization began a series of weekly mass gatherings with the goal of devising ways to push for racial integration. Over the next seven years, Shuttlesworth and the ACMHR were a force for equal rights, persuading the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to bring his Southern Christian Leadership Conference to the city for joint protests in 1963. Their combined effort, among other events, led to a negotiated agreement with new city leadership and business leaders to desegregate local commerce and public places. It also moved the nation a step closer toward passage by Congress of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.
The Rev. Fred Lee Shuttlesworth was a pastor and civil rights leader in Birmingham during the 1960s, pushing for desegregation and voting rights for African Americans. He founded the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and worked with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, image courtesy of The Birmingham News)
On May 10, 1963, ministers Martin Luther King Jr., left, and Wyatt Tee Walker, right, announced an agreement with Birmingham businesses to desegregate certain services and jobs in the city. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of The Birmingham News, photograph by Tom Self)
Eugene “Bull” Connor (1897-1973) served as Public Safety commissioner of Birmingham in the 1960s. He gained national media attention for his use of fire hoses and attack dogs on crowds during the civil rights protests in Birmingham in 1963. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of Birmingham Public Library Archives)
Civil Rights Act of 1964. (U.S. Congress, Wikipedia)
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964. (Cecil Stoughton, White House Press Office, Wikipedia)
A Southern Christian Leadership Conference Stop the Violence March and Rally held in Birmingham in July 2005. The organization was founded in 1957 by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other religious leaders to fight segregation in the South. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, courtesy of The Birmingham News)
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.