|When the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
decided to fight for equality in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963, they
were not choosing an easy location. Birmingham was filled with
racial tensions, and was alternatively known as "Bomingham" because
of the many black churches that were bombed.
While in Birmingham, Alabama, King was jailed for the thirteenth
time on April 12, 1963, for disobeying a court order. The court
order had been issued to try and stop King from continuing his
protests. In the Birmingham jail, King wrote his famous "Letter
from a Birmingham Jail." Written on toilet paper, newspaper, and
with a smuggled pen, the letter was widely published. The letter
earned King and his a fellow Civil Rights leader Reverend Ralph
David Abernathy their release.
On May 2 that same year, over 1000 African-American children
marched in the Children's Crusade. Singing "We Shall Overcome," the
children were sprayed with water from high-power hoses that could
blast off clothing. They also attacked by vicious German shepherds.
By the end of the day, police (under the order of Eugene "Bull"
Connor) had arrested 959 boys and girls.
Images of the attacks were shown on national television and in
newspapers. These pictures conveyed powerful messages, and many
Americans became disgusted by what they saw. As in instances
elsewhere, the police had not protected the protesters, but had
helped to attack them instead. Power holders such as Alabama
Governor George Wallace and police chief Eugene "Bull" Connor were
usually at the head of such orders.
A few days after the Children's Crusade, new marchers were
hosed. When the police received no retaliation, the marchers were
allowed to continue onward with their march. This continuation
seemed to symbolize the constant reforms that were achieved by
using peaceful protest. By choosing to break away at the wall of
segregation in Birmingham, the SCLC and many African A mericans had
risked their lives. But when a meeting between white and black
leaders took place on May 10, 1963, however, African Americans knew
that it had been well worth the effort.