Birmingham Campaign – Spring
• SCLC chose to confront segregation in
Birmingham in the spring of 1963.
• Birmingham was one of the most racially
divided cities in the U.S.
• Black citizens faced legal and economic
inequalities as well as violence.
• Given the nickname—”Bombingham”
• Project C
Goals of Campaign
• Desegregate downtown stores
Through store boycotts, puts economic
pressure on city.
• Get media attention on their cause by
forcing violent reactions
Achieved through Sit-Ins &
Demonstrations, Mass Arrests
Rationale for Campaign
• "My theory was that if we mounted a
strong nonviolent movement, the
opposition would surely do something to
attract the media, and in turn induce
national sympathy and attention to the
everyday segregated circumstance of a
person living in the Deep South," Wyatt
Tee Walker, leader of SCLC Birmingham
• "The purpose of ... direct action is to
create a situation so crisis-packed that
it will inevitably open the door to
negotiation." Dr. King, 1963
• "You can rest assured that I will fill the
jail full of any persons violating the law
as long as I'm at City Hall.“ Bull Connor,
Eugene “Bull” Connor
• Birmingham’s Public Safety
Commissioner, Connor was notorious for
violent & brutal actions against CR
• Widely publicized confrontations
between black youth and white civic
• "The Civil Rights movement should thank
God for Bull Connor. He's helped it as
much as Abraham Lincoln." JFK
Dr. King arrested in Birmingham
Letter from Birmingham Jail
• Dr. King arrested in a mass
demonstration, as well.
• From jail, he writes a letter in response
to whites who say CR tactics are wrong.
• The Children's Crusade in May 1963 used
black youth from area schools as
• Bull Connor arrested 100s of children and
sent them to jail.
• He used fire hoses and police dogs to stop
• Front-page photographs in newspapers
convinced Kennedy to force an end to violence.
• "The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have
so increased cries for equality that no city or
state or legislative body can prudently choose
to ignore them." JFK
• The Soviet Union devoted up to 25 percent of its
news broadcast to the demonstrations, sending
much of it to Africa, where Soviet and U.S.
• Pressured Birmingham government to
change the city's discrimination laws.
• Brought national (and international)
attention to CR issues.
• Ultimately led to passing of the CR Act of
1964. Will directly lead to the March on