Home Search Cases Editors' Choices Ideas Resources
Editor Login

Case #419

Multi-faceted non-violent approach paves way for Civil Rights Act of 1964


(full text):
"I conclude that this award which I received on behalf of that movement is profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time - the need for man to overcome oppression and violence
without resorting to violence and oppression.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, 1964

The campaign for civil rights in Birmingham, Alabama, was brutal. Local Sheriff, Bull Connor, became known nationwide as a bully who not only refused to protect nonviolent activists but condoned violent attacks on them.

Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth led the civil rights struggle in Birmingham and organized the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) that gave national organizations, such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a base in this dangerous city. In 1961 when the Congress of Racial Equality sent Freedom Riders on a bus trip through the south to integrate interstate travel, riders were attacked in Birmingham (including War Resisters League activist Jim Peck who was badly beaten). When SNCC took over the Freedom Ride despite the danger, Shuttlesworth and his group provided safe houses and support.

ACMHR invited Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC to shift the civil rights campaign to Birmingham in 1963, strategizing that sit-ins and demonstrations would lead to arrests and national attention to the cause. Bull Connor's response was more brutal than expected, and millions of Americans were horrified by news reports on television: German shepherds leaping and snarling and biting children. King's historic "Letter from a Birmingham jail" was written during this campaign, and the coalition efforts led to the historical March on Washington in August, 1963. What happened in Birmingham forced the federal government to wake up to the crisis. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a direct result.

The Children by David Halberstam; A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

From War Resistors League 2002 Peace Calendar, Fifty-Two True Stories of Nonviolent Success.


Location: U.S.A.
Action: Legal, Political, Direct, Boycott/Strike, Economic/Business, Education/P.R.
Setting: Developed World
Extent of Action: National
Issues: Human Rights, Peace/Conflict Resolution
Year(s): 1963
Outcome successful
Source: War Resistors League 2002 Peace Calendar, Dec2001-Jan2002


additional reading:
The Children by David Halberstam; A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Prepared By: rja, 1/02
Rating: 1
    Comment On This Case

Database of Successful Strategies and Tactics
Copyright © 2001-2007 DBSST.org. All Rights Reserved.
Disclaimer and Notices