By Pay Byington
It is a part of the history of Birmingham we shall never forget.
During the first week of May 1963, Civil Rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth launched the Children’s Crusade.
On Friday, May 10 at 10 a.m. the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is gathering students of all ages at St. Paul United Methodist Church, to march alongside the original “foot soldiers” to commemorate the 56th Anniversary of the Children’s Crusade.
It will be a powerful, once in a lifetime opportunity to walk in the same footsteps and listen to the stories from the brave heroes who faced (as children) one of the most violent moments during the struggle for Civil Rights.
On May 2, 1963, thousands of children in Birmingham, trained in the tactics of nonviolence, marched throughout the city, calling for desegregation. Hundreds of children were arrested on the first day. On the second day, Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor ordered police to spray the children with powerful water hoses, hit them with batons and threaten them with police dogs. Despite the violence, the children continued to march days afterwards.
Television footage and photographs of the brutal response to the non-violent protests was seen on broadcasts and in print all over the world.
Because of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, the Civil Rights movement had the attention of the White House, Congress, the nation and the world.
Changed The World
“The Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama led by Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. inspired a generation of activists in 1963 who changed the world,” said Andrea L. Taylor, CEO, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “The lessons learned then resonate today among Gen Z as they seek to make a difference through nonviolent social change in their communities across the nation and around the world.”
The May 10th event is free (registration required) and begins at 10 a.m. at St. Paul United Methodist Church (1500 6th Ave N, Birmingham) During the first hour students will hear firsthand from the original foot soldiers what it was like to live in Birmingham in the turbulent early 1960s and how they prepared to march throughout the city to protest peacefully for the end of segregation.
At 11 a.m. students will leave St. Pauls and march toward Kelly Ingram Park, just like the Foot Soldiers 56 years ago.
All Are Welcome
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute welcomes people of all ages, but especially students, to participate. To register as an individual or group, please email Barry McNealy at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (205) 703 -0212.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Established 25 years ago, the mission of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future. Become a member today.
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