Birmingham Riots 1963, Birmingham Alabama

Birmingham Alabama was a place of increased segregation and KKK outbursts. African American leaders sought to desegregate Birmingham in the hope to influence other cities to change. In 1963, these leaders took to the streets of Birmingham for a peaceful protest against the most racist area in America at the time.

Photo of segregated water fountains

It took may people and groups to organize the peaceful protest in Birmingham, including Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. These people and groups organized and stood with protesters during the Birmingham riots.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Fred Shuttlesworth
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights

During the Birmingham Riots there were many obstacles that protesters had to overcome. Aggressive force was used against protesters in Birmingham, such as fire hoses and dogs used on protesters as well as many arrests during riots. Bull Connor authorized the use of such force against protesters. Even though the many injuries and arrests people persisted and eventually the media became involved and supported protests while pressuring the city to change. The Civil Rights Act is signed in 1964.

People confront police during protest

After the Birmingham riots it was a moral boost for the civil rights activists at the time. After taking on Birmingham many things changed throughout America. People who participated in the riots are remembered for bravery and strength when times were tough. People today are continually inspired by the actions of those in the Birmingham riots.

The Dakota Pipeline issue can be compared to the Birmingham riots because of the unjust ways peaceful protesters are treated. The Dakota pipeline protest is against a pipeline that goes through Native American land and could potentially harm their one source of water. Protesters stood at the site of construction and spoke out against the pipeline. Police used pepper spray and force to move the Native people off the land. Similar to the Birmingham riots force was used in excess to stop people from exercising their freedom of speech and peaceful protest guaranteed in the amendments.

Child holding sign in support of Native American people
People protesting pipeline in Dakota

Works Cited

Birmingham Campaign of 1963. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

Birmingham Riots 1963. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

Jaffe, R. (2016, December 03). Dakota Access Pipeline Latest Case of Environmental Racism. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

Siemaszko, C. (2012, May 03). Birmingham erupted into chaos in 1963 as battle for civil rights exploded in South. Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

What Standing Rock Teaches Us About Environmental Racism And Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2017, from

Caitlin Harrison

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