Birmingham Riots Alex Kortgard

Martin Luther King Jr.

The Birmingham Riots took place in Alabama, during the year 1963. This city was considered one of the most racist during the time period, and it was one of Martin Luther King's main goals to try and decrease the amount of segregation in the city. Specifically, to desegregate lunch counters in downtown shops by a non-violent protest. Another goal of King was to gain national attention for events that took place Birmingham. He hoped that President Kennedy would see the events that took place, and be forced to intervene. So, to try and combat the segregation MLK started business boycotts which were protesting the racism in business and how the owners treat their African American employees, or if they actually hire them. This angered white people in the community, and resulted in numerous arrests. These actions laid the groundwork for the Birmingham Riots to eventually begin.

Peaceful protests led by Martin Luther King
Eugene "Bull" Connor(Commissioner of Public Safety Birmingham)

Eugene Connor was elected in 1934, he gained support for being a well known segregationist, and this in turn gained him lots of support from the city of Birmingham, because segregation was rigidly enforced and where attempts were made to keep the state so despite federal legislation. Eugene Connor saw Martin Luther King's attempt to protest as a direct challenge to his authority, so he had the fire department use their high pressure hoses to try and deter protesting, and also had the Police Department use police dogs to try and stop protesting. The images were shown around the world – of unarmed demonstrators who were non-aggressive being attacked by the police. In the end his actions disgusted millions and only helped the Civil Rights cause.

Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King with the help of the SCLC(Southern Christian Leadership Conference) were important, because they were the main leaders of the protests. These two collaborated and decided how they would protest. They were an invaluable part to the protests, they provided leadership and made the rallies seem worthwhile to the people who were on the fence about protesting.

Protesters faced many obstacles in their quest to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama. Because of the harsh laws in Birmingham, African Americans were technically not allowed to protests. This was the biggest obstacle that faced protesters. The laws allowed the Connor to react to the protest in any way that he wanted. It was technically illegal so he could use force if they were not compliant. So, he did use force, he had the Police Department use police dogs, and the Fire Department to use their high pressure hoses get rid of the African American protesters. There was no way to get around these obstacles, so the way they did combat them was by just being prepared for the violence that was going to be used against them.

These riots led to an agreement to desegregate lunch counters and fitting rooms. Also, they removed "Whites Only" signs from areas such as drinking fountains and restrooms. Also, it led to businesses hiring more African Americans. But, perhaps the biggest victory was the fact that all of the brutality being used against the peaceful protests was broadcasted on national television and in newspapers around the United States. This led to many people around the nation changing opinion and supporting the Civil Rights Movement due to the unpeaceful way to break up the protests.

I believe that the Birmingham Riots and Black Lives Matter protests are very comparable. Both of these movements had violence in them, Black Lives Matter was not as extreme, but they had violence. Also, I think they are comparable in the fact that they don't really care about the consequences that come with their actions(Kind of in a different way though). In the Birmingham Riots people knew what would happen if they protested and they accepted them, and Black Lives Matter protesters are kind of the same, but they kind of cause trouble from protesting, like shutting down the highway.

Siemaszko, C. (2012, May 03). Birmingham erupted into chaos in 1963 as battle for civil rights exploded in South. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from

The Birmingham Campaign. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from

Bull Connor. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2017, from


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