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    WSB-TV newsfilm clip of John F. Kennedy speaking at a press conference about civil rights demonstrations and the federal government's support and protection in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 12

    WSB-TV newsfilm clip of John F. Kennedy speaking at a press conference about civil rights demonstrations and the federal government's support and protection in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 12
    • Date
    • 1963 May 12
    • Creator
    • WSB-TV (Television station : Atlanta, Ga.)
    • Description
    • In this WSB newsfilm clip from a news conference on May 12, 1963 President John F. Kennedy urges Birmingham, Alabama residents to practice nonviolence and pledges the federal government's support and protection; he later asks Birmingham citizens... more
      In this WSB newsfilm clip from a news conference on May 12, 1963 President John F. Kennedy urges Birmingham, Alabama residents to practice nonviolence and pledges the federal government's support and protection; he later asks Birmingham citizens to recognize and support the agreement reached by negotiators on May 10 that, to that point, had appeased civil demonstrations. He advises the public "to realize that violence only breeds more violence" and warns "there must be no repetition of last night's incidents by any group." President Kennedy emphasizes the government's role "to preserve order, to protect the lives of its citizens, and to uphold the law of the land," and condemns those who "would replace conciliation and good will with violence and hate." After mass civil rights demonstrations led by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in April and May of 1963, black and white negotiators reached an accord on May 10 that ended demonstrations. On May 11, the A.G. Gaston Motel and the home of Dr. Martin Luther King's brother, Reverend A. D. King, were both bombed. King and other SCLC leaders frequented the Gaston Motel when in Birmingham; businessman A. G. Gaston often provided them with complimentary office space. The bombings sparked riots by African Americans in a twenty-eight-block section of Birmingham. Local police officers and state troopers responding to the crisis beat rioters and bystanders, injuring over fifty people. In response to the violence, Kennedy issued the aforementioned statement, readied troops for riot control, and federalized the Alabama National Guard. less
    • Rights
    • Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of John F. Kennedy speaking at a press conference about civil rights demonstrations and the feder... more
      Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of John F. Kennedy speaking at a press conference about civil rights demonstrations and the federal government's support and protection in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 12, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0784, 27:41/28:50, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga less
    • Partner
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection; Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

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    WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Malcolm X condemning the federal government for not protecting African commenting on violence in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 16

    WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Malcolm X condemning the federal government for not protecting African commenting on violence in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 16
    • Date
    • 1963 May 16
    • Creator
    • WSB-TV (Television station : Atlanta, Ga.)
    • Description
    • In this WSB newsfilm clip from May 16, 1963, Malcolm X warns against expecting civil rights leaders to prevent violence and condemns President John F. Kennedy for not protecting African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama. Malcolm X responds to warnings... more
      In this WSB newsfilm clip from May 16, 1963, Malcolm X warns against expecting civil rights leaders to prevent violence and condemns President John F. Kennedy for not protecting African Americans in Birmingham, Alabama. Malcolm X responds to warnings made by New York congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. about potential race riots in Washington D.C. He commends Powell for "being bold enough to repeat what the honorable Elijah Muhammad [head of the Nation of Islam] has been saying for thirty-three years," but explains that the possibility of race riots existed before it was recognized by Powell. Malcolm X criticizes those who expect civil rights leaders to prevent race riots. He attacks President John F. Kennedy for sending federal troops into Birmingham after rioting on May 11 and 12, but failing to consider it a necessary option when it was time to protect African Americans, including children, who were bitten by police dogs and sprayed with fire hoses. X intimates that only after African Americans demonstrated "that they were just as capable of defending themselves in Birmingham as they have been capable in the past of defending America on the battlefields of Korea and Germany and those other places" did Kennedy send troops; opining that the troops were not sent to Birmingham to protect African Americans. Civil rights demonstrations led by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began in April, 1963 and continued until an accord was reached between black and white negotiators on May 10. Birmingham police used dogs and fire hoses to break up several large demonstrations in May, drawing criticism for the use of force. In response to the riots, President Kennedy nationalized the Alabama National Guard and sent other troops to Birmingham; rioting ultimately ceased, and troops did not have to be called into Birmingham. less
    • Rights
    • Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Malcolm X condemning the federal government for not protecting African commenting on violence ... more
      Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of Malcolm X condemning the federal government for not protecting African commenting on violence in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 16, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0806, 23:41/25:09, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga less
    • Partner
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection; Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

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    WSB-TV newsfilm clip of president John F. Kennedy in a press conference expressing his satisfaction with progress in resolving racial conflicts in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 8

    WSB-TV newsfilm clip of president John F. Kennedy in a press conference expressing his satisfaction with progress in resolving racial conflicts in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 8
    • Date
    • 1963 May 8
    • Creator
    • WSB-TV (Television station : Atlanta, Ga.)
    • Description
    • In this WSB newsfilm clip from a May 8, 1963 news conference President John F. Kennedy expresses his satisfaction with the recent progress in the resolution of racial conflicts in Birmingham, Alabama. President Kennedy reports that the Department of... more
      In this WSB newsfilm clip from a May 8, 1963 news conference President John F. Kennedy expresses his satisfaction with the recent progress in the resolution of racial conflicts in Birmingham, Alabama. President Kennedy reports that the Department of Justice is investigating alleged voter discrimination in Birmingham, and has supported efforts in the Supreme Court to remove the city's segregation ordinances. He confirms that the administration's primary goal is to foster communication in the resolution of African American concerns; the administration believes that federal civil rights statutes have not been violated during the current crisis. Burke Marshall, assistant attorney general, representing President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy in Birmingham is working "to halt a spectacle which was seriously damaging the reputation of both Birmingham and the country." President Kennedy praises the business community's pledge to address "the justifiable needs" of local African Americans. He explains that civil rights leaders agreed to end demonstrations, and that Albert Boutwell, the newly-elected mayor, had pledged that that the city would commit itself "wholeheartedly to continuing progress in this area." Kennedy hopes that the conflict will remind other communities of the importance of "equal opportunity and treatment." He concludes by urging the continued "constructive and cooperative efforts" of both black and whites. While the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) had led civil rights efforts in Birmingham for several years, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) began assisting with concentrated actions against segregation on April 3, 1963. Local merchants, effected by a longstanding economic boycott of segregated downtown businesses, initiated discussions with civil rights leaders at the end of April. Pressure on city officials to negotiate increased substantially after May 3, the day that Birmingham public safety commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor directed police officers and fire fighters to disperse young demonstrators (who were participating in the second day of the Children's Crusade march) with high-pressure fire hoses and dogs. White and black leaders reached a compromise one week later that ended the demonstrations on May 10. It was also at this time that Connor, along with other Birmingham city commissioners, was involved in a legal battle to prevent the city of Birmingham from revising its structure as a city commission in favor of a mayor-council municipal government; Connor and the city commissioners lost the lawsuit May 23. less
    • Rights
    • Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of president John F. Kennedy in a press conference expressing his satisfaction with progress in r... more
      Courtesy of Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. Cite as: WSB-TV newsfilm clip of president John F. Kennedy in a press conference expressing his satisfaction with progress in resolving racial conflicts in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963 May 8, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0755, 36:45/39:09, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Ga. less
    • Partner
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection; Digital Library of Georgia
    • Contributing Institution
    • Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection

Birmingham, Alabama remained segregated in spring 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. and colleagues at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) launched Project C (for confrontation), which wedded economic pressure and direct action protest to undermine segregation. After sit-ins, mass meetings, and an economic boycott, the campaign received national media attention on April 7 when Public Safety Commissioner T. Eugene "Bull" Connor loosed police attack dogs on marchers undertaking nonviolent protest. King's decision to disregard a federal court injunction barring further demonstrations resulted in his arrest, along with local leader Fred L. Shuttlesworth, and others on April 12th. While imprisoned, King penned "A Letter from Birmingham Jail," his response to critics of direct action protest. On May 3, Birmingham police used high pressure fire hoses to disrupt a peaceful demonstration composed largely of students, thereby provoking national outrage and prompting federal intervention. Kennedy administration officials helped negotiate a settlement on May 10, but rioting ensued the next day in response to the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the A.G. Gaston Motel and the home of Reverend A.D. King. Events in Birmingham helped galvanize national support for civil rights reform and contributed to passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.