1963 May 3

Fire Hoses and Police Dogs Attack Birmingham Civil Right Demonstrators


In one of the most dramatic moments of the entire civil rights movement, the police in Birmingham, Alabama, used fire hoses and trained police dogs against African-American civil rights demonstrators. Bull Connor, who became internationally notorious as the Commissioner of Public Safety, ordered the attacks on the protesters, who had gathered the day before as part of the “Children’s Crusade” (see the events the day before, May 2, 1963).

Photographs and television images of these events were transmitted around the world — and were instrumental in rousing American public opinion on civil rights. By May 7th, Connor and the police had arrested and jailed over 3,000 demonstrators, many of whom were children.

The crisis spurred President John Kennedy to propose a federal civil rights bill on June 11, 1963. A year later, an even stronger bill became the 1964 Civil Rights Act, on July 2, 1964.

Watch newsreel footage of the famous confrontation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9kT1yO4MGg

Check out Birmingham’s 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2013:

Learn more about the Birmingham struggle: Diane McWhorter, Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution (2001)

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!