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:
http://birminghamal.org/events/50th-anniversary-of-the-civil-rights-movement-in-birmingham/

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

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