Leaders & Controversies

Transcript: Source2

Evidence of what happened at protests in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama
(2a: Empics, 2458335; 2b-d: H Huntley and D Montgomery, eds, ‘Black Workers' Struggle for Equality in Birmingham’, Champaign, University of Illinois Press, 2004, pp. 89-90, 168, a product of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Oral History Project)

Source 2a

[This photo shows a city street scene. Two policemen hold dogs on leashes. One of the dogs appears to be attacking a black man standing on the street.]

Source 2b

During the demonstrations in April and May, we marched to the city jail on Sunday, and they would have the hose pipes and water, and [we] prayed, and some of the preachers said they just wanted to go up to the jail to pray, and they refused to let us go. So some started walking off, and all of us walked off, and we went on to the jail. But the fire department was out there with hose pipes to keep us from going to the jail, just to pray. We had a lot of children, and vicious German police dogs, and the hosepipes were strong that they turned on any number of people. There were probably a thousand children. They knocked children down in the street and, at the same time, sicked [set] the dogs on the people, and the children had to fight the dogs off. But they didn't have anything to fight the dogs with. But, at the same time, people were somewhat devastated because of the fire hoses and because of the dogs. The police did not do anything to keep the dogs off the people, nor did the fire department turn the water off. It was a tragic situation in Birmingham at that time. This did not stop people from becoming involved; instead, it increased people getting involved. Instead of driving people from the Movement, people came more and more and more. [George Price speaking, Oral History Project]

Source 2c

I witnessed the demonstrations all the time because I'm always downtown working, not too far from here.

Also, I was one of the first to integrate the lunch counters at Lowe's Restaurant [then located in the retail area of downtown Birmingham]. After they had declared that, you know, let's integrate the restaurants and Newberry's and other desegregation businesses.

Then Lowe's was not too far from the post office, and then I knew. I said, "Whenever it comes out, I'm going." Then the fellow would say, "Man, we're going to have to come and get you." I said, "I'm going," and I had one young lady to go with me the first day, Mrs. Margaret Johnson. She said, "I'll go with you." Then we went on down. The first day they didn't serve us.

Source 2d

Then we went back the next day, and the manager was there, and he waited on us. Then we sat in the first section of the place, and all the whites went to the back section. So we did that for about three or four days, and by Friday we decided we'd get some more, 'cause we were sitting up front where there was two seats, and they had about three or four more tables with just two seats, and we didn't want to go back in the back. So the last day, Friday I believe, we got a couple of more, so we could go in the back. Then we went in the back, and everybody moved up front. Some just got up and left and left their food and everything. So we stayed in there for quite some time. This wasn't organized at all. We were just going for lunch. We had to do something. We couldn't march, but we could be in the meetings. I attended many of the meetings. Also, after they bombed the church [Sixteenth Street Baptist], then all of the church doors opened in Fairfield and all around. King and his group would come and be in our church for maybe an hour, and then he would go to another church, then another. [James Greene speaking, Oral History Project]

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