“These are the hard, brutal facts of the case,” wrote Martin Luther King Jr. from a Jefferson County jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, on April 16, 1963.
Birmingham saw more “unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches” than any other American city. Racist posters decorated the storefronts of its businesses. State officials worked overtime to curb black suffrage.
Local cops “pushed and cursed” elderly black women. Commissioner of Public Safety and Dixiecrat Bull Connor unleashed attack dogs on black children marching nonviolently for civil rights.
Birmingham, Alabama, had a race problem.
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The United States at large had a race problem that traced back to when the first African slaves were first imported to Virginia in 1619. It was not ameliorated when Abraham Lincoln’s Union Army dispossessed the Southern aristocracy of its slaves, and remained acute in places like Birmingham, where King first established himself as the man that would lead the United States into the multiracial era.
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