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On June 1, 1956, Alabama circuit court judge Walter B. Jones handed down an injunction against the NAACP in Alabama which barred the group from any activity within the state. Buoyed by the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth saw this judgment as an opportunity to form a new organization that would be more “in your face” than any previous civil rights associations.

The Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) was formed four days after the injunction was issued. ACMHR mass meetings held throughout the city in churches and black businesses served to ignite hope and a willingness to protest deep-rooted racial injustices.

From April 3 to May 10 of 1963, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization that Rev. Shuttlesworth helped to establish, along with Martin Luther King and C.K. Steele, led demonstrations (called Project C for Confrontation) against segregated public accommodations in downtown Birmingham and also against employment discrimination. Out of this protest came Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, written in response to an open letter from a group of local white ministers who called the demonstrations “unwise and untimely.”

At the end of April, SCLC’s James Bevel suggested using schoolchildren in the marches. Thousands of children volunteered to demonstrate and over 1,600 were arrested during the course of two days. Photographic images of these demonstrators being sprayed by high pressured fire hoses and being attacked by police dogs garnered national news attention. People throughout the world sympathized with the protesters in their fight for change.


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