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Civil Rights Trail - Primary Sources


The Birmingham campaign started as an adult focus protest lead by Martin Luther King, Ralph Abernathy, and Fred Shuttlesworth. Picture of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth leading marchers in prayer just before they are arrested in early April. 


All Images from Civil Rights Movement Archive

The 16th Street Baptist Church became the headquarters for the movement in Birmingham. 

In late April James Bevel joined the campaign and began the Children's Crusade. 

Dr. King and Rev. Abernathy under arrest on Good Friday, 1963.

On May 2, 1963,  hundreds of kids from high schoolers down to first graders participated in a massive school walkout, and were arrested for breaking segregation laws. 

As protests continued, police violence escalated. 

On the orders of the Commissioner of Public Safety, Bull Connor, high-pressure firehoses are used against young demonstrators.

This violence was captured by national television and newspaper cameras. This media coverage has been largely credited as shifting national and international support for the protestors. 

On May 10, Fred Shuttlesworth and Martin Luther King Jr. told reporters that they had an agreement from the City of Birmingham to desegregate lunch counters, restrooms, drinking fountains and fitting rooms within 90 days, and to hire black people in stores as salesmen and clerks.

This agreement did not stop the violence in Birmingham. Seventeen Days after the March on Washington the Klan bombs the 16th Steen Baptist Church. 

Four girls killed in the bombing (clockwise from top left): Addie Mae Collins (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Carole Robertson (14), and Carol Denise McNair (11)


Primary Documents