Today is a day we can’t forget: “Double D Day,” Birmingham, Alabama.
In Birmingham that year, April had been a month of Civil Rights demonstrations, marches, rallies, picketing, boycotts, sit-ins.
The city had fought back, violently, and arrested hundreds of protestors, including Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” over the Easter weekend.)
By May, the effort was flagging. Adult protestors were exhausted, discouraged, beaten down.
Then came the Children’s Crusade: On Thursday, May 2, under Rev. James Bevel’s leadership, 1,500 black students skipped school and marched. 600 were arrested. 2,000 attended a rally that night.
The next day—Friday, May 3—1,000 students marched. Birmingham firemen blasted them with high-pressure hoses. Police sicced dogs on them and beat some with Billy clubs.
Over the weekend, 3,000 young people marched.
On Monday, fewer than 900 of the school district’s 7,500 black students attended class. The marches continued. Police arrested 2,425, overfilling the jail. Many were bused to the state fairgrounds. Some were housed in 4-H barracks, others kept outdoors in the rain.
The Children’s Crusade catapulted Birmingham into the national spotlight.
These photos—and others like them—brought the savagery of segregation into full view on America’s TV screens and daily newspapers, and inspired demonstrations across the country.
What a momentous spring! And what a gutsy commitment by the students of Birmingham.
Check our day-by-day timeline at http://www.terrymarshallfiction.com/Martin-Luther-King.html