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How can we fail to give support to this kind of nonviolent effort to ignite the ideals of American democracy real. The negroes. From the very beginning. Has been the backbone. Of the home. Of the Church of the community she has carried a major responsibility. And Mary much of the suit some years ago was called upon. And not to write a chapter in a book and the book was about what the Negro wants. And I'll never forget this is. Coming to a group a group of people together and sitting them down and sang. Now tell me how I should write my chapter of this book. And after a lot of been said she summed it up at least what she said I know what the Negro wants. He wants what everyone else wants. He wants the chance for his children to go to school he wants a decent house a decent job and she said that's what he wants. And the reason you are here today and all of us
in this room I'm sure. Follow in the tradition of Mary McLeod Masood. Who felt. That it was important that we give. Our best. To strike. Them. In every. Way that we could. The moral fiber of our country. It was she who taught us to be concerned about our young people. And. I recall. That nothing has been more inspiring than the wonderful words of her last will and testament in which she said I leave you. And I leave you. Racial dignity. I leave you a respect for cars. I leave you. The importance of developing confidence one another. I leave you racial dignity I leave you with a thirst for education and I leave you finally a sense of responsibility for our young people. We feel that as mothers as daughters as workers in our community as teachers
as women. In every walk of life we at this moment cannot let our of course be silent. We must let it be known. That we believe in our children. And that we can understand when after years of deprivation and discrimination and segregation are mostly children who spontaneously reach out in the search for their freedom. We can only be glad that we have the quality of Christian leadership that we have. And those who are working here in the situation and in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. To see to it that our direction is sound. And that our efforts are nonviolent that love. Somehow does. Terror not only of the second cheek but the third and the fourth. We want our children to grow up. So that they will be worthy of their great heritage. Because every black man has a great heritage. But we
also want our children to grow up in a free community because all of us have put our hearts and our minds together. To help make it so. And there is no greater message that we could bring to you. Than that of our continued support and our realization that there are many lessons that we can learn from you that there are many lessons that you are teaching our whole country because you're helping us all to see that this is not a runaway and. That there has to be a give and take that people have to listen to us and we have to listen to others. But that somehow. We will not rest until we have a chance to let our own voices be heard. To ask for those things that we need that we want for ourselves and for all. And therefore. I want to. Ask you to know. That women across this country are with you. And we leave
Birmingham. I'm sure. It. Was a determination never to let the chalk find us something to hide. Or our voices silent when we command our moral support. And I hope that you will know. That we go home. To know you are. Far too comfortable in here. Or to New Jersey or to whatever state. With the realization that all the work that needs to be done is not in Birmingham. But that we can certainly learn. From the quality of your leadership. You know. Left. Across this country women go in prayer. And indeed. They working with. The National Council of Negro Women was called together by Mary McLeod Bethune because she said. We needed to learn to unite. And I know that you will be rightly heartened to see that women have come from distance not that we
could not have spoken at home alone. Not that we are not individual organizations. But that we ourselves recognize that on this thing we are at one and the same. And that we will all get the most to come. As we work together. And I say God bless the leaders here Dr. King Dr. Shuttleworth Dr. Abernethy Dr. Spence I could just go on. Every single person every man every woman every child. And may the future be brighter. Because we in a spirit of love moved through these dark hours knowing that it is what we are able to do for our country at this moment. That will count and that it will be important because in our minds we are seeking no personal gains and no special privileges. We only want. For our children. For
ourselves and for the future. Those rights guaranteed to us by our Constitution and the land that all of us love. And I want to say again thanks to you. God bless you. And I know that. Everyone. On this platform. Would join you. In. Sending a very special. Word of message. Back. To you. And we will also take one. Back into every community and every organization know that the National Council of Negro Women and all of us are hand in hand with you all of us with our hand in God's hand. We've thanks at this time a decrease of a net increase.
Thank you very kindly Reverend God. Decrease it. I don't know if I can increase and I. Doubt that that is possible at all. But I can say to you to be back home. Tonight. I was restless and Atlanta Georgia. When during the night. Ever see. A telephone call that. A tragedy had struck this city. I knew that time had come for me in my stay in Atlanta. And. Come back to Birmingham from Napa what I listen to the White House in Washington D.C.. And President Kennedy said that state trooper
was on their way if. You were. Was there were. No I don't didn't he said that. Why he's sad that he had authorized was Defense Secretary McNamara. To make the necessary to
take the necessary steps. So if it became possible. In. That day and Gneisenau God not here in Alabama Baath would be federalized. They were. I. Was. Taught we. Would. Have not placed our goal. And I was just in the federal MA shows on in Federal Hall in the national God. We face a playstyle hole in deep turn oh oh I don't mind you God I live in the
sand pit soul one jot. All killed a mild. Failure. They have wondered. What. Feelin. That is where. I came to rest today. He pawn and Saddam was in the Philippian jailer. He's. Down in the mountains have. You heard Shadrach Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Was. He good to the children of Israel. Down in Egypt. And caught up with noses in the land of myth then told them. To go back to Egypt. And. Say growth to let my people go. I have caught up today with Martin Luther King. In this sophisticated would then download it when
news a Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia preaching the gospel to his congregation. Dawn shook him on the shoulder. And Jenna Bush is blowing in Birmingham. Down in Egypt's land. And. Then there's this state too close to half the dot. People go through. Martin Luther King has come out because he is upon the bay mic and he's come because he cannot go nowhere else. He's come because god. Has directed him to come here. To lead us. Own the victory he is the lead on he is the Mons is Fred Shuttlesworth is in the hospital. But we're not going to stop. Are we going to stop. Have. We gone to listen now to link up.
And what I love about the fact he's a mighty good really have you have. My dear friends when I. Left Berman house last night. I felt that maybe I could do two things that I had longed to do for several days. One was to get a good night's sleep. Because I had been getting about two or three hours sleep almost every hour last I mean every night. Last week we went along negotiating sessions and long strategy meetings with the Central Committee.
We didn't get much sleep so I thought sure I could go to Atlanta and at least get a good night's sleep. And secondly I thought that I would have. At least two days to spend with my family. A new daughter some six or seven weeks old and the other three children and my wife because I had just spent about five days with them out of the last 35 days. The other 30 I'd been in Birmingham at about the time I was about to close my eyes last night I got a call from my brother and he related to me what had just happened at that beautiful pasta job that and Stan and I was shocked. I was sorry to hear it and I. Said to myself It is tragic.
That in 1963 men and women sometimes will still sink to such low levels of moral degeneracy levels of soaring a balm on the porch a fellow human being is. Trying to blocks our longings and aspirations to be free. And so I didn't get to sleep in a Monkee because I was on the phone every house all almost talking to either why I had walked Rev. A.D. King my brother Mrs. King his wife and trying to keep in touch with the community in fact as I was talking with one he said wait a minute I think I hear another explosion I better run out and see what it is. And that was the explosion at the Gaston Motel. And so I did not get to get to sleep. Did I have a chance to stay
until tomorrow afternoon as I had planned I was planning to return here Monday afternoon. But when I saw what had happened I said I must go back to Birmingham not tomorrow afternoon but this afternoon. But I want my brothers and sisters of Birmingham to know that if we go down we all go down together and when we go up we all go up together. Thank God we are not alone. Those who have. Grown. And they have been concerned about our longings for freedom. They have come here from afar over the last two weeks to say to us we're with you and to say to us keep on keeping on.
Because in reality you are the saviors of democracy. You will save the soul of America. And so I am delighted to welcome and to our midst this afternoon these distinguished women who have come. From all over America. Some I have known vas some years we've worked together on various levels of this struggle for freedom and in various other areas. And it is a great pleasure to renew that fellowship. I think of Mrs. Darcy height and Dr. Jean noble and I can name all of the others I will not take time to do that. But these are some of the great women of our day and age. And it is significant that they come. On a day that has been set aside across the years as Mother's Day. And I can say to you that. We wouldn't have a better. Movement if the women were not present
in this movement. It is a great movement because we have many people in it but they are not just men. They are women and young ladies and young girls. And so I know that presence here means a great deal to each of us and it is of inestimable value for the continuance of on humble efforts. Now I want to talk with you I hope very soberly and very calm about last night. I want you to listen because we have a long long long way to go before we get total freedom in Birmingham. We have some agreements which are wonderful but we are not to feel that these agreements will bring about the millennium that is still a great deal to do. And I think we must
rely on this that that. Is the necessity of moving on and moving on with discipline and wise restraint. When we came here some 35 days ago. We mentioned to you something that you were well aware out on. We said that the city of Birmingham is the worst big city in the United States and maybe in the world including Johannesburg South Africa. We mentioned the reason why we said this Birmingham is the most starless segregated city in our country. Police brutality. Has been a notorious reality in this community.
We mentioned the fact that more than 18 m saw of the bomb in. A Negro churches and homes had taken place over the last five or six years. More than any city in the United States of America. Last night by men have. Lived up to hunt name. She became not only in Birmingham but bum in hand. So that was a explosion that the First Baptist Church of Insley and the explosion at. The Gaston Motel. Now we all Stan knowing in our hearts that this was a tragic act
that these acts of violence as Ralph his just say at. Odd expressions from the lunatic friends try to hold on to a dying system. Pretty soon they should know that you can't stop. An unstoppable movement. Pretty soon something will tell them that the attempt to. Block the onward move toward an integrated society is like standing on the beaches of history trying to hold the tide back. It just isn't possible. But they are still trying to do it. And so because of all of these bombings we inevitably have pent up emotions we inevitably have deep seated resentments we inevitably verge on those
dark and desolate moments of bitterness. These are the real temptations. We have a right and responsibility to condemn these acts and to condemn these bombings and to make it clear. That we will not stand by the wayside and allow these things to occur. Without saying to the nation and the world that they are wrong and we will protest against them. But I want to say to you soberly that we have another responsibility and I want you to move out into the hedges and the highways and the byways and get this message over. We must work passionately and unrelentingly for first class citizenship. But we must not use second class methods to gain it. In other words I'm saying to you that this is not to be a rock soaring
movement. I can understand as I said just now on these deep seated emotions these deep patterns of resentment that welled up in our hearts and in our minds I can understand that. And I want to say to you and I don't need to say it to you sitting here because I know you. Are way out of that but I want you to get it over to those who want a way out. I want to say once more that. We can win with Bob. We must be non violent just see the thing about violence is this when you retaliate with violence you don't work on the brother's conscience like it needs to be worked on. You. You see you cannot justify his actions and you allow his guilt to get bond. He doesn't feel as great a sense of guilt.
You see that is something about violence that begets violence that is something about force that begets force. That is something about hate that begets hate it is all ideas degenerating spiral descending no way out and somebody must have sense enough to cut off the chain of evil and hate. And I say to you from. The deep this areas I'm hot. That is still a voice crying through the vista of time saying to every potential Peter Put up your soul. History is replete with the bleached bones of nations history is cluttered with the wreckage of communities that failed to follow this command. That is another command echoing across the center is Love your enemy is bless them that curse you pray for them that despitefully use you. And on this through following this method can you matriculate into the university of eternal
life. This is what we must do and this is what we must live by. Now I want to ask you each of you as individuals to stop to night sang to your neighbors to your sons to your daughters to your friend. That we are not to engage in violence I hope you can believe in nonviolence as a creed as I do as a way of life. But if you can't go that far. At least believe in it as a reasonable technique. Don't let anybody tell you that this is a weak method. That is something strong about it. I look back over 300 in 81 days in Montgomery Alabama. Negroes of that community is substituted tired feet for tired souls and walk the streets of that city until. The surging I mean the crumbling walls of bus segregation were finally crushed by the
battering rams of the forces of justice. And I can report that the Negro citizens in Gage's did not a single act of retaliatory violence and they ended up with bus segregation I look back over 1968 and I see four students sitting down at lunch counters in Greensboro North Carolina and then watch that number as it grows and it is it increases and it reaches a thousand. And do you think this is a weak message. Just think about the fact that through this sit in movement. More than two hundred and ten sit is have integrated their lunch counters since 1960 this is not a weak method. It is a strong method. Thank God the demonstrators have not been violent and we are happy about that. Those of you have come to have come to mass meetings night after night have not been violent and we are happy about that. So you have. And then you have
discovered. That that is another way away as old as the insights of Jesus of Nazareth and as modern as the techniques of 100k Gandhi that is another way. Away as old as Jesus saying turn the other cheek as modern as the rose saying non-cooperation with the the is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. That is another way. A way as old as Jesus saying to men that love is the scent of reality. And as modern as Gunda saying to his followers the greatest force that you have is sown force the power of your own so that is another wing and we can easily be the spiritual and those that want a way out. Many are physical hamma asks. Mother's Day 1963 Birmingham's testament of
nonviolence. You have heard the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and Miss Dorothy Height of the National Board of Young Women's Christian Association speaking at a mass rally held on Mother's Day as a new Pilgrim Baptist Church. Thanks to you the tires and statements to their congregations by prominent Birmingham ministers and the reaction of Birmingham citizens both Negro and white to this violence marred Mother's Day Sunday Mother's Day in 1963 was produced by a w r b r c FM station of the Riverside Church in the city of New York for the educational radio network and the National Association of educational broadcasters. Reporting from Birmingham Jack Somerfield and Walter Nixon.
Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence
Episode Number
Part 3
Mother's Day, 1963 [2 of 2]
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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A documentary recorded in Birmingham, Alabama, Mothers Day, May 12, 1963. The previous night, the parsonage of A. D. King was bombed, as was the Gaston Motel, where Kings brother, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and a leader of the Birmingham movement, had been staying. Extensive rioting followed. The documentary includes commentary from various unnamed persons in Birmingham, including girls who participated in demonstrations and were arrested, and their mothers. The program also presents sermons by Birmingham clergy, Rev. Denson Franklin, Rev. Lamar Jackson, Rev. W. G. Burkett, Rev. John D. Lukens, and Rev. H. Frank Letford. At a gathering held at the New Pilgrim Baptist Church, Rev. Andrew Young from SCLC introduces a delegation from National Council of Negro Women visiting for Mothers Day. Mrs. A. G. Gaston introduces Dorothy Height of the National Board of the YWCA, who discusses the contributions of women to the movement. Speeches by Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. follow. King emphasizes the importance of nonviolence as a response to the violent actions of the previous day and relates achievements of the nonviolent sit-in movement that had resulted in the desegregation of 210 southern cities. The series was produced by Riverside Radio, WRVR, the FM station of the Riverside Church, New York City, for the Educational Radio Network and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. It was distributed by the National Association of Radio Broadcasters Network. New York Times critic Jack Gould called the series a first-class journalistic coup [that] constituted a remarkable social document for the ear. For information on the Birmingham movement, see Glenn T. Eskew, But for Birmingham: The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997).
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Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
African Americans--Civil rights--History
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: Nixon, Walter
: Summerfield, Jack
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Speaker: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Speaker: Abernathy, Ralph, 1926-1990
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: cpb-aacip-a3512f4523f (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:23
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Chicago: “Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 3; Mother's Day, 1963 [2 of 2],” 1963-06-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 26, 2022,
MLA: “Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 3; Mother's Day, 1963 [2 of 2].” 1963-06-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 3; Mother's Day, 1963 [2 of 2]. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from