thumbnail of Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 1; A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 1963 [2 of 2]
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And then our committee will be appointed within two weeks, composed of business, industrial and professional leaders to get Negroes in new positions that they've never been in before Throughout the tollroad industrial complex ?abandon an? Alabaman I ask for some clerks in the stores, Negro clerks, so when you go down you see some Negros standing behind these counters. But we're gonna get that, but even more. We're getting more than we asked for on this point. point. No other city in the South, I want you to listen to this, has gone this far on the question of employment. This is a significant victory for the city of Birmingham, Alabama. [applause] Now, you've been to jail, do you feel that you went to jail in vain, if going to jail you're gonna get all these new jobs, don't you think it was really wonderful to go to jail? [Audience applause]
Now on the third point. We made it clear in our negotiating sessions over the last two or three days that this movement and these demonstrations would not stop, that the movement would not bring a halt to the demonstrations. Unless all of the people in jail come out. [Audience applause] We would not gonna leave anybody in jail. We made it very clear that this had to be done. We talked in terms of the dropping of the charges, and and this I am happy to say is being worked on. These cases are going to be handled and something good is in the making on this point. The first thing, the city of Birmingham doesn't want the burden of having
to try some 3000 people, they'd be trying these cases until my little 7 year old daughter is in college. [Audience laughing] So that things are going to be worked out there, but I'm happy to say to you this evening, I'm happy to say to you that everybody is either out of jail or on the way out of jail that has been arrested in this movement. [applause] Now this has been made possible by several things. They have made a plan whereby all of the persons up to 16 can get out merely by the signing of something by the parents and another person and then bar money was provided for all of the other persons so that everybody is out of jail, or they will be out in a few hours. We had some 800 to get out today and it takes a long time to get eight people- eight hundred
people out so if you have anybody in jail, rest assured that they will be out tonight and if they just find it impossible to get to all of them tonight they will certainly be out by tomorrow morning. Now, the final point to re-ask for was a biracial committed to deal with these other things and I'm happy to say to you that this is in the making. Now already the senior citizens committee have made it clear that communication will be established between Negro and white citizens of this community within the next two weeks and through this channel of communication we will begin to work to get all of these other things moving. Get the parks open, to get public school integration and to get jobs in the city. We want to see some Negro policeman. [Audience applause] Right here in Birmingham. Now I hope you can see this, I took time to do this because I think it's
most important that you have not struggled and you have not suffered in vain. And if I wasn't a little hoarse tonight I could preach about the meaning of what you've done, now don't let anybody fool you, they might try to tell you, they may try to say that they planned to do all of this anyway. But, but as late, I got this from a source that I can't reveal, but they were in a meeting downtown just the other day. It was the day that we had the big development with thousands of students going downtown in what we now call the singing movement, you know, Negroes don't own the city and they singing, They were going in your store and sitting and singing while they are sitting in your store, And uh I know that they were in a meeting, the leaders of this community, the business and industrial leaders, talking about this thing. And the men
who were talking with were in despair. They had about given up they said nothing we could do, because our business professional leaders were saying, we're tired of these n*ggers, and there's nothing to do but call the Nat- tell the government to send the National Guard here and get this thing on the martial law. We've tried to do what we could do but these, these n*ggers just aren't going to stop, and we just can't, we're not gonna put up with it. And that's the way to stop them. And then they had their lunch hour. And they went out for lunch and when they got out there and saw all those Negroes standing on the sidewalk singing We Shall Overcome and ain't gonna let nobody Turn Me Round", I heard that when they got back in there after the luncheon they saying "Now let's see, we, I think we could grant point one," and they moved on down to point two and extended that.
Now I'm saying this in a humorous vein but I'm very serious. Do not underestimate the power of this movement and these same would not have been granted without your presenting your bodies and your very lies before the dogs and the tanks and the water hoses of this city. [applause] And then another thing, you know, the United States is concerned about its image. When things started happening down here Mr. Kennedy got disturbed, for Mr Mr. Kennedy had to sit around tables of the world and sometimes Mr. Kruschev is on the other side, and he He is battling for the minds and the hearts of men in Asia and Africa. Some one billion men in the neutralest sector out of the world, and they aren't going to respect the United States of America, if
she deprived men and women of the basic rights of life because of the color of their skin. Mr. Kennedy knows this. And Associated Press got a picture of a dog biting a young man and that man didn't have his hands out. He didn't have his hands up and he didn't have a knife in his hand but if you saw that picture, it was a boy standing with his arms down non-violently and a dog biting him and when that picture went all over Asia and Africa and England and France, Mr. Kennedy said, "Bobby, you better get your assistant down there to look into this matter. It's a Dangerous situation for our image abroad., And I'm telling you nothing has so stirred the conscience of this nation as this Birmingham movement. I can think of nothing, and I say it is one who has been in several struggles for freedom over the last few years, well I have never
seen people as aroused over any development that we've had as they have been over Birmingham where they saw Birmingham where they saw 6 year old children being arrested. But one thing, they knew they were being arrested for. They they may not been able to spell the word and pronounce it right, but a little six year old girl was in the line and they tell me that the policeman stopped and say, "What do you want?" and she looked up, "Feedom!" [applause] [applause] Yeah, this is a great This is a really great movement. Nothing has so aroused the conscience of this nation. You know I have caused just yesterday. People, the National Council of Negro Women, they may still be coming, I'm not sure, but they were going to bring hundreds of women here for Mother's
Day. They wanted to come to make a witness from all over America. A group from New York, said they had two planeloads, charter planes, ready to come, from California, Dr. Hudson's community, I had a call, from Reverend Maurice Dawkins and Reverend Marvin Robinson, Sandra Day were coming down with a plane load from Los Angeles. Then I got a call from Reverend Larry Oldham of Denver saying he was bringing a group down next week. And then I got a call from Harry Belafonte this morning and he said, "Martin, I talked with you yesterday and it looked like the settlement was coming, but I read some things that looked like it wouldn't come, and I want you to know we have 3000 people ready to go this morning to Washington to picket around the White House, and we just want to know if there's a message here. [applause] Now this is an This is an amazing thing and it's to make all of us feel happy. And
then we had our friends, you met the Jewish rabbis who came. Oh, we are thankful to God that there are hundreds of white people of good will and thousands and millions who are with us. We have our friend Dr Stagg here tonight of the American Baptist Convention, who has come and he made it very clear that he was ready to participate in the demonstrations if necessary. We're happy to have Dr. Hudson tonight, that great courageous humanitarian who has labored over the years for all of this. And finally, I'm thankful to God for the leaders of this community. I'm thankful to God for Fred Shuttlesworth. [applause] And the goodness of God is found in the fact that he has placed at his side
some of the most dedicated, courageous and intelligent men that you can find anywhere. God has given to this city over the last year, just think about it, in 18 months our group of powerful, young, dedicated ministers of the gospel. You have done a great work here. I don't know if we on our I don't know if we all our staff have inspired Birmingham but you have certainly inspired us. [applause] Now let me say finally, that we cannot allow the enthusiasm of this movement to pass because we've won a victory which is a significant victory. First thing we've got to
be sure that these things are carried out. Now, my friends, the boycott is still on, we made it clear in the negotiating session that we would halt the demonstrations but that the boycott would continue. But this is the way we are sure. [audience applause] This is the way we are sure. And that we are sure ourselves that these agreements will be met, now we will tell you when to call the boycott off. And I tell you off the record that they planned to do these things even in less time than they stayed here. They wanted us to give them the maximum number of days, but they planned to do it in less time than that because this boycott is really hurting, they admitted that behind closed doors. So let us be sure So let us be sure to keep this movement going. Now the thing
is this, we are going to work for the next few weeks in voter registration. Now I want to say to you that I don't intend to ask my staff people who are so dedicated and you know them, we've introduced them. We've introduced them several times. they can work long enough with you, and the leaders of the voter registration program of this community to double the number of Negro registered voters in Birmingham, now we can do that. We've demonstrated our power in the area of nonviolent direct action, now let's get now known as let's get political power through the gaining of the ballot. God bless you and we will see you Monday night. [applause] Let us all say Amen. "Amen!" Let everybody say Amen.
"Amen". This is our leader, he has spoken with power tonight, now let me say this to you, my friends, On tomorrow morning we want all of the students together at 16th street to get involved in a voter registration drive. We want them to go on a door-to-door campaign, knocking on doors and making a survey, getting the names and addresses of all of the people who are not registered voters in your block. We have unbearable, we'll be able to tell you more about that. Now what are you to do on Monday? On Monday you ought to send your children to school just like nothing has ever happened. Now, nobody has been suspended
and just don't assume that they're going to be suspended, But let us send them home to school just like nothing has happened. And then if they are suspended, We told the negotiating committee that we would have to let them know that those students were going to get every other student in school, and the first day they were going to march around that school. And then the second day, if they hadn't invited them back in, they were gonna head on over to the white school. Now keep that in mind Monday. See to it that every child is in school just like nothing happened. And if they don't say nothing to you
about it, tell them, say, you just keep your mouth, don't say nothing to them about it. But if they call you in, going in, if the Superintendent call you in, then tell them that I learned in your school system that our nation was created under God, and dedicated to the principle that all men are created equal, that your teachers taught us that all citizens had the same rights and that they were guaranteed them by the Constitution, and we believed it 'cause the white folk told us so. And look 'em dead in the eyes as you tell them that. Now. They're sending for us already. They're sending for Martin Luther King and Ralph Abernathy and [unclear] already. Albany, Georgia want us to come.
Read in the Wall Street Journal tonight, where Reverend, where Dr Anderson told him, so that if you win the victory in Birmingham, said that I'm already told the Chief of Police he may as well clean out the jails in Albany 'cause we on our way. Nashville, Tennessee wants us right now. You saw on television tonight, I know. Nashville. Knoxville, Tennessee wants us, and Mobile is trying to get around us 'cause they gone ahead and appointed their bi-racial committee. Jackson Mississippi call us and wanted us. But I'm here to tell we can't go anywhere we can go in and where on telly every one of these promises is carried out right here in Birmingham. But, but as soon as these promises have been carried out,
we got to move on. Now, my friends, I want to introduce the man who is going to bring you the pep talk tonight. He is a man who needs no introduction, I've known him a long time. [unclear] one of our great churches here. He is going to give us a message on a backward look at a famous ball game, Fiveball Nelson Smith. A crucial game in the World Series of Desegregation has been played in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King, Jr. has served as General Manager of freedom's team.
Fred Shuttlesworth has been pitching. Ralph Abernathy has been behind the plate. Wyatt T. Walker has served as field manager. Andrew Young served at, as first base coach. James Bevel coached at third. Charles Billups served in left field. Abraham Woods served in center field. Bernard Lee served in right field. A.D. King playing first base and John Porter was playing third and Lindsay was playing second and yours truly was at shortstop. [loud applause and cheering] And the Negro community of Birmingham
was ready when called to take the field. God is the great commissioner of the Freedom League. The United States Supreme Court Justices umpired the game. Governor Wallace hasn't had a hit all season. [laughter, applause] [applause] Mayor, Mayor Art Hanes has a Charley Horse. Commissioner Waggoner has been benched. And Bull Connor has a sore knee, an ailing back, a sick head and a twisted heart. [applause] A happy day in Birmingham is drawing to a close, and once more, as at every meeting, those assembled tonight in the St.
John Church rise, join hands and sing "We shall overcome someday." Then a final prayer. [singing] [singing "I do believe, we shall overcome someday"] Let's hum it real soft, real soft, let's hum it softly. [Humming in background] Shall we lower our heads and close our eyes, let each of us as we hum ask the Lord to come within us, ask that the Holy Spirit will deal with you. Each of you meditate upon what these events have meant for you. Of how good it has all been
to know that you are working toward that which you want most of all. Think of this as you pray. Now let all of us pray together, realizing what good things God has brought in our midst in Birmingham, Alabama. Not only do we who are Negroes but to white persons as well. Then let us pray to the God of us all. Father, our good and loving father, you called us, Lord, Telling us to go out into all the world, and to preach thy Gospel not only with our mouths but by the way we live. And there have been times, O Lord, when we have talked this without doing it,
there have been times we've told each other that it should be done but we did not do it. We ask you, Lord, to forgive us for all those times when we blamed you, when we were to blame for not doing what you had told us to do. Forgive each one of us here, O Lord. And now, Lord, we ask you to bless us. And we thank you, Lord, for protecting us when we did what you told us to do. For being with us and walking by our sides when dogs were loosed upon us. By placing a fire in us it was greater than the water hoses outside of us. And giving us the strength, O Lord, to bear days of jail and days of degradation.
To bear what it was that was placed against us in terms of nervousness and fear. We thank thee, O Lord, for being with us when we thought we'd be by ourselves. And now, Lord, we ask that thy presence will be strong in this place, that you descend upon all of us here, that thy Holy Spirit will work in our midst, and that, Lord, don't let us go from this place without your spirit going with us. Be with us tonight as we go into the streets. Be with us tonight as we speak to our parents. Be with us as we speak to our neighbors about the need to register to vote. Help us to let them know, Lord, that you want these things. That together we can build a kingdom that only you could see and that you sent your prophets to show to us. O Lord, as we go from this place helps us to lose our fears, to, not
to work out of the context of fear but the new courage that you have given us, realizing that the weakness of love is more powerful than all the police dogs, that the weakness of love is more powerful than the pistols in the police force, letting us envision, Lord, a new world that can come. Now, Lord, we ask to be dismissed from this place but not from thy presence. We ask, O Lord, that as we go that your Son will go behind us that we will not go back to segregation and degradation, that He will be behind us and we will take no steps backward, that He will be behind us and we will not be turned around, that He will be below us, that we will not fall to the passions of hate, that He will be below us, that we will not fall to the passion within us to, to fight back, that He will be below us that we will not go to [unclear]
We ask, O Lord, that your son Christ will be ahead of us as we move on to clear Birmingham of all of its hindrances as we move on to clear this Nation of its problems, we ask that thy Son will be above us as we walk upward toward [unclear] as we create here and now the Kingdom of God on Earth, that it might be like that Kingdom that is in Heaven. In His name we pray. Amen. [singing] "And we shall overcome some day. [singing] "Oh deep in our hearts, [singing "I do believe"] [singing "We shall overcome"] A happy day in Birmingham, May 10th, 1963. This mass meeting celebrating the negotiated settlement of the 38 day nonviolent direct action integration campaign in
Birmingham Alabama, was covered and recorded exclusively by Riverside Radio WRVR, the FM station of the Riverside Church in the city of New York. Speaking to the more than 2,000 Birmingham Negroes overflowing the St. John Church were the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, his principal aide, the Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy and other leaders of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement. This program was produced by Riverside radio WRVR for the Educational Radio Network and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. Reporting from Birmingham, Jack Somerfield and Walter Nixon. This is the NAEB Radio Network.
Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence
Episode Number
Part 1
A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 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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Episode Description
A documentary recorded on Friday, May 10, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, where an agreement between leaders of the civil rights movement and city officials had recently been negotiated to end racial segregation in lunch counters, fitting rooms, restrooms, and water fountains; to end employment discrimination in industry; to release jailed demonstrators; and to establish a biracial committee to integrate schools, the police force, and parks, in addition to dealing with other issues. The agreement was reached after images of police attacking protesting children with dogs and fire hoses shocked the nation and world, and more than 1,000 students were jailed. The documentary includes commentary from various unnamed persons in Birmingham, in addition to speeches by Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King optimistically views the agreement as a path "to the creation of a new kind of community." He notes that the worldwide circulation of pictures of police using dogs and fire hoses to attack protesting children disturbed President Kennedy, who was trying to win the hearts and minds of neutral nations in Asia and Africa during the Cold War conflict with the Soviet Union. The program 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. 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 David, 1926-1990
Speaker: Smith,
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: cpb-aacip-90a9e074e22 (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:31
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Chicago: “Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 1; A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 1963 [2 of 2],” 1963-05-31, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 27, 2024,
MLA: “Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 1; A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 1963 [2 of 2].” 1963-05-31. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 27, 2024. <>.
APA: Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 1; A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 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