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A happy day in Birmingham. May 10th 1963 Birmingham testament of nonviolence part 1. And here is the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. I am very happy to be able to announce that we have come today to the climax of the long struggle for justice, freedom, and human dignity in the city of Birmingham. I say the climax, and not the end. For though we have come a long long way, that is still a strenuous path before us and some of it is yet uncharted. Nevertheless it can now be said that after a great struggle this day is clearly the moment of a great victory. The news is that is all [inaudible], it's really true and
they have promised to integrate the lunch counters downtown, the restroom, and the jobs, [inaudible] and everything, they're gonna give 'em jobs and they got only two weeks for some of them, 60 days for some of them, 90 days is the limits of time. It's all [inaudible] and I'm very proud of it, I don't know but I'm glad it is [inaudible], didn't want to see no blood sheddin'. I'm happy with it. To the extent that it was successful as far as it went, it was successful- very successful as far as the specific demands and goals of of the movement was concerned, but I don't think it's really significant, I don't think what they received in the way of concessions was really significant in themselves, but rather in the implications that they might have. As yet, I think it's a pretty good day. Mm-hmm. We all are proud our children will say that much. Because they really have suffered and I'm glad [inaudible]
this is all over for them too. [background talking and singing] I have one daughter, she's in jail, but I'm grateful that as this is all over maybe, after all we all will, y'know, benefit from that, you know how perps are going to jail. When I was, when I heard it it was over the radio. I was driving in, coming in from Leeds, Alabama over here, and I was coming in on Third Avenue, and it came over the radio and said this committee had made an agreement, and that they were going to compromise with the negro on desegregation of the lunch counters, the water fountains and also the restrooms. Well it upset me pretty highly, I mean, to give you my honest viewpoint I would, I didn't take to the idea too much, because, myself, I just can't hardly see a
negro using the same restroom that I use, not that I think that I'm the Almighty or better than he is, it's not that. It's just a little matter of the cleanliness and the morals and everything else, I mean, everyone knows that, I believe that everyone knows that negroes carry a very high rate of venereal diseases, and myself, I don't wish to catch 'em. Now if this self-appointed committee is all hopped up over the idea, and they want to use a restroom with them and catch all this, well, that's fine with me, just as long as I don't have to do it. But I was upset over it, I'll be truthful with you, I don't agree with it one bit in the world, I never will, I don't believe. Prayers and non-violence will change some things because we have God Almighty, that's who I trust in myself. [singing] [singing]
[singing] A song of freedom. This is Walter Nixon and Jack Summerfield at the St. John Church, 15th Street and 7th Avenue, Birmingham, Alabama. Friday night, May 10th. [singing] [singing] More than two thousand negroes are packed into this church. Overflowing the sanctuary and balconies, the staircases and out onto the sidewalk of 15th Street. The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy and other negro integration leaders are here tonight. The Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth, head of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights is not here. Four hours ago he was taken to Birmingham's Holy Family
Hospital. Here is Dr. Ralph Abernathy. [singing stops, clapping] Amen, Amen. Give me a big hand. [applause] Tonight [applause] Tonight Tonight is victory night and you oughta stand up for me. [more applause] When I, when I said victory night I do not mean a victory just for the Negro in Birmingham but I mean a victory for Alabama, I mean a victory for the white man, I mean a victory for the United States of America. And I mean a victory for the free world everywhere. [more cheering and clapping] This is
victory night. [more applause] I'm not going to make a long speech tonight. I'm not going to take but three minutes, and according to the clock I've already had one half of those minutes, since I've been up here tonight I don't have to prove to anybody I can speak. This is Doctor [inaudible] coming in from Los Angeles, California. [applause] [applause] Doctor, come over here, Doctor. Doctor Hudson, Doctor Hudson is the richest Negro in Los Angeles. [applause] [applause] [applause] He is the, he is the owner of the Broadway Federal Mutual Loans Association in Los Angeles, take our picture real nice. [laughing, applause]
[applause] And, and he came, he came all the way from Los Angeles, to see about us. [cheering, applause] [applause] Whenever Dr. King is in Los Angeles, or I am in Los Angeles, Dr. Hudson is always there, wherever we are he stays with us from the beginning to the end. He's on the National Board of the NAACP, last night they had a meeting with Roy Wilkins and NAACP leaders in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and he came on over here to Birmingham and when he got here was disappointed and discovered that he didn't have to go to jail. [laughter, cheering] [applause] [inaudible speech] Now, now I told you I wasn't gonna speak but three minutes, I'm gonna let him have one minute of that time right now. [inaudible background speech] [applause] Dr. Abernathy,
Dr. King and the wonderful people of Birmingham, my people. I bring you greetings from California and I want to leave one word with you: continue this fight. We must continue this fight until the words in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag means what it says when its says liberty and justice for all. [applause] [applause] And when people tell you the time ain't right, you tell them that when they call your boy, your brother, your son or your husband to the army, nobody told you the time wasn't right. [applause] [applause] [applause] And last April
and in the fall of the year, when you were called upon to pay your taxes nobody said to you since you're a negro it'll be 10 it'll be 10 or 20 years before the time is right to pay your taxes. [applause] [applause] [applause] My boy died on the fields of Normandy. And many of you give your sons or husbands or brothers to the cause of freedom. If my boy and your boy could die for freedom it is your duty to live for freedom. [applause] He's a terrible speaker, isn't he? He know I'll never give up another minute to him. See I don't mind
giving up my minutes to poor speakers, but, but good speakers like him makes it rough for me. [laughter] Now my friends, I'm just going to say two things and going to my seat. Number one, this thing is not over. Dr. King is going to tell you some more about it. I don't know what he's going to say. He can say it. Cause he's God's man and he knows how to say it. But I wanna say it to you just in case he forgets to tell ya. That this thing is not over as yet. And we must still stick together. And we are, and when I say we, I'm talking about Martin Luther King, and Ralph Abernathy and the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is going to be here with you until the merchants put into practice
what they have promised to do. [applause] Now, now I started I started to have a protest this evening. Some of my friends had never seen me like this before. I started to have a protest. I went to the hospital to see the leader of this community. We all know who the leader is – Fred Shuttlesworth. The last thing Fred said to me before you left the press conference was "Ralph I want you to go to 16th Street Baptist Church and meet with the students. And then come to the hospital and see me." And I went out to that hospital and they didn't want to let me see him. And I didn't like it one bit. Now you know I'll raise sand anywhere and at any time. I believe in being loyal to my leaders. Martin Luther King is my leader.
When he was stabbed in New York City, I got the next plane and when I got there and he said "no, nobody came to see him." I said, "you don't know who you talkin' to." [laughter] Open up the door and let me in! And when I got through telling 'em who I was, they said "okay come right in, Doctor." And I went out there this evening and they come telling me, talking about the doctor doesn't put him to bed and he couldn't rest. And I started to tell him that if I was breathing my last breath, I would want Fred Shuttlesworth to hold one hand. And Martin Luther King to hold other one. [applause] And I would want my wife to hold my head. [applause] But just because just because Dr. King told me not to raise sand I wouldn't turn that hospital out. But I wanted to
see Fred Shuttlesworth. And I wanted to bring a report back here. And Fred Shuttlesworth is not so sick that Ralph Abernathy seeing him would have killed him. It would have made him feel better. And you tell him I said so. [applause] Now, God has given us a leader. Fred Shuttlesworth is a great man. He's a great man. And Milton Smith is a great man. I I hold here in my pocket right now a check for one thousand dollars which Milton Smith went to New York City and spoke and made such a stern address that they sent the Southern Christian Leadership Conference one thousand dollars and I got the check here right now.
[applause] Reverend Gardner is a great man. All of these preachers are great men. But there isn't but one Martin Luther King. [applause] [applause] God sent him to lead us to freedom. Are you gonna follow him? Is he our leader? [audience cheering] Then say King! [audience cheering] [audience cheering, applause] Thank you very kindly, my dear friends and as I've said so often, my fellow
citizens of Birmingham, Alabama, because I really feel like Birmingham is home now. [audience cheering, applause] And I think that I should say to you that although we have reached certain agreements in this struggle I do not plan to leave Birmingham on a permanent basis, I will be right here with you for a long, long time. [applause] [applause] I said to the members of my staff that we should not feel that this is a time for us to leave our brothers and sisters in Birmingham. But that we should commit ourselves
to being in and out, and to staying here with the situation until every agreement that has been made by the merchants and by others has been met and carried out. [applause] Now I want to read a statement that I read in the press conference this afternoon and I think it will give you an idea or at least explain to you exactly what has been accomplished, accomplished over these last few days and then I will take some excerpts through the statement read by your president, Reverend Shuttlesworth, at the press conference which explains the
agreements made. Now for the first statement: I am very happy to be able to announce that we have come today to the climax of the long struggle for justice, freedom and human dignity in the city of Birmingham. I say the climax and not the end. For though we have come a long, long way, that is still a strenuous path before us, and some of it is yet uncharted. Nevertheless it can now be said that after a great struggle, this day is clearly the moment of a great victory. The greatness of the triumph is measured by this one fact: it is a victory that
cannot possibly be confined to the limited area of one race. Indeed, the agreements which have been reached over the last few days are signal accomplishments which redound to the credit of all of Birmingham's citizens. As a matter of fact I believe sincerely that this victory cannot even be confined within the limits of this sprawling metropolis, for Birmingham now stands on the threshold of becoming a great, enlightened symbol, shedding the radiance of its example throughout this entire nation. Credit for what has been done must go to many persons, without question of course the name of the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth stands clear as a magic name in this magic city.
He has walked a long and often lonesome road to reach this day, and even now his health is impaired. But he has just reason to be thankful and glad. But all of his great sacrifices, moreover the many men and women who worked with him by his side and behind the scenes in the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights must also be praised, and without a doubt the world will never forget the thousands of children and adults who gave up their own physical safety and freedom and went to jail, to secure the safety and freedom of all men. I must say this, too, in these recent days I have been deeply impressed by the quality
of the white persons of the community who worked so diligently for just solutions to our mutual problems. They must also be given real credit. They are men of good will. However when all is said and done, when this situation is seen in the perspective of eternity, ultimate credit and glory and honor must be given to the Almighty God. For he has clearly been at work among us. And it is he alone who has finally gained the victory for all of his children. Under his guidance we now enter into a new day for Birmingham's people, a day when men will no longer fear to speak the truth, and citizens will no longer cringe before the threats of misguided men. We look forward now to continued progress
toward the establishment of a city in which equal job opportunities, equal access to public facilities and equal rights and responsibilities for all of its people will be the order of every day. However even these needful things are not our final goals. The deepest hope that surges up within our hearts is this: that Birmingham is on its way to the creation of a new kind of community, not simply a new image, but a new reality. We are looking forward to that moment, so nearly upon us, when this metropolis will truly become a magic city again, this time filled with the beautiful magic of a new brotherhood, where men are free to know, respect and love each other. We seek ultimately a magic city where
color will no longer be the measure of a man's worth, where character will matter more than pigmentation. I cannot close without saying that the Negro community must accept this achievement in the right spirit. We must not see the present development as a victory for the Negro. It is rather a victory for democracy in the whole citizenry of Birmingham, Negro and white. Our growth in nonviolence has been such that we cannot be satisfied with a victory over our white brothers. We must respond to every new development in civil rights with an understanding of those who have opposed us and with an appreciation of the new adjustments that the new achievements pose for them. We must be able to face up honestly to our own shortcomings.
We must act in such a way as to make possible a coming together of white people and colored people on the basis of real harmony of interests and understanding. This is the time that we must evince calm dignity and wise restraint. Emotion must not run wild. Violence must not come from any of us. For if we become victimized with violent acts or intents the pending daybreak of progress will be transformed into a gloomy midnight of retrogress. As we stand on the verge of using public facilities heretofore closed to us, we must not be overbearing and haughty in spirit. We must be loving enough to turn an enemy into a friend. We must now move from protest to reconciliation. This too is our hope for Birmingham. It is a hope that will cause us to look at the signs, which
say "It's nice to have you in Birmingham", in a new way. Now we will know that these words are meant for all of God's children, and we will know that they are sincere, then and only then will all the citizens of this community be able to say in joyful response: "Thank you. It's great to be in Birmingham, a city of honor, respect and brotherly love." Now, I want to go over with you the specific agreements that have been made. We told you that we were dealing with four points. Number one, we said that we are tired of segregation, and that we would seek to break down the barriers of segregation in the places that we spend our money. We asked for desegregation of the lunch counters, fitting rooms, restrooms, and
water fountains. The agreement calls for number one, the desegregation of lunch counters, restrooms, fitting rooms and drinking fountains in planned stages within the next 90 days. Now do you know Birmingham is doing something that even the so-called progressive Atlanta, Georgia didn't do when we made our agreement after our sit-ins to get integration at lunch counters. They were integrated after six months, but here in Birmingham it's after 90 days. We are moving on to Freedom Land. [applause] Now this will be in order to assure, ensure a smooth transition over planned stages, and to keep these mobs from getting
aroused, you know, the Klan, they still live somewhere. We're not announcing the dates right now. We didn't do it for the press this morning but each of these will be done. Now the first one I'm going to announce tonight, the press isn't here so I'll announce the first one, and I'm going to run along with Ralph Abernathy to Atlanta tomorrow to be at our churches Sunday but we'll be right back here Monday. Now the first development will be Monday, it's supposed to be three days after the settlement. Now, we settled today, now Monday would be three days. The fitting rooms will be integrated by Monday so you'll know now that the fitting rooms are integrated, starting Monday. Now we will let you know the second stage and I will, I'll let you know that the second will be the water fountains and the restrooms. And I will let you know exactly when that's gonna be, we're gonna do this through the mass meetings, so that number one
is clear, and this is a great victory for justice in Birmingham. They have agreed to desegregate all of the facilities in the stores of Birmingham, Alabama. And I think this is a great and significant victory. Number two, we made it clear that we were tired of getting poor jobs, we are tired of being the last hired and the first fired. We made that very clear. We made it clear that we wanted some jobs that are comparable to the jobs that any white person can get in Birmingham. Now this is the agreement: The upgrading and hiring of Negroes on a nondiscriminatory basis throughout the industrial community of Birmingham. This will include the hiring of Negroes - listen to this - as clerks and salesmen within the
next 60 days. [applause] And this means when you go down [Applause] This means when you go down
Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence
Episode Number
Part 1
A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 1963 [Part 1 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).
Broadcast Date
Created Date
Asset type
Social Issues
Race and Ethnicity
African Americans--Civil rights--History
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: Summerfield, Jack
: Nixon, Walter
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Speaker: Abernathy, Ralph David, 1926-1990
Speaker: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: cpb-aacip-868fe86b120 (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:00
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Chicago: “Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 1; A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 1963 [Part 1 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 June 20, 2024,
MLA: “Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 1; A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 1963 [Part 1 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. June 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence; Part 1; A Happy Day in Birmingham, May 10, 1963 [Part 1 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