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     Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4
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Keep Birmingham Southern Birmingham testament of nonviolence part five. From Birmingham spite citizens. Some reactions to integration efforts in this proud Southern city. Speaking at a public meeting held in the city auditorium Arthur Jay Haynes mayor of Birmingham during these months of mounting racial tensions and threw out the direct action integration campaign. Here is art Haynes. My friends I'm delighted to be with you this evening
to speak with you on some matters of utmost urgency. Tonight I will tell you the truth as I see it. No gossip. I shall seek only to face realities. And to face them without concealment. In the past 42 days we have become very race conscious. At the onset let me say to the so-called liberals or humanitarians of the present day ilk when I speak of race consciousness I do not speak with hatred nor intolerance. I speak with a deep awareness that race is a birthright that held in trust for posterity that I speak with a deep awareness of these things and there are in every group individuals who despite their birthright have been faithless to that trust. Birmingham is in my opinion one of the
last battleground for our great American principles. It great equality and forces of the world. I gained up to CD and have been for some months past to force upon these great peoples of Birmingham ideas ideals and principles. Which foreboded no good. I want laws concerning state and local government have not been placed for the welfare and happiness of any class of people. Not a one claims but for the greatest happiness of my own let me say this that the Southern states in Birmingham Alabama are the last outpost of racist living good manners. Warm hospitality that respect that courtesy and love of family life which is very important. The heartbeat of a strong foreign nation is in its homes where love of family and love of God and love of
country are to top of the list. I have had many wonderful things said to me about Birmingham. But I think the one statement made to me that I prize above all else was. I must demand you have a wonderful city. It is truly the youngest of the world's great city. You have a great abundance of sweet clear warm. You have all of these essential for the making the steel in great abundance here you are blessed with a great plan. But he said What makes you truly great as you know wonderful people and why they're so great is. That they are not ashamed to worship God and they're not ashamed to salute gentle Stars and Stripes. The executive director of the Alabama Council on human rights the Reverend Norman Jimerson.
Well this is one of those things that has been very dangerous. One of the members of the country club here in Mountain Brook. Invited Hugo Black chief justice United States to play golf. And of course for years is liberalism. Although he had formerly been a Klans member as liberalism has made him persona non grata. And passed a resolution at the Country Club that anybody who invited him to any function and even step on the grounds of the country club would. Be voted out of membership cannot remain a member. This is years ago. This kind of vicious backbiting childish behavior seems to be a part of Birmingham and one of those things that it's true of Birmingham is that this is the town that's been run by the big mules and other people who in most towns have leadership and assume responsibility and
take it upon themselves to use influence for what is good for the community. I have been content to let a few make all the decisions and so this is a town very adequately described as one that there's been great apathy in the white community. A 78 year old Birmingham man. But if they realize. That before. The End imagine or let it run.
But we have. The benefit of that description. And then you can have Jack but I want to treat me right.
Right and if I was down to help finding them. And we do respect the right but we would like to rely on a faculty member at Birmingham Medical College. I think basically people in Birmingham are like people all over. Perhaps we have more people here that have lived here all their lives haven't been out of the state. In fact some of them brag about the fact that they haven't even been out of the given county yet. All in all the people here that at least my associates I have a great deal of respect for them.
They think as I think we have a lot in common. They're wonderful people. And I don't think that even the people that perhaps we want to frown upon aren't really as bad as they might seem. I think this is something that one must realize that we are a product of our environment. We can't deny it. I'm sure that I have faults you have faults and all but all of us have faults that we can't help because of our environment. This is something that's happened. Yes it's difficult to break. Given time I can only hope that we can change some of this but it has to be changed not only here. Maybe different things but at least in other cities and other communities there are things that are going to have to be changed their provincialism. I am convinced will in due time be beaten in most areas. Perhaps this could best be said by a foreigner in terms of nationwide a
man from the European area. I had made the comment to my wife and I that gee how he envied us. We wondered why. He said well living in the state of Alabama in particular in Birmingham at this time we asked him why his comment was something like this. Because you are now right in the midst of making history. This is a challenge. There is excitement. Sometimes perhaps it gets too much in too tense. But after all you can't control history. This is something that we must accept and attempt to guide not to sit back and watch. And I think many of us have stuck your head in the sands and in fact some of us still haven't pulled him out and we've got to again may not think well of us throughout this country. With headquarters in Washington DC apparently jealous of the fine conditions existed in Birmingham and throughout the south. Ever found means of medicine
that has been employed by these forces to undermine to ridicule to the mile and to run down conditions in Birmingham. So that this great city will wind up just like the dirty cesspool cities in the east and the know what and the nation's capital Washington D.C.. I am of your nations Captain odd. The Senate they're going to make a model of democracy. I was now working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation when they Stott as they tried to do here by integrating the pox. They had five thrown into synagogues and five for a while. They decided to go along with this grand social experiment and DNA graded to prove it. The next week the negroes had 10
white people had nod at the stodgy mass migration from Washington D.C. and caused it to be in the condition it is tonight. God your nation's capital at a place where they cannot have church services at night because the people are afraid to get out on the street in the town. I am. And I hope and pray that the good people of Birmingham will stand firm on principle. And never let these conditions over here and this great and proud city allow us. And let me tell you this I have had pressures put on me for you and I hail. From every sauce to give that to yield hate to pacify. To placate to give me at. And my answer has always been and yet and it will always
beat. I will never negotiate with the communist rabble rouser of the king tide because they haven't got anything to go she will have it. They don't have a thing that we want. We have what they want and I think I am. With you. Here again Norman Jimerson the fellow who had done some speaking in behalf of the vote change form city government said that he had talked with union people people who are unemployed day laborers. Who. Were beginning to realize that they had to get rid of the rabid racist. And when it came to a vote on that election I forget the exact figures but just about 50 percent of the white
community voted to get a Bull Connor. When a year and a half before he had run. As a race for a city commissioner with an overwhelming majority on the first ballot. And the other commissioners had to have an or a runoff. So in that time of a year and a half. The community changed from overwhelming support to a rabid racist to at least half of them or almost half. Voting against him and the UN usual move of not being rattling their weight until I got out of office and I don't know of any community in the country that has ever made such a dramatic change in public opinion as Birmingham did from May of 61 until November of 62. However this town is an example of
the Southerners aptitude his easy acceptance of violence. No less. I think it was last spring and for months and months. While there was this racial upheaval there was a strike against the brown one trucking company. And they would hide around bends and shoot the trucks up with shotguns. Several drivers were wounded with the shots. This is just good old Alabama means of expressing your hostile if you don't like somebody's. Yamba him and I remember one night after working with a community organization picking up Christmas toys we went into a. Coffee shop and two fellows were arguing about whether what had happened at the house he was building one of them with build a house the other fellow was arguing something about it. And very quickly they got louder and.
When I started say very quickly was this phrase was let's go out and settle it. Well we don't want to write and debate the fine points let's just get to a place where you and I can tangle unravel the rubble decide it this way. And the old Southerner. In the south the form of the rule was slow in dying out just reading the other day that the South lost a lot of excellent generals in the civil war by doing what. They were just killing each other. Some little rivalry or jealousy or a love triangle. They just decimate their forces from the top. A student at all white Birmingham Southern College. I try to take an objective view. But still it seems to me that. We have extremist. Act in all of this. Students are being use young people being
used. Niggers are being used and right now it just seems very tragic to me. I believe that every man should be. Treated as a brother in Christ. That means to me that any person who professes to be a Christian is to me a brother. And I can't. Conceive of telling my brother to stay in his own corner somewhere. I think the responsible people have failed the citizens in a very great way. I think that the police department here in Birmingham have done a great job and controlling the mobs. But the political figures have been very radical in their statements and this is cause a lot of unrest and so forth and every time something seems to be on the way to settlement and there's a new read a statement by a responsible leader and it seems to me that they are betraying their people. Of course ministers in a great situation of pressure.
They're saying as much as they day in a lot of cases some of them are. Some of them have mixed emotions about the whole of failures. Educators I think let their views be known. Business leaders I think have let their views be known even the other day in their agreement. People are trying but when riots come out and. Radical things happen in this this gives everybody a. Fearful approach and they want to cover up their views. And it really makes you want to. Go back to the old die hard attitude. I know what is right for me. The view that I expressed a moment ago However having grown up in the south I feel that I'm a victim of the tyranny of tradition. And I. Feel this tradition coming back every now and then especially when something happens like that and I want to. Revert back to the old belief that I want to say oh but I know
that this is wrong. Mayor art Haynes Jumma let me reiterate for the benefit of all of you. You know unless. I have repeatedly tried to get this message abroad. And throughout this great land of ours. The truth about Birmingham Alabama. But of course this is not new. They don't want to tell the story of Birmingham. Banning him is only 92 years old. A great city just debate and yet there are those who criticize and say she hasn't progressed. One way to Birmingham for 150 years old or 200 years old like some of these other cities. And then you compare. And look at the progress she has made. The negro race and white race have always co-existed peacefully in Birmingham Alabama. Despite the constant agitation.
Of some in the past few years and I still say it's a great tribute to all the peoples of banning Ham the negroes and the whites. That they have maintained a sense of balance. They have gone along in peace and harmony. They've called Birmingham a city of fear nationally. It's a city that had at least three of anyplace that I know all and had been a safe place for our latest and for men. Of both races to go about at night. And it time to take some shows without fear of attack. Crap. How many cities in this country can say that. And let me point out for the benefit that other negroes in Birmingham and this is what I have tried to point out to the national press. That is always come out distilling. Either completely old meeting of the negroes in Birmingham Alabama back enjoy a higher standard
of living. Than 100 percent of the black peoples outside of the United States. They enjoy a higher standard of living than 80 percent of the white people outside of the United States. I'm talking to the negroes in Birmingham Alabama. Do you know that we had forced one into full whites full for the negroes in Birmingham. Three of the four of Negro pools fart sound all full of the white pool. We had a golf course for the benefit of the negroes. About 150 or 200 played. It cost you taxpayers twenty one thousand dollars. Over and above revenues from that golf course to subsidize it for them to play on. They had their own recreation sanest their own tennis courts their own playground.
But this was not enough. Now what was the reason that the federal courts key in the end. And decided to force an integration. Now when you pray tell me if you have a swimming pool here that cost a hundred fifty thousand dollars one a mile away and it cost a hundred and fifty. Built by the same contractor from the same specifications same size and cost the same. But you asked the Negroes to swim in the US and the whites to swim in that. What is so degrading. Are humiliated and humane about such a system. There's more beyond it and that. Now let's get on down to a few molt of the benefits that did Negroes have enjoyed in Birmingham Alabama. Lon family out of two of Negros in banning ham owner own home. All of these things I told you great attorney
general of the United States they sent him on ahead and told one out of two families own your own home. Now that 50 percent who don't own their own homes. A great many of them. Are housed in our housing projects here. And some of those apartments five bedrooms two bath a brand new stove and refrigerator fighters. And all you tell is just fine is for $20 a month. Two out of three of these Negro families own automobiles. Ninety six percent of them own television sets. I'm not pulling these figures out of my head. Ladies and gentlemen you can check by. Well I hate to say it. The Chamber of Commerce really but I am. Am. And five I can tell you that I have. I think that.
Is the greatest task that Dave I want to take in fact is the only wanted I know odd other than to negotiate the rights of you as you gather in a few statistics. But back to these noodles. But that's up to me as they talk about economics when it goes. They work in a industrial plants. Their wages are good. And do you realize that right in the city system of Birmingham in our school system that we have 11 hundred nigra school teachers and they scream about economics the niggles. This is no Negro school teachers than there are and entire states of all how well Pennsylvania New Jersey and all of New England combined including high in this poll. I am.
Do you know of the average teacher pay is higher than the average teacher pay here in the city of Birmingham. This is true. I don't know whether you knew that. I'm not in conversation to Birmingham mothers Mrs. SIEGEL And Mrs fuller my younger children are more interested in baseball than anything else. But I have a girl who's in high school and she she's been quite outspoken in her school about the wrongs that the Negro community has suffered here and. Your daughter has to had she said me. But I don't think I was a child interested in baseball shows that are not like their story. But did I know my 9 year old is very affected by it. I'm quite frequently very upset and very disturbed of things that occur at school that he feels well and some of his teachers have ridiculed negro's home he has to sit there and
tolerated or run the risk of a third grader standing up to an adult which isn't done very often in the cell. Here we have a yes man psychology here I think students maybe are a little more docile but I think there's been a lot of thought control right here in the school that I'm very disturbed about I mean we have right wing. Radicals of the right brought into the schools and the students are made a captive audience. There is no question period allowed in things of that sort it's pretty hard to be the one dissenting voice. You take a 9 year old who can do nothing and hell is just has to sit there and listen to something that goes terribly against his grain I think it's more much more difficult for him. Because I'm big enough that I would have said what I want to do to the teacher. He came home almost in hysterics he was so upset and so frustrated by. He. Really my daughter had one teacher who loudly
proclaimed that he wasn't coming back next year because he wouldn't teach in a mixed school because I found out later that he'd been offered a much better job in industry which is the real reason why many teaches a living. I mean much better financially. But when he said he wouldn't teach in a school he said do you mean boys and girls. Good for her. The same teacher incidentally said to $1 class that if you wanted to see what negroes were really like you could go to the emergency entrance of the hospital in town that takes them and see how many nice things come in on Saturday night. And I pointed out to my daughter and said she might bring it up to the teacher. That if so small a price was put on your life. I wonder how long he would be saved are if a person wanting to attack him could count on not even getting too much more than that a fan it's one of the worries that we are in the south and I am Southern. I
feel that we are very canned to them. We don't make them pay to have only as long as they are knifing each other. Well I really think that it comes to the point of whether you would like to fight for your freedom of speech and your right to disagree with others or whether you intend to live to me and fear Allah 10. And I've never been on a soapbox but I have absolutely no intentions in the United States. I happen to be extremely fond of our system and I don't intend to relinquish any of my rights as a citizen of this state. And I have discussed it with my children and with my husband and they are in agreement. If I have to leave I have to leave. I was raised here in this city
Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [2 of 2]
Producing Organization
WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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A documentary recorded in Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1963, profiling students who were jailed for demonstrating during the recent 38-day direct action nonviolent integration campaign and were subsequently expelled or suspended from their schools. The Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), one of the leaders of the Birmingham movement, speaks to newly released students on strategy going forward. Bob Polk, minister to youth in New York, interviews students on their experiences in jail, their commitment to nonviolent protest, and their opinions on the controversial issue of whether children, some as young as six years old, should have been encouraged to join the demonstrations. On May 20, Birmingham Board of Education president Robert C. Arthur, announces that the 1,081 students who had been arrested would be expelled or suspended. That night, at St. John's Church, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of SCLC, advises the students not to engage in further demonstrations until a new strategy has been devised. Constance Baker Motley, attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, tells the students that a suit will be filed the next day to stop the expulsion order and announces that the Supreme Court had ruled that day that students engaged in department store sit-ins must be released, a ruling, she says, that will effect more than 3,000 students. The next day, after the suit was filed, the U. S. Circuit Court in Atlanta ordered the reinstatement of all 1,081 Birmingham students who had been expelled. 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).
Asset type
Social Issues
African Americans--Civil rights--History
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: Nixon, Walter
: Summerfield, Jack
Interviewer: Polk, Bob
Producing Organization: WRVR (Radio station: New York, N.Y.)
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Speaker: King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968
Speaker: Arthur, Robert C.
Speaker: Motley, Constance Baker
Speaker: Abernathy, Ralph D., 1926-1990
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: cpb-aacip-b7b50c62282 (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:56
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Chicago: “ Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [2 of 2] ,” 1963-06-10, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 21, 2021,
MLA: “ Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [2 of 2] .” 1963-06-10. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 21, 2021. <>.
APA: Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [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