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     Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4
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Back to school in Birmingham Birmingham testament of nonviolence part four released from jail. Now back to school instructions from the Reverend Ralph Abernathy one of the leaders of the Birmingham movement. On Monday mugging. You are back to school was. God. God not God want you to promise me something on this. Monday morning. You ought to go back to school. Oh not everybody is going back to school let me hear you say amen was. And now nobody. Listen to me listen to me to. Know about it. It's been expanded all from school. Was the.
Now you are to go back to school on Monday Mon. Now you may have gotten a letter. Calling for you to meet with the superintendent of education. I want to principal I would somebody. If you are to meet with the ham. Go dressed up. And no go bowed down. I would have broken a ha ha bow down me. But go home and look him dead in the ass. And tell. Him. That according to what you have been taught. In the public schools of Birmingham Alabama. What you have been taught. That you have merely been obeying those autumn's that you have only protested. Law that is
unconstitutional in a peaceful manner. This is what you are to see. Go back to school fill up to school on Monday Mon. And then give them a chance to experience. This. If they expand. If they tell you that you are to stay after school for one hour. Out of two to sweep the floor this is an interface. Don't sweep it. Gone because every time they told me that I was to go to jail I didn't go running from them did. But I voluntarily went to jail. I was willing to accept the consequences for what I had done wrong according to them. Now you have been out of school not
right. Cause you've been yet 16th Street Baptist Church. So if they tell you that you are to sweep the floor to stay a few hours after school go away. The reading here and do that. But if they are foolish enough to suspend our experiment from school. Then I'll tell you what to do. You let the rest of the school know about it. And the whole school. Board and a march outside that. Was. Hand. In hand. And you will not come back to 16th Street Baptist Church. But what will you do on my show Ron. That school was. And march around in search of not much numbers that the
principal would invite us to come on in only an hour have. Them. And serve notice on um. That you're not dumb on each. But just one day all round that school. And the next school you a march on over to the white school hour have. Ha ha ha. Ha. Ha you're not a fan of. The. Today we're going home. And we're going home and it all in the fashion. We are not going to go down and try and integrate the lunch counters. We're going to wait until we hear from the mass media. When we are to go down.
Tomorrow we are together here at 16th Street Baptist Church and pick up our phone and knock on every door in our neighborhood and all can I as the bass voter registration drive in the nation. Sunday we had to go to church if they let us Ian. All right. If they ask us to leave we have to do what. Monday moning. We ought to go back to school just like nothing never happened. Read Only black We've been walkin e. Don't be have a gun and don't be hard. If they bite if they tell you to go see the Board of Education walk rather than. Looking up. Look at him then and now was. Telling me I'm a to have done nothing wrong for you did in his school. That every man is entitle to
the same rights under the Constitution of the United States of America was. If they put your artist to you are to march. And get a free negro in that school to march with year round at school. For one day and then the next day you get to March 1. To the white school. Now don't you think that's fair enough. Ah. God. Bless you. And God keep you. Now I know that I've been talking to law. What I said to you. Ah. I say to you now. DOC. Don't don't lead me don't do me like that. I say to you now. Martin Luther King is not going to leave Birmingham
Alabama. Ah. Ralph Abernathy. Is not going to leave. When am Alabama you may hear that we have to go to Atlanta on son next to a preacher not churches and audited we can make a little money to pay the rent and keep you want appeal going. What do we will be in Birmingham until Birmingham lives up to these commitments. And here Birmingham does not live up to these commitments. Then we are going to lead you in on a number that is larger than the number that John saw was a hit.
EAT ANYTHING YOU. Can. Eat can. You. Please. Can. You. Freedom. Now. No more waiting. Now. Birmingham's young Negroes skipped school took their chances. They pledge themselves to nonviolence and defied the law. They marched on city hall and went to jail. College students high school students teenagers not in school. Children in grade school. Little kids 7 years old 6 years old. They overflowed the jails. Many arrested and later released simply got themselves arrested again and again. Of the more than three thousand two hundred demonstrators arrested the greater number were teenagers and younger children. The Birmingham movement's 38 day direct
action campaign to bring about integration became in its climactic week a sensually a children's crusade. Most of the students return to school on Monday May 13th following the negotiated terminations of the Direct Action Campaign and a Mother's Day weekend of violence and rioting. A high school senior describes her return to school. This morning to tell me that I wouldn't let my ring and I have my ring on my finger I have my invitation and everything that will graduate on my. Regulations. Thank you. What's cool is this. This is high school. So far as you know did any of the students have any difficulties. Welcome back to school they're proud of us. Bob Polk ministered to use of the Riverside Church in the city of New York joined our WIVB reporting team in Birmingham to explore opinions attitudes and experiences of the young Negroes taking part in the integration campaign.
During this program you will hear a number of Negro teenagers discussing with him their attitudes and experiences. Well first of all I have been sitting around the house. You know when the paper was going to happen the next day and things like this and one of my fans approached me with the idea of going down to a youth meeting and the youth meetings were held in the afternoon. And one day I went down and they were holding a workshop and I became very interested. They were given you instructions as to probe and I went back the next day and I found going back every day and this really. This is the real reason that I'm going to join the movement because of the program and so interesting so intriguing. I had to get in it. I think the best thing you can do for us at this point is tell us some of the teachings that put forth the days if you went to the workshops in terms of First of all
very important they. Told us about the teachings of and love to love our neighbor. And no matter how much. Discord is inflicted upon us we were told and we were taught that none valance and. Forgiveness and understanding were very vital in the struggle and. This is very important. And we were taught to. Go along those things then were given instructions and when you approached by an officer or someone like that and you were told not to strike back and told not to have. Vowel and thoughts. Everything about us was to be nonviolent. This program has really changed my outlook on humanity period.
Catherine would you comment on the use of children and teenagers and demonstrations. This was very important because after all these kids were told that this was something they had to do. We presented them with the facts of the situation and what had to be done and they plunged right in with the movement to get it done because they know that this is their town they have to live here and this is settled and is not to be lingered on and on. And those kids are really interested they want to come to an early agreement and want to get things started and without the kids in the movement wouldn't have been as successful as the kids were wonderful wonderful. Q Do you feel finally that demonstrations and going to jail. Have been worth the effort. Yes very much so. My experiences in jail was I had an awful time they push me around and
everything. They are approximately a hundred and eighty three girls and all of us are treated like animals. In what way we are treated like animals. Maybe I should start from the beginning with Dick Gregory we let the first group of demonstrators out. And after we were taken taken put in the yard and locked up. Come out to take us in and buys anything. So they start officers came to the gate and they started to let the kids out. I have been instructed to take care of the kids. Maybe I should say
Secretary of the Committee for Human Rights and officer and I ask him what was he going to do with concern and so I told him. And so he said. Take me inside the building. Push me around and poke me in the back with this club and everything. And I was taken into the office and I was asked a lot of questions and all of the questions I didn't answer I refused to comment. And. After that I asked the officer being charged with other than the validation section. And he said you know very frankly he wouldn't even tell me you know. Then he took me and put me in a sale. By yourself you
know there are a couple of girls in the but they have been in before they have they were arrested that they started a before and went in willingly. And after about an hour and a half with in the cellar talking to the girls right in the kids was still outside venting on the door you know. And there was another girl with me a name is Mary Hamilton and. So we start banging on the door and he came in and told them what was the matter and we better stop because he would bring us. And so I would tell him to get rain. And he said those kids are doing all right and he said catch pneumonia and everything was thundering everything we told him and get him in writing and he said go somewhere cause niggas and things so we don't get those kids. And so we're going to really tear a place up he sat down once more. So when same thing but the minute he wanted to have another door mirror where
the window we started shaking the. And he came back and put us in solitary and I was in a sale designed for one person and there were 12 of us in there and we were all over on top of each other and some of the girls had the car pile up on the bars. You know stepping on someone it was very crowded. We stayed in south for about five hours without food water or toilet facilities. Then we were released and given cold stale bologna sandwiches which we could not eat. So we decided to drink water around about two o'clock we were taken upstairs on the third floor and there we were put on cold steel bunks without cover. And there were so many girls. Some of them had to sleep on the floor newspaper. And these conditions prevailed for about two days and we were taken upstairs. You know early in the morning Tuesday and we really didn't have anything to eat since.
Since Monday because we couldn't eat those banana sandwiches and we were deprived the privilege of having breakfast Tuesday morning which actually means that we didn't get anything to eat until Tuesday. Girls were very hungry and went downstairs in a full was so bare. The girls got sick of body and really and I actually lived off payday can the bars to get cakes and water. Really. They had the only thing that was eatable in the whole place was applesauce and you know sauce all the time. We were taken in every town we were marched in a land back up to a sale and if you hesitated for a moment you were poked in the back with clubs and offices because Arkansan name the color or the colors there were the children of God every day. Every morning we would have a prayer meeting and in the afternoon before we would go to dinner we had a prayer meeting and always before
bed time. We remembered God and we thought that he remembered us and on Tuesday we heard that we had a great big mass demonstration downtown and the people that were still interested and they were striving to get the problems out. Oh I was. Just overwhelmed with joy a wonderful everything was real. The toilet facilities were there were filthy 1054 for an animal you wouldn't treat an animal like this. We gather women even have soap. We have no toilet tissue. Things have their way but the girls survived. Think. Oh yes I found out that they were taking some of the girls out of the cell. They call us freedom fighters because it would take some of us freedom fighters out of the cell and we will always wonder where they took these girls. So I left Saturday around bout to have known
before I left I found out that they were taking the girls young girls 17 and 18 years old down and put them in the cell with the inmates. You had all kinds of people down drunks and just everybody down there put them in there and I was later told that they put them in there with the add that those inmates would you know what tag them. Yes but I was told that the girls were treated nice that they were protected. They told the policeman that. The inmates told the policeman that they were heard and that they were beating them but actually they were very nice to them. And this was this is very wrong. I feel that I must go back to jail because there has been some complications and I am part as far as I was getting getting bonded out and this is a mistake on the part of the city. But my lawyer told me that to be ex you know to expect to be picked up at any moment and I hope to God they don't put me in there with those inmates.
How did you find out that they were taking the girls down to the cells with the male inmates. In other words how does communication get around in the prison. Well all of these girls after you know when they said that they were going to bond everyone out. Then they brought them back up status and they told us about it. So it was very bad. But as far as communication within the cell we would get close to the window and. You know a holler and that's how I one night. Everybody was very messed up here just a minute are you saying in effect that Begin made the male inmates were they took some of the girls. Oh these were female inmates respected but you were there for the movement. They respected the move in such a way that they did not molest you. Yes very much so they told them they were proud of them and that they were doing something which they had no strength they had no strength to do these things and they were really proud of and to have no fear of anything and they wanted to come to them and they would have them even the
jumps in and say this is something that should be done. And we're very proud of it. I took and I will go around to the girls and we would get together read and was saying and I've been as I started before when I was very depressed. We were told that they have put water on the boys and other the boys were sleeping outside because we could look out the window at night and see the boys out and we just started singing and we sang all night and it was Thursday night we sang all night. Them landless still sing Alice Alice. Time. Must keep going. I think it's best to identify the noises that we hear above we are at the. One of the mass rallies at the Sixth Avenue Baptist Church this is Bob Hawke. Reporting for a radio station WRVO or Riverside Church in New York City. I would like to. Find out some of the interesting things that happened to you. Well at first demonstration I
think you know it's 16th Street Baptist Church and interest of the young lady has taken on names. Yeah address and telephone number and how long would you like to stay and I was there now for two days and we marched down 7th Avenue in a police stop a block away from the church and it took us on to jail and I was there about two days before we can get anything to eat in the first I was that it the fan on had the fan blowing on us all night long. Just cold air from the founder warm or cold cold or cold or how long would it take before you got something to eat. It was about a day and a half. And how many students were arrested with you. It was about 50 50. What were the conditions like when she got into jail. A thing of France then they treat us like a refuge up at all and he specifically hit you or beat you or
anything like this you know. What were some of the reactions of the students in the jail. What I seem to feel that they was happening on race some of the newspapers and both locally and in New York and around the country have mentioned the fact that they were not very they had mixed feelings about the use of teenagers children maybe even college students in terms of the demonstrations. I wonder how you feel about yourself being a college student and the reactions of some of the younger children and teenagers in this whole situation. Well the teenager is what he was going along with this 100 percent and elementary school kids will go along with it 100 percent and the young as we had demonstrated with a 6 year old girl 6 year old girl does she get put in jail also. Yes. Juvenile Court. Do you think it was right to use students in this kind of ensure should have been relatively speaking closer to the college level than the
adults. Well I don't think they had to go alone with. There's like a way to have taken place long time ago and they want their kids now to have a better opportunity in life. How do you feel about the whole nonviolent movement. A phrase when we started having come in with a razor and compass and all sorts of things like that. But they couldn't march with those things and get the police to book them. So Reverend Bill took those things up about two or three years ago I had a very quick temple. Then I found I needed it I couldn't get along aligned with this temple I had so I had to get rid of and try to change and now that I have I think I can go along with anything in a
situation here in this preparation came through the Reverend Mr. Young. Other people who have prepared you for this program. Yes. Reverend what is your last name again. Sure. Reverend shorter would you like to make some comments about some of the things we've been talking about. I was arrested Friday with Martin Luther King. But we have been instructed very properly if you keep our head up and to ignore the thing that was a little rough telling the Rev. pushed him around a little bit yesterday remains valid and he showed us actually how to go about as far as the food for for meals we can eat anything because we want to test the place and he began it. We had to move out quarter concrete floor no blankets. The first night I was there
at a place they call a pit and it pit was very cold at night it was blowing. Well we continued religious ceremony you know praying and singing to I guess about 3:00 in the morning they open the door. But how many lights were there and I was there five and a half five and a half times. But as far as reaction. We tried to maintain our head. For a purpose which we were there because we knew that bit of valor from the movement if we want to do that. You mention the fact that every time you were trying to eat you would have grace before and they would not allow you to have grace to this mean they would not allow you to eat. They didn't allow us to eat if us to grace our filling will if we can ask to grace the food which we wanted to eat but then we didn't need it. We could get along without it and we did it for four and a half
meals I think it was until they gave in and you could also have grace to. But as a general reaction to the other persons who were in jail with you when I was in a completely invalid movement there were MY become depressed because their first being locked up in jail. But yes there was always somebody to come around to give them the courage to remain. And depressing moment but always passed by the days they went by real fast and went to the kids. When it came time for them to get out they don't want to get out. All right what do you do this happened you suppose. We felt like if we stay then fill it up they would have a place where anybody else felt like we were giving them more trouble they were giving us. You mention the fact that you went to Yale with Dr. King was he on the same song with you. We got in that Friday evening and he was with us about two hours before they took him and locked him in college here off to a place where he wasn't allowed to
Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [1 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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Episode Description
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).
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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-49ec1d0ae80 (Filename)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:49
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Chicago: “ Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [1 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 October 25, 2021,
MLA: “ Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [1 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. October 25, 2021. <>.
APA: Back to School in Birmingham; Birmingham: Testament of Nonviolence, Part 4 [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