Sunday, April 28, 2019

Civil Rights Events
Birmingham 1963
Children's Crusade
In order to sustain the campaign, SCLC organizer James Bevel proposed using young children in demonstrations. Bevel’s rationale for the Children’s Crusade was that young people represented an untapped source of freedom fighters without the prohibitive responsibilities of older activists (Birmingham Campaign Stanford 1).
Who was James Bevel?
Born in the Mississippi Delta in 1936, one of seventeen children, Bevel came to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1957 to attend the American Baptist Theological Seminary to become a preacher.  Along with John Lewis, Diane Nash, and Bernard Lafayette, he attended James Lawson’s workshops that introduced the principles of non-violent direct action.  Bevel participated in the Nashville sit-ins in 1961, became a leader of the newly formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and married Diane Nash.  Bevel selected the student teams that rode the Freedom Ride buses from Birmingham, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi, and was arrested in Jackson for attempting to desegregate the Jackson bus terminal’s white waiting room.  While in the Jackson jail, he and Bernard Lafayette started the Mississippi Voting Rights Movement. They, Nash, and others stayed in Mississippi to work on grassroots organizing.  In 1962, following James Lawson’s suggestion, Bevel was invited to meet with Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta. Bevel and King agreed to work together on an equal basis, neither having veto power over the other, on projects under the auspices of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). They agreed to work together until they had ended segregation, obtained voting rights, and ensured that all American children had a quality education.  Bevel became SCLC's Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education to augment King's positions as SCLC's Chairman and spokesperson.     
Bevel believed that, unlike their parents, children were immune from economic retribution.
Most adults have bills to pay -- house notes, rents, car notes, utility bills -- but the young people . . . are not hooked with all those responsibilities. A boy from high school has the same effect in terms of being in jail, in terms of putting pressure on the city, as his father, and yet there's no economic threat to the family, because the father is still on the job" (Cozzens 1).
Interviewed before his death in 2009, Bevel had much to say about his decision to use children.
In ’63 in Birmingham most adults felt that segregation was permanent. That it was just that way, a permanent system. People’s homes and churches had been bombed, people had been lynched and killed and there was no process by which you could gain redress to your grievances.
I had come out of the Nashville movement and the Mississippi movement, where we had basically used young people all the time. And at first King didn’t want me to use young people in Birmingham, because I had 80 charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor against me in Jackson, Mississippi, for sending young people on the Freedom Ride.
At that point that was about only five to ten, twelve adults who would go on demonstrations each day. My position was, you can’t get the dialogue you need with so few people. Besides, most adults have bills to pay, house notes, rents, car notes, utility bills.
We said to them [high school students] you’re adults, but you’re still sort of living on your mamas and your daddies.  It is your responsibility, in that you don’t have to pay the bills, to confront the segregation question. We went around and started organizing say like the queens of the high schools, the basketball stars, the football stars, so you get the influence and power leaders involved. And then they in turn got all the other students involved. . . .
First thing we did, there’s a film, The Nashville City and Story. It was an NBC White Paper. We would show that film in all of the schools. Then we would say to the students, you are responsible for segregation, you and your parents, because you have not stood up.
Our position was that, according to the Bible and the Constitution, no one has the power to oppress you if you don’t cooperate. If you say you are oppressed, then you are also acknowledging that you are in league with the oppressor. Now it’s your responsibility to break league with the oppressor.
They responded beautifully. Your first response is from the young women. I guess, from about 13 to18. They’re probably the more responsive in terms of courage, confidence and the ability to follow reasoning and logic. Nonviolence to them — it’s logical that you should love people, you shouldn’t violate people, you shouldn’t violate property. There’s a way to solve all problems without violating. Nonviolence is uncomfortable. It’s inconvenient. But if you maintain your position, the threat goes away.
Then the elementary students. They can comprehend. I guess the last guys to get involved was the high school guys. Because the brunt of the violence in the South was directed towards the young males. The females didn’t have the kind of immediate fear, say, of white policemen, as the young men did. So their involvement was more spontaneous (James 1-4).
Martin Luther King, released from jail April 20, was hesitant, fearing for the children’s safety. He prayed and reflected and finally accepted that putting children in danger could help determine their future.
King had witnessed the youthful energy that propelled the 1961 Freedom Rides. As John Lewis, who at age 21 was beaten bloody during the rides, recalled: “We considered it natural and necessary to involve children — adolescents — in the movement. We weren’t far from being teenagers ourselves, and we shared many of the same basic feelings of adolescence: unbounded idealism, courage unclouded by ‘practical’ concerns, faith and optimism untrampled by the ‘realities’ of the adult world. (Levingston 2).
Student participants recalled the following.
“We were told in some of the mass meetings that the day would come when we could really do something about all of these inequities that we were experiencing. And we were calling it D-Day. That was May 2, 1963,” remembers Janice Kelsey. Kelsey was one of thousands of young people who participated in a series of non-violent demonstrations known as the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama, during the first week of May 1963. For many African-American children in Birmingham, the Civil Rights Movement was already part of their lives. They had witnessed their parents involvement through mass meetings organized at churches like the 16th Street Baptist Church. While many parents and Civil Rights leaders were cautious about involving young people in the protests, it turned out that the brave actions of these children helped make lasting change in Birmingham at a key turning point in the movement (Gilmore 1).
Doing volunteer work at her church, Sixteenth Street Baptist, Carolyn McKinstry, 14, overheard the ministers calling on children to march.  “It was such an excitement in the air I knew I wanted to be part of it.”  She did not tell her parents, especially her strict father.  “I know if I had asked he would have said no.  … We were told what to expect when we marched, if we did encounter the police. They might hit you, they might spit on you, they will have dogs and billy clubs but the only appropriate response ever is no response, or a prayerful response.”
Freeman Hrabowski was 12 when he was forced by his parents to attend a meeting at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.  Years later he recalled: “I was not a courageous kid. I did not get into fights. The only thing I would attack was a math problem.   Children knew, children of color were well aware we were considered second class.”  Sitting in the back of the church doing his math homework, he heard Martin Luther King make the call for child volunteers: “… if the children participate in this demonstration, in this peaceful demonstration, all of America will see that even children understand the difference between right and wrong and that children want the best possible education.”  He asked his parents’ permission to participate.  They adamantly refused. 
I was very upset, and I said to them, “Then you guys are hypocrites. You told me to go and listen to the minister. I did. I want to do what he suggested and you’re saying no.” But at that time you did not say that to your parents. So my father said very calmly, “Go to your room.”
The next morning his parents sat next to him on his bed. 
I could tell they had been crying. I’d never seen my parents cry. And they said they’d been praying all night. And they said this to me: “It wasn’t that we didn’t trust you. We simply didn’t know who’d be responsible for you and how you’d be treated if you were placed in jail.” And so they thought about it and they said, “But we have decided to leave it in God’s hands” (Birmingham 3-5).
It was King’s words that inspired 16-year-old Raymond Goolsby to participate in the march.
“Rev. Martin Luther King stood right beside me,” remembers Goolsby... “He said, ‘I think it’s a mighty fine thing for children, what you’re doing because when you march, you’re really standing up; because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent.’ And, boy, I mean he talked so eloquent and fast, after he finished his motivational speech, I was ready” (Joiner 2).
A second reason parents had for not wanting their children participating in any demonstration was that they were concerned that they might be fired from their jobs.
“I wanted to [participate in the Children’s March], and asked my parents and they said no,” recalled Mary Bush, who was 15-years-old in 1963.  “My father said no.  One, [it was] too dangerous.  And two, the other had to be my father’s concern about his job.  And his ability to support us if anything happened to his job because jobs were threatened. 
Bush’s father was not the only one concerned about job security.  Mary Gadson’s mother, who worked in white homes as a domestic, was grilled incessantly by her employer.  “They were constantly asking, “Is your child involved in this stuff?  I hope she isn’t.”
James Stewart, who was 16 years of age when the marches took place, remembered having been disappointed by his parents’ lack of involvement in the movement.  “I had some feeling about that.  At that age, I felt everybody should be involved -- we should all go down, the entire city.  Even when we began to demonstrate, I saw a lot of older black adults not going, and I judged them at that time.  But I began to understand when I got older that they had jobs.  I found out that under no uncertain terms, if you were absent, if you were arrested, if you were anywhere near the civil rights movement demonstrations on [D-Day] or any time after, you would be fired.  So they had families and mortgages and things like that.  And I think that is why [the] youth provided a certain strength and energy to the movement.” 
Stewart was right.  The majority of black adults worked for businesses owned and operated by whites.  With their family’s well-being at stake, most parents distanced themselves from the movement, although many supported it secretly.  Despite their parents’ warning, Stewart and others carried on (Jeter-Bennett 244-248).
On the morning of Thursday, May 2, 1963, local WENN disc jockey Shelley “Playboy” Stewart took to the airwaves to remind his youthful audience that “there’s going to be a party at the park.”  He told them not to “forget your toothbrushes because hot luncheon will be served.”  Only those who knew about the protest march scheduled for later that afternoon could decipher Playboy’s encrypted message.  And they took heed.  As the students prepared for school, they added a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a bar of soap to their knapsacks.
Some parents knew what was going on, but certainly not all.  Many children hid their involvement in the movement from their parents, and for good reason.  The thought of children squaring off against police officers and possibly white reactionaries could be overwhelming.  Fearing what awaited young demonstrators, some adults forbade their children to march.  Gwen Webb’s mother ordered her to go to school and stay clear of the march.  “I told my mother, ‘I hear you.’  We were raised not to lie.  So I didn’t tell her a lie, and say I wasn’t going.  I said, ‘I hear you.’”
At approximately 11 a.m. students began gathering outside of Birmingham’s black public schools holding homemade signs that read, “It’s time!”  As word spread, students began pouring out of their schools, exiting any and every way possible, hopping out of windows even.  “Ullman High School had over twelve hundred kids at that time, and eleven hundred of us were over the fence.  We were gone!” said Mary Gadson.
Teachers responded differently to the mass exodus.  Jerome Taylor recalled that his schoolteacher Mrs. Cleopatra Goree looked away as students fled her classroom.  “Our teacher Mrs. Goree turned her back as we got up, and we took it from there.”  Turning her back to the students was taken as a sign of solidarity.  In fact, Goree, and many teachers like her, would have loved to join the students, but she knew she would be fired if she did.  Instead she lived vicariously through them; she was happy to see them go.  And before she knew it, only two kids remained in her classroom.  Miss Woolfolk also turned around and looked at the chalkboard while students marched out the room.  “I was teaching American government, what the Constitution guarantees what democracy should be about,” she said later.  “And sitting in a segregated school system and going to the back door of restaurant-it made sense for students to take a stand  (Jeter-Bennett 243, 255-257).
 some 800 students skipped class, high-schoolers all the way down to first-graders. Sneaking over the fences, they scampered to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the march’s staging ground (Levingston 2).
Once the students arrived at Sixteenth Street Baptist, the level of excitement intensified.  Much like a school pep-rally, Bevel and his associates led the throng of demonstrators in song.  “Ain’t gonna let no body turn me around, turn me around, turn me around.  … Walking on to freedom land,” they sang, along with other cheers and chants.  While movement organizers worked to excite the young demonstrators, others collected vital statistics – names, ages, parents’ names, and home addressed – from the children.  They also passed a basket and instructed students to dispose of their weapons.  “They asked us if we had any weapons,” James Stewart recalled.  “They passed the basket around.  … Nobody put anything in it.”  Again, the organizers passed the baskets and on the second go around, “it was full of pocket knives; somebody had brass knuckles, any little thing that people thought would give an edge.”  Shuttlesworth reminded the children, “[Your are] freedom fighters, as much as those in the army.  But without weapons.  … Still you are expected to be as disciplined as soldiers” (Jeter-Bennett 265-266)
The youngsters then emerged from the church under its brick arch and proceeded down the front steps: girls in dresses and light sweaters; boys in slacks and walking shoes; some wore hats; some had pants held up with suspenders; they were laughing and singing and carrying handmade picket signs reading “Segregation is a sin” and “I’ll die to make this land my home” (Levingston 2).
The students were given signs to carry in the march. Shirley Holmes Sims, a graduate of Parker High School, recalls her sign: "We Shall Overcome." "My mother had told me not to march and said I'd better not go to jail. But this just felt like something we were supposed to do," she said. "I didn't have sense to be afraid. I thought about our lives at the time. You look back and think, my God."
Sims had listened to the speeches on nonviolence but admits that it was difficult to remain nonviolent while being taunted. "Not long after the march, I was boarding a bus to ride home, and a little white boy spat on me," she said. "It was all I could do to keep from slapping him, but I knew that was something I could not do" (Stewart 3).
When police officers approached the initial group of marchers, they informed them of the court injunction prohibiting public demonstrations, and soon began arresting and loading them into paddy wagons for violating the order.  “When they put us under arrest, we stepped up into the paddy wagons,” Bernita Roberson said.  “I looked back at my daddy.  He kind of smiled in support because he knew that somebody from the family was going.  And it was his baby child.  … I wasn’t afraid.  I felt good that I could make a difference.  I did not want to be intimidated by whites.”
Although arresting demonstrators had become routine for Birmingham policemen, they had not anticipated so many demonstrators.  “[The] first group came out of the church quietly singing, ‘O freedom, O freedom, O freedom over me, and before I be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave, and go home to my Lord and be free,’” said Myrna Carter.  “They went down Sixteenth Street and immediately WHRRRR, you could hear the motorcycles rev up and start out after them.  Then the police arrested them.”
As the police arrested the first batch of marchers, another group immediately took their place, followed by another group and then another.  “While they (the police) were busy doing that, the leaders gave us signs and told us to go out Sixth Avenue in the opposite direction.”
Bevel released the groups of marchers in such a way as to give the appearance of one large group.  “The police thought the first group was all there was going to be that day.  So my group got downtown to Newberry’s.  … When the police realized what happened, someone called the paddy wagon.  They lined us up and snatched our signs from us.”
The police crammed a dozen or more youth demonstrators into paddy wagons that were meant to hold a maximum of eight people.  “Two in each of the four cubicles that they had,” recalled James Stewart.  “They crammed three and four of us into one cubicle, and they continued to press the door until they got it shut and locked.”
The city police ran out of paddy wagons within the first hour and began transporting children in school buses.  It was quite the sight.  Children in school buses waved merrily from the window while being hauled off to jail.  “The children were being arrested in wholesale numbers,” said police officer James Parsons.  It also surprised policemen to see these school children unafraid.  According to demonstrator Gwen Webb, the police “had strange looks to see that we were happy and singing and glad to be arrested” (Jeter-Bennett 275-281).
Washington Booker, … a student at Ullman, was among the youths who were locked up. He had been reluctant about participating in the marches — not because he didn't believe in the cause, but because he knew what could happen. Booker grew up in the projects in a place called Loveman Village. "It was nothing for the police to call you over to the car and tell you to stick your head in the window so they could tell you something. Then they would roll up the window on you," he said. "Rarely did a day go by when you didn't hear about a black man or a black boy being abused by police.
"We knew what the police would do. I was thinking, let's just let the little middle-class kids go down there and march. I had planned on just doing as I did before — standing behind the crowd and chunking bottles and bricks at the police," he said.
But the more he heard about plans for the May Children's March, the more he became caught up with the idea of participating.
"They told us this would be a nonviolent movement, but when I went into the church that day, I was carrying a pocket knife. They passed a collection basket, and we were told to put all of our weapons in the baskets. I dropped my pocket knife in, but I wished I had tucked it under a pew so I could have come back to get it" (Stewart 4).
Bevel called off the day’s demonstrations at 4 p.m.
Later that evening, thousands of men, women, and children gathered at the Bethel Baptist Church to hear from ACMHR-SCLC movement organizers.  … The meeting began as usual with a series of songs, prayers, and offerings followed by words from Dr. King.  In his remarks to the crowd the leader of the SCLC said, “I have been inspired and moved today.  I have never seen anything like it.”
Cheers and words of praise rang out as people celebrated the demonstration.  He went on to announce that close to one thousand children had participated with more than half arrested on charges of parading without a permit.  [Some 75 children had been crammed into cells meant for eight adults]  Without delving into next-day details, Dr. King said, “If they think today is the end of this, they will be badly mistaken.”  After informing the crowd that comedian-activist Dick Gregory would join them soon, and discussing other movement news, he welcomed Bevel to the pulpit.
Looking out at a room full of supporters he [Bevel] shouted, “There ain’t gonna be no meeting Monday night, because every Negro is gonna be in jail Sunday night!”  The church erupted with applause as people began walking up and down the aisles in song and praise.  Day one of the Children’s March proved to be a success (Jeter-Bennett 146-147; 282-283).
Works cited:
Birmingham and the Children’s March.”  R&E: Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.  April 26, 2013.  Web.
Birmingham Campaign.”  Stanford: The martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.  Web.
Cozzens, Lisa.  Birmingham.”  Web.
Gilmore, Kim.  “The Birmingham Children's Crusade of 1963.”   Biography.  February 14, 2014.  Web.
“James Bevel: Why the Children Did Lead Us”  Community Organizing: Why the Children Did Lead Us.”  February 5, 2015.  Web.
Jeter-Bennett, Gisell.  “’We’re Going Too!’ The Children of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.”  The Ohio State University.  2016.  Web.!etd.send_file?accession=osu1452263338&disposition=inline
Joiner, Lottie L.  “How the Children of Birmingham Changed the Civil-Rights Movement.”  Daily Beast.  May 2, 2013.  Web.
Levingston, Steven.  “Children have changed America before, braving fire hoses and police dogs for civil rights.”  The Washington Post.  March 23, 2018.  Web.
Stewart, Denise.  “Children's March 1963: A Defiant Moment.”  The Root.  May 1, 2013.  Web.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

We leave Mississippi in 1963 temporarily to discover what has been happening during much of the year in Birmingham, Alabama.

Civil Rights Events
Birmingham 1963
SCLC Comes to Town
Birmingham, Alabama, was a major industrial hub of the South due to the wartime industries of previous world wars. Birmingham was very attractive to all races, as many of the factories and shipyards that supplied the war effort employed thousands.
President F. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 8802 in 1941 and integrated industries that supplied the WWII effort. For the first time, African Americans were able to work alongside their White counterparts, and were eligible for promotions to supervisory positions. However, this also made Birmingham a battle ground where the antebellum past and the Civil Rights Movement collided in violence and protest.
The more African Americans moved into the middle class, and in turn began to live middle class lifestyles, the City of Birmingham dug their heels in to prevent their progress. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) had a long standing hold on the city, and it was their job to reinforce the social mores that governed everyone. African Americans needed to remember their place, and in times when they asserted their rights and ventured outside of the social caste system created for them, there was violence (Harris 1).
Martin Luther King described Birmingham as “America’s worst city for racism.  … the KKK had castrated an African American; [had actually] pressured the city to ban a book from book stores as it contained pictures of black and white rabbits and wanted black music banned on radio stations” (Trueman 1).
For decades Birmingham had represented the citadel of white supremacy. No black resident was ever secure from the wide sweep of racist terrorism, both institutionalized and vigilante. Conditions in the state had become even worse with the election of Governor George Wallace in 1962, who stated upon taking his oath of office, "I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." Wallace vowed that the federal government would not dictate racial policies in his state. For years, civil rights activists had conceived of plans to attack Birmingham's Jim Crow laws; now it seemed the utmost priority (Birmingham Desegregation 1).
Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth had fought the segregated system for more than a decade. 
Having witnessed the organization of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Shuttlesworth organized his own group, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR), in June 1956 after the state outlawed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In December 1956, when the federal courts ordered the desegregation of Montgomery's buses, Shuttlesworth asked the officials of Birmingham's transit system to end segregated seating, setting a December 26 deadline.  He intended to challenge the laws on a bus on that day, but on the night of December 25, Klansmen bombed Bethel Baptist Church and parsonage, nearly assassinating Shuttlesworth  (Eskew 1).
They blew the floor out from under my bed, spaces I guess 15 feet. The springs I was lying on, we never found. I walked out from this and instead of running away from the blast, running away from the Klansmen, I said to the Klansmen police that came, he said, "Reverend, if I were you, I'd get out of town as fast as I could." I said, "Officer, you're not me. You go back and tell your Klan brethren that if God could keep me through this, then I'm here for the duration." I think that's what gave people the feeling that I wouldn't run, I didn't run, and that God had to be there (Walk 1).
Shuttlesworth emerged out of the rubble of his dynamited house and led a protest the next morning that resulted in a legal case against the city's segregation ordinance.
Coinciding with school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, Shuttlesworth arranged a challenge to Birmingham's all-white Phillips High School in September 1957, nearly suffering death at the hands of an angry mob. Segregationist vigilantes again greeted Shuttlesworth when he desegregated the train station. In 1958, Shuttlesworth organized a boycott of Birmingham's buses in support of the ACMHR legal case against segregated seating. Shuttlesworth's aggressive strategy of direct action alienated him from Birmingham's established black leadership. Many people in the black middle class found as too extreme the intense religious belief held by ACMHR members that God was going to end segregation.
Prompted by the national sit-in movement begun by four black college men in Greensboro, North Carolina, in February 1960, a group of black students in Birmingham from Miles College and Daniel Payne College held a prayer vigil. Shuttlesworth and the ACMHR supported their efforts. When a national group of black and white demonstrators undertook the Freedom Rides in May 1961, Shuttlesworth and the ACMHR provided assistance, rescuing the stranded protesters outside Anniston as well as those who suffered a Klan attack at the Birmingham Trailways Station. In spring 1962, Birmingham's black college students initiated the Selective Buying Campaign and, with support from Shuttlesworth and ACMHR, it became the catalyst for the spring 1963 demonstrations.
Chosen as secretary of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) when it organized in 1957, Shutttlesworth had been an active member of the region's leading civil rights group. But he was frustrated because he believed that the SCLC lacked clear direction under King's leadership. Shuttlesworth watched the SCLC intervene in Albany, Georgia, in 1961 and fail to successfully challenge segregation in a manner that forced reforms in local race relations. Aware that King's reputation had suffered from this defeat, Shuttlesworth invited the SCLC to assist him and the ACMHR in Birmingham. Believing that a success would restore his reputation as a national civil rights leader, King agreed. Shuttlesworth hoped King's prestige would attract the black masses and thus mobilize Birmingham's black community behind the joint ACMHR-SCLC campaign (Eskew 2-3). 
In April 1963 King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) joined with Birmingham, Alabama’s existing local movement, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR), in a massive direct action campaign to attack the city’s segregation system by putting pressure on Birmingham’s merchants during the Easter season, the second biggest shopping season of the year. As ACMHR founder Fred Shuttlesworth stated in the group’s “Birmingham Manifesto,” the campaign was “a moral witness to give our community a chance to survive” (Birmingham Campaign 1).
As 1963 began, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the SCLC were coming off a campaign in Albany, Georgia, which the New York Herald Tribune called "one of the most stunning defeats of King's career." SCLC had spent over a year in Albany attempting to integrate the city's public facilities. Although the president of the Albany Movement, Dr. William Anderson, said that the campaign was "an overwhelming success, in that there was a change in the attitude of the people involved," King felt that, "we got nothing." The schools remained segregated; the city parks were closed to avoid integration; the libraries were integrated, but only after all the chairs were removed. SCLC official Andrew Young remembered King as being "very depressed." He was looking to start another campaign, and he badly needed a victory (Cozzens 1).
Birmingham had had an election.  The city’s three-member commission system was to be replaced by a mayor and city council system.   Commissioner of Public Safety, Theophilus Eugene “Bull” Conner, recognizing that his position was about to be axed, had run for mayor and been defeated by Albert Boutwell April 2.  When the newly elected officials were to be sworn into office, the three commissioners, including Conner, refused to step down.  Suddenly there were two systems of government exercising power.  Connor continued to exercise his power as Public Safety Commissioner.
Leaders from the ACMHR met with SCLC officials to plan strategy. Having learned from prior mistakes, King's lieutenant, the Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker, proposed a limited campaign of sit-ins and pickets designed to pressure merchants and local business leaders into demanding the city commission repeal the municipal segregation ordinances (Eskew 4).
Interviewed by Eyes on the Prize years later, Walker revealed his detailed planning.  : Learning by the Albany circumstance, I targeted three stores.   … And since the 16th Street Baptist Church was going to be our headquarters, I had it timed as to how long it took a youngster to walk down there, how long it would take an older person to walk down there, how long it would take a middle aged person to walk down there. And I picked out what would be the best routes. Under some subterfuge, I visited all three of these stores and counted the stools, the tables, the chairs, etc., and what the best method of ingress and egress was (Walk 2).
Twenty-one demonstrators were arrested on April 2, the first day of protest.  Until the courts decided which city government was the legal one, Bull Connor remained in charge of the police and fire departments. Connor adopted Albany sheriff Laurie Pritchett’s restraint in making arrests.  Actions expanded to kneel-ins at churches, sit-ins at the library, and a march on the county building to register voters. Hundreds were arrested.
 {Yet], from the outset, the campaign confronted an apathetic black community, an openly hostile established black leadership, and Bull Connor's "nonviolent resistance" in the form of polite arrests of the offenders of the city's segregation ordinances. With no sensational news, the national media found nothing to report, and the campaign floundered.
Shuttlesworth led the first of many protest marches on City Hall to emphasize the refusal of the city commission to issue parade permits to the protestors. As the number of demonstrations increased, police arrested more ACMHR members, consequently draining the financial resources of the campaign. Black bystanders gave the campaign the appearance of mass support, but the vast majority of Birmingham's black residents remained uninvolved. A more serious threat came from established black leaders who opposed the civil rights campaign and actively worked to undermine Shuttlesworth by negotiating with the white power structure (Eskew 4-5).
Moderate White lawyer David Vann told his Eyes on the Prize interviewer: “I was upset with Dr. King because he wouldn't give us a chance to prove what we could do through the political processes. And a year and a day after Connor had been elected with the largest vote in history, a majority of the people of this city voted to terminate his office. And when he ran for mayor, they rejected him” (Walk 3)
The Kennedy administration also thought that the demonstrations were ill-timed.
On April 10th, Birmingham obtained a state court injunction, ordering an end to the demonstrations. Discouraged, Dr. King worried that the campaign, as in Albany, would stall.   Interviewed by Eyes of the Prize, Andrew Young revealed the movement’s situation.
We had about five or six hundred people in jail, but all the money was gone and we couldn't get people out of jail. And the business community, black business community and some of the white clergy, were pressuring us to call off the demonstrations and just get out of town. And we didn't know what to do. And he sat there in room 30 in the Gaston Motel and Martin didn't say anything. And then finally, he got up and he went in the bedroom and he came back with his blue jeans on and his jacket and he said, "Look," he said, "I don't know what to do. I just know that something has got to change in Birmingham. I don't know whether I can raise money to get people out of jail. I do know that I can go into jail with them." And not knowing how it's going to work out, he walked out of the room and led his demonstration and went to jail.
Local white clergy were criticizing King and the campaign.  Young reported: The ministers published in the newspapers a diatribe against Martin calling him a troublemaker and saying that he was there stirring up trouble to get publicity. And he sat down and took that newspaper and he had no paper, and he was in solitary confinement. And he started writing an answer to that one page ad around the margins of the New York Times (Walk 4-5).  His rebuttal, titled “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” was subsequently printed in newspapers across the country.
King made salient points.
I am in Birmingham because injustice is here.
Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.
There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.
Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.  … The purpose of our direct action program is to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. 
One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history (Letter 1-3)
King’s request to call his wife, Coretta Scott King, who was at home in Atlanta recovering from the birth of their fourth child, was denied. After she communicated her concern to the Kennedy administration, Birmingham officials permitted King to call home. Bail money was made available, and he was released on 20 April 1963 (Birmingham Campaign 3).
Although King's decision to seek arrest marked a turning point in his life as a leader, it did little to increase support for the faltering ACMHR-SCLC campaign. …after a month of exhaustive demonstrations, the stalemate with white authorities suggested another Albany and the looming defeat of the Birmingham Campaign (Eskew 5).
Works cited:
Birmingham Campaign.”  Stanford: The martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.  Web.
“The Birmingham Desegregation Campaign.” Armistad Digital Resource.  Web.
Cozzens, Lisa.  Birmingham.”  Web.
Eskew, Glenn T.  Birmingham Campaign of 1963.”  Encyclopedia of Alabama.  Web.
Harris, Joanna.  “The 1963 Birmingham Campaign: Events & Impact.”  Web.
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]" African Studies CenterUniversity of Pennsylvania.  Web.
Trueman, C. N.  Birmingham 1963.”  The History Learning Site.  Web.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Civil Rights Events
Mississippi 1963
The Murder of Medgar Evers
By the time Medgar Evers was 28, he had lost a family friend to a lynch mob. He had been turned away from a voting place by a gang of armed white men. He had been denied admission to a Mississippi law school because he was black. Nevertheless, Medgar Evers loved Mississippi. He fought in World War II for the United States “including Mississippi,” he told people. And he returned from overseas with a commitment to steer his home state toward civilization.
That determination and a great deal of personal courage would carry him through many trials during the next nine years. Evers became the first NAACP Field Secretary for Mississippi, and he spent much of 1955 investigating racial killings. Evers’ research on the murders of George Lee, Lamar Smith, Emmett Till and others was compiled in a nationally distributed pamphlet called M is for Mississippi and for Murder.
There was immense danger and little glory attached to civil rights work in Mississippi—even for the NAACP’s highest state official. Medgar Evers was the one who arranged the safe escape of Mose Wright after the elderly black man risked death to testify against the white killers of Emmett Till. It was Medgar Evers who counseled James Meredith through the gauntlet of white resistance when Meredith became the first black person to enroll at the University of Mississippi. When there were no crises to respond to, there were long hours on the road organizing NAACP chapters (Bullard 1-2).
The Evers family lived under constant threat of violence.  I can recall that, in the days just preceding the Meredith-Oxford crisis in September,  1962 -- all sorts of legal maneuvers were going on in the Federal district  and Fifth Circuit courts -- my wife and I [Hunter Bear] went one Saturday night to the Evers home.  We knew Medgar was probably in New Orleans where the Fifth Circuit was then grinding away, and we thought we should see his wife, Myrlie.  We parked, went to the door, and knocked.  Medgar's police dog was barking in the back yard (fenced up).  There was no answer to our knock and I knocked again.  Then the door opened, only a crack, and I could see a gun.   I called my name and Medgar opened the door, instantly apologetic.  He had come to Jackson for the weekend.  Inside the Evers home, furniture was piled in front of all of the windows.  At least a half dozen firearms were in the living room and kitchen.  The children were in bed and Medgar and his wife and Eldri and myself visited for a good while.  The barricaded nature of the Evers home was not uncommon for a civil rights person in Mississippi; what was uncommon was the fact that both Medgar and his wife were mighty calm.  It was a very pleasant visit -- unusually so considering the fact that, next  perhaps to Meredith, no one was any more prime a target in the Deep South at that time than was Medgar.
… he was cool: I recall leaving Greenwood with him one night at midnight -- and we left at 90 mph -- with Medgar casually talking about a rumor he'd heard to the effect that a segregationist killer outfit in Leflore Co. had installed infra-red lights on the cars, which could allow them to see the highway, but which couldn't be spotted by whoever they were  following.  By the time he finished discussing this, we were going about 100 mph!  But he was driving easily and well and his talk was calm in tone, if not in content.
But Medgar did not take chances, and no one could seriously accuse him of consciously or unconsciously seeking martyrdom.  … Medgar always insisted on people not standing in the light; he, himself, stayed in the shadows -- took every safety precaution. 
No matter how discouraged he might feel, Medgar was always able to communicate -- or at least made a hell of an effort to communicate -- enthusiasm to those with whom he was working.  In the early days of the Jackson Movement, our "mass" meetings were tiny affairs, yet Medgar always functioned as though the meetings were the last crucial ones before the Revolution broke in Mississippi: he met each person on an equal to equal basis, smiled, joked, gave them the recognition of human dignity that each human being warrants; by the time the meeting began even the little handful of faithful felt it was worth holding. 
But Medgar Evers could, privately, get discouraged.  In his neighborhood for example, lived many teachers.  Most would scarcely talk to him -- they were scared to death to even see him.  Many of the clergymen in Jackson were afraid to exchange words with him.  One evening Medgar came out to our home at Tougaloo; he'd spent the day trying to draw some teachers into the NAACP.  They had turned thumbs down on it; had even told him, in effect, that the state's Negro community would be better off without him.  He had had it that day and, I recall, talked then -- as he always did when he got discouraged -- about giving up the NAACP field secretary job and getting into the Ole Miss law school in the fall.  … He'd get discouraged, privately -- never publicly, but a day or so later, he'd be back in form.
As the boycott went on into the spring, we broadened it into an all-out desegregation campaign -- picketing, sit-ins, massive marches.  This was in May and June, 1963.  It was the first widespread grassroots challenge to the system in Mississippi -- was the Jackson Movement -- and there was solid opposition from [Governor] Barnett right on down.  Mass arrests and much brutality occurred each day; lawmen  from all over the state poured into Jackson to join the several hundred Jackson regulars, the Jackson police auxiliary, state police, etc.  Hoodlums from all over the state -- Klan-types, although the KKK as an organization was just formally beginning in Mississippi -- poured into Jackson.  The National Office of the NAACP, which had reluctantly agreed to support our Jackson campaign, became frightened -- because of the vicious repression and because it was costing money -- and also the National Office was under heavy pressure from the Federal government to let Jackson cool off.  A sharp split occurred on the strategy committee.  Several of us, the youth leaders, myself, Ed King and a few others, wanted to continue, even intensify the mass demonstrations; others, such as the National Office people and conservative clergy wanted to shift everything into a voter registration campaign  (meaningless then, under the circumstances.) There was very sharp internecine warfare between our militant group and the conservatives. Medgar was caught in the middle.  As a staff employee of the National Office, he was under their direct control; as a Mississippian, he knew that only massive demonstrations could crack Jackson.  (And we knew if we cracked Jackson, we had begun to crack the state.) The stakes were high and everyone -- our militant faction on the strategy committee, the conservative group, the segregationists, Federal government -- knew it.
The NAACP National Office began to cut off the bail bond money; and also packed the strategy committee with conservative clergy.  It was a hell of a situation.  Despite everything that I and Ed and the youth leaders could do, the National Office was choking the Jackson Movement to death.  It waned almost into nothing in the second week in June.
I saw Medgar late one afternoon, Tuesday, June 11.  He was dead tired and really discouraged -- sick at what was happening to the Jackson Movement, but too much a staff man to openly challenge it.   We had a long talk and, despite the internal situation, an extremely cordial one.  But he was more disheartened than I had ever known him to be.  Later that evening, we were all at a little mass meeting… it was announced by the National Office people that the focus of the Jackson Movement was now officially voter registration -- no more demonstrations.  The boycott, out of which it had all grown, would continue -- but no more demonstrations.  NAACP T-shirts were being sold.  It was a sorry mess.  Medgar had no enthusiasm at all; said virtually nothing at the meeting; looked, indeed, as though he was ready to die (Bear Letter 1-7).
On the night of June 12 President Kennedy announced that he would be sending to Congress legislation that would make it illegal to refuse service to people of color at any "public accommodations," including hotels, restaurants and places of entertainment. "It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service … without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street," Kennedy told a nationwide television audience. "[W]hen Americans are sent to Vietnam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only.  … Next week," he declared, "I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law" (O’Brien 2-4).
Interviewed in 1986 Sam Block stated: Medgar had just left us, you see, the same night that he was shot. He bid us farewell and told us that he had just stopped by, he had heard about all of the great things that were going on here in Greenwood and he stopped by to let us know that he was 200 percent with everything that was going on and if there was anything to do just let him know and he will come running anytime day or night and he would be there. He let us know that he loved us and keep up the good work. It was a short speech and he left and went into Jackson and later on that same night ... I guess he had just gotten home (Interview Block 51).
Evers watched the presidential address with other NAACP officials. Greatly encouraged, they held a strategy session lasting late into the night. When Evers finally arrived home, it was after midnight. He pulled into his driveway, gathered up a pile of NAACP T-shirts reading “Jim Crow Must Go,” and got out of his car.
Myrlie Evers had let her children wait up for their father that night. They heard his car door slam. “And in that same instant, we heard the loud gunfire,” Mrs. Evers recalled. “The children fell to the floor, as he had taught them to, and I made a run for the front door, turned on the light and there he was. The bullet had pushed him forward, as I understand, and the strong man that he was, he had his keys in his hand, and had pulled his body around the rest of the way to the door. There he lay" (Bullard 4-5).
The bullet had struck Evers in the back, just below his shoulder blade.
Across the street on a lightly wooded hill, another man jumped … in pain. The recoil from the Enfield rifle he had just fired drove the scope into his eye, badly bruising him. He dropped the weapon and fled (Medgar 1).

Neighbors lifted Evers onto a mattress and drove him to the hospital, but he was dead within an hour after the shot.
Myrlie Evers had often heard her husband counsel forgiveness in the face of violence. But the night he was killed, there was only room for grief and rage in her heart. “I can’t explain the depth of my hatred at that point,” she said later. The next night, with newfound strength, she spoke before 500 people at a rally. She urged them to remain calm and to continue the struggle her husband died for (Bullard 5-6).
Interviewed later, Hunter Bear provided this information.

Our role was clear. Our militant group met immediately. We were up all night and into the next day. The national office people came back, but for the moment we had the momentum. We began having very substantial demonstrations. And all of this was pointing ultimately toward a funeral, which would be held on Saturday, June the 15th.

On one of the demonstrations the police charged several of us who were standing there. Most of the demonstrators were Tougaloo students of mine or Youth Council kids, or their parents. It was on Rose Street. I was standing right next to them. The police charged me particularly, and several people with me, but not the demonstrators, who had been arrested. Several people who were with me at that point ran, but I refused to run … I faced them, they surrounded me and clubbed me into unconsciousness in a bloody mud puddle on Rose Street.

… I was thrown into a paddy wagon, and there was a kid in there who wanted to try to escape and I said don't do it, they'll kill you. And so I kept him from doing that, which would have been very foolish, — ill timed.

… And lots of people were arrested in that Rose Street march. The police had turned out en masse, and so as they were arresting [the marchers], you also had this flying wedge of cops who focused on me. And we all wound up together in the fairgrounds.

An odd thing happened. I was lying in the paddy wagon and they turned the heat up, closed the windows, turned the heat up as high as it could go. And a man came and opened the door to let air in. It was M.B. Pierce, the chief of detectives. And he said to me very quietly, he said, "Professor, I'm sorry about this whole thing." And this was the first indication that something was reaching the other side. …

I was then taken to a hospital and later to the city jail and bonded out pretty quickly, — many stitches and bloody shirt. I made a very dramatic entrance at the Blair Street AME Church and spoke briefly to a cheering throng. But the real action occurred in the pastor's study, when Bill Kunstler and I called Martin King and asked if Dr. King could come to the funeral. And Dr. King said he could and would.

On Saturday, I picked up Dr. King at the airport. Kunstler rode with me and Dr. King, and I think Ralph Abernathy was in our car. Wyatt Walker and some others were in another car. We were given a grudging police escort, it was two miles to the Masonic Temple on Lynch Street where the funeral was being held. Jackson was inflamed, the whole state was inflamed, everything was ablaze, so to speak in that sense. Metaphorically.

As I drove my little Rambler with Dr. King sitting on the front seat, I was struck by how cool he was, — how cool we all were. The police hated us with a passion. The escort was very grudging. Snipers could be anywhere. We had a very interesting, matter of fact conversation. We might have been driving from say, Salina Kansas to Abilene or something like that. So we were all very cool. What else could we be?

So I let Dr. King off at the Masonic Temple, and the street was full of Black people going in. I let him and his party off, and Kunstler and so forth, and I went down a ways and parked and came back. By the time I got there, there was no space for me. I went upstairs, where a number of our militant wing of the strategy committee were gathered in a kind of attic that could look down and so we could see the situation. What we didn't see was this deplorable scene where the NAACP national officers tried to keep Martin King off the platform. … eventually they had to let him go up there.

So it was a dramatic funeral. As it developed, there were 5,000-6,000 people who had come from all over the state. Many notable luminaries from afar, — Ralph Bunche was there, others. We had a march then for about two miles, from the Masonic Temple to the Collins Funeral Home on North Farish Street. It was very hot, there were police at every intersection, every juncture.

  it was a legal march. The Mayor had grudgingly, — the day before, — announced that he'd give a parade permit.

We marched for two miles, there are many photos of it. I was in one of the very first ranks, Dr. King was pretty much right in front of me. And Kunstler behind. I'm wearing bandages from the police beating. It was very hot. When we went through the Black neighborhoods, people were out in force. Some joined the march. They certainly were not intimidated by what was happening.
When we went through the white neighborhoods, the people watched up from their porches, — they were scared, frightened. For our part, we were a well-dressed group of people, there just happened to be five or six thousand of us marching through Jackson, Mississippi.

We got to the Collins Funeral Home and people had massed in front. Space was limited on Farish Street, but there were people on all the side streets. Nobody wanted to go home. Bill [Kunstler] came up to me and said Dr. King had to get back to where he was, and so Bill borrowed my car and took King and the others to the airport. It was obvious that there wasn't going to be any chance of his joining us. [Bear believed that the national NAACP had put pressure on him to leave].

… we stayed. It was very hot. You had several thousand people gathered there and it was very hot. You had the police all around the edges.

We started to sing, "Oh Freedom," and then everyone began to sing. And then one large group broke from the mass, and we, — I say "we," because I was part of it, — left and went down Farish Street toward Capitol Street. Now we moved down toward Capitol Street, with the police running from our demonstration, running...

Away from us, — they were scared. The police were running and then they massed down there. When we had crossed Capitol in the funeral march, the police were massed on both sides so we couldn't turn onto Capitol Street, — they were afraid of that. And in this second demonstration there was a great deal of interaction. There was very little violence in the mass crowd. There were hundreds, — there may have been much more than that, — I can only give you a sense that there were a hell of a lot of people but not the whole group that had been in the funeral march. And the police were heavily massed down there in all kinds of blue helmets, brown helmets, this and that, and so forth. We had a large, singing, surging demonstration.

[Rev.] Ed King, who'd been actively involved in things was there. The police massed down there, and they began to start pushing us back. They couldn't arrest everybody, they picked out 29 people, including me and Ed King, and 27 others and threw us in the paddy wagons. So from the paddy wagon I was able to look out this little barred window and had a bird's eye view of what was occurring.

I saw hundreds of police coming now back up Farish Street to regain lost ground. I watched police dogs, — which were inflamed, — biting the policemen. Tear gas was all over, the cops were firing shots. All sorts of things were happening. It was not a riot on our part. Non-violence had been preserved even if by the barest of threads sometimes, but we encouraged non-violence, and fought for tactical non-violence. We certainly didn't want people to play into the hands of our enemies who were only too happy to have a Sharpeville if they could have had it. That's what they wanted. [In 1960 police in the South African township of Sharpeville opened fire on a peaceful protest march and killed 69 men, women, and children.]

… The police accused me of inciting to riot and things of that sort. When we got out early in the evening and got back to Tougaloo, we learned that there had been an emergency strategy meeting, which the national office had nominated. And I had been blamed, along with Ed King and some other people, of inciting the "riot."

… all that had happened had been that a few kids had thrown some stones at the police. At that point Doar had come forward in something that was later grossly exaggerated to his advantage, and quote "calmed the throng" unquote. All this had been just a few rocks thrown by some angry kids. No matter what anybody may say to the contrary, that was it, — it was not a riot. And the kids were throwing rocks only after people had been beaten and slugged right and left. And horribly mistreated, and as far as they knew, people had been shot, I mean, it could have happened. I don't think it did, but given the shooting that was going on, it was only by a miracle.

So Doar persuaded people to disperse and go home. And from that point on, it was clear that we had profoundly serious problems. Many people were afraid of what happened, the Governor sent the National Guard into Jackson that night, and they were patrolling the streets along with the other hordes of folk, — enemies. There was an uneasy strategy committee meeting on Monday, where we heard about Federal involvement very openly, — that the President and the Attorney General were going to become involved (Interview Bear 22-29).

Leading the investigation, the local police immediately found the rifle and determined that it had been recently fired. Back at the station, a fingerprint was recovered from the scope and submitted to the FBI (Medgar 2).

On June 23, Byron De La Beckwith, a fertilizer salesman and member of the White Citizens’ Council and Ku Klux Klan, was arrested for Evers’ murder (NAACP 4).

With the obvious motive, his fingerprint on the weapon, the injury around his eye, his planning, and other factors, Beckwith clearly appeared to be the killer (Medgar 2).

During the course of his first 1964 trial, De La Beckwith was visited by former Mississippi governor Ross Barnett and one time Army Major General Edwin A. Walker.

All-white juries twice that year deadlocked on De La Beckwith’s guilt, allowing him to escape justice.

In 1994, thirty years after the two previous trials had failed to reach a verdict, Beckwith was again brought to trial based on new evidence concerning statements he made to others [such as how he had bragged about killing Medgar Evers]. During the trial, the body of Evers was exhumed from his grave for autopsy, and found to be in a surprisingly excellent state of preservation as a result of embalming. Beckwith was convicted on February 5, 1994, after living as a free man for three decades after the murder. Beckwith appealed unsuccessfully, and died in prison in January of 2001 (NAACP 4-5).

The horrific murder, after Kennedy's impassioned plea for reason and civility, stunned the nation. Evers's funeral attracted more than 5,000 mourners and hundreds more greeted his body in Washington, DC, where it had been transported by train for a hero's burial at America's final resting place, Arlington National Cemetery. Evers had been a decorated soldier in World War II, and his widow, Myrlie Evers, had been coaxed by NAACP officials into allowing him to be buried in that most hallowed of spaces to make a statement about the vast injustices being committed on American soil.
It was on the very day that Evers was laid in the ground that President Kennedy sent his civil rights legislation to Congress, leveraging whatever empathy that moment inspired to make good on his promise from the week before. The next day, he invited Evers' widow and her children to visit him at the White House to express to them personally his sympathies for the loss of their beloved husband and father. He handed Mrs. Evers a copy of the just-delivered bill, which would ultimately become the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (O’Brien 3-4).
A year before his death, Evers told an interviewer why he devoted his life to the struggle for civil rights: “I am a victim of segregation and discrimination and I’ve been exposed to bitter experiences. These things have remained with me. But I think my children will be different. I think we’re going to win” (Bullard 7).
Works cited:
Bear, Hunter.  “Letter to Ms. Polly Greenberg, New York September 27, 1966.”  Medgar Evers: Reflection and Appreciation.  Web.
Bullard, Sara.  “Medgar Evers.”  Teaching Tolerance.  Web.
“Interview: Hunter Bear (John Salter).”  Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement.  Web.

“Interview with Sam Block.”  Digital Education Systems.  December 12, 1986.  Web.  pages 51-53
“Medgar Evers,” FBI, History.  Web.

“NAACP History: Medgar Evers.”  NAACP.  Web.
O’Brien, M. J.  “Medgar Evers & Civil Rights Act of 1964 Linked.”  Clarion Ledger.  July 1, 2014.  Web.