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Eugene "Bull" Connor was the Birmingham public safety commissioner whose ideologies and orders were in direct opposition to the Civil Rights Movement.
Civil Rights Foot Soldiers (4:09)
Children’s Crusade of 1963 (4:12)
They will never get their names in the history books, yet the foot soldiers of the Civil Rights movement changed history for the better through their unsung acts of courage.
From May 2 to May 5, 1963, thousands of children left their schools in Birmingham, Alabama, to march for civil rights. Police officers responded by using water cannons and dogs to attack and then arrest the children.
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Images of this were broadcast around the world and became history, thus accelerating integration in the city and galvanizing the likes of President John F. Kennedy, helping to set into motion the creation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote about these experiences in his work Why We Can't Wait (1964),
which includes his "Letter From Birmingham Jail." Writer Diane McWhorter also covered the period in her book Carry Me Home (2001).
Heading toward the end of May, Connor was forced out of office by the state supreme court, though he was soon elected to the public service commission, winning a second term as well. He died in Birmingham on March 10, 1973, after suffering a stroke.
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Visit the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BRCI), a museum, research center and teaching facility in Birmingham, Alabama. BRCI is dedicated to documenting the American Civil Rights Movement, and promoting civil and human rights worldwide through education.
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