Our Public Programs series has long explored the history of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. And one of the most central sites in that history was Birmingham, AL, in the 1960s. Listen to two audio recordings of programs that focus on the city’s indelible place in the story of African American struggle and protest: First, a 2019 conversation between history scholar Eddie S. Glaude Jr. and Senator Doug Jones from Alabama, who prosecuted two former Klu Klux Klan members for the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church that killed four young girls. And second, legal scholar Randall Kennedy looks at the Martin Luther King Jr.’s battle with the U.S. Supreme Court over his 1963 arrest and jailing in Birmingham.
The Birmingham Church Bombing That Changed the Course of Civil Rights
March 9, 2019
Years before Doug Jones became a household name for his defeat of Roy Moore in a 2017 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he was well known for his role as a U.S. Attorney who prosecuted two former Ku Klux Klan members for their role in bombing the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. The 1963 bombing killed four little girls and sparked new momentum for the civil rights movement in the Deep South. In a riveting conversation with Princeton scholar Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Senator Jones uncovers how this key moment in American history shaped the long struggle for equality.
The Supreme Court vs. Martin Luther King Jr.
April 23, 2018
In the spring of 1963, a state court judge in Alabama ordered Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates to desist from protesting. King disobeyed the injunction, was jailed, and was later prevented from challenging the constitutionality of the order. In the 1967 case Walker v. City of Birmingham, the Supreme Court upheld the Alabama court’s rulings against King, declaring that “respect for judicial process is a small price to pay for the civilizing hand of law.” Did the Supreme Court rule rightly?
Top image: Congress of Racial Equality and members of the All Souls Church, Unitarian march in memory of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing victims (Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division)