The Birmingham riot of 1963 was a civil disorder in Birmingham, Alabama, that was provoked by bombings on the night of May 11, 1963. The bombings targeted leaders of the Birmingham campaign, a mass protest for racial justice. Their targets were a motel owned by A. G. Gaston and the parsonage of Rev. A. D. King, brother of Martin Luther King, Jr. The bombings were probably planned and carried out by members of the Ku Klux Klan.

Bomb wreckage near Gaston Motel

Bomb wreckage near Gaston Motel

The attacks triggered riots by nearby blacks starting on May 12, 1963, who met with repression from the Birmingham Police Department.

 Kennedy for copies of his announcement pledging Federal power to preserve order and lives in Birmingham, Ala., during a news conference on May 12, 1963

Kennedy for copies of his announcement pledging Federal power to preserve order and lives in Birmingham, Ala., during a news conference on May 12, 1963

The situation provoked a controversial military response from the United States federal government, and was a pivotal event in President Kennedy’s decision to propose legislation which became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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5 responses

  1. kristin says:

    The fire hosing of the young people in the first photograph was not taken during the “Birmingham Riot” it was made during demonstrations to protest conditions in Birmingham. Police regularly attackted peaceful demonstrators with fire hoses, police dogs and mass arrests. There were regular bombings. it wasn’t just those on the date mentioned that triggered the response of “riot”, it was the history and the atmosphere created by the violence against the black community that finally broke through the non-violent response.

    Finding Eliza

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  2. Birgit says:

    I feel one of the most evil forces around is the KKK. They are abhorrent to me. I look at that media clip and see how horrible the African Americans were treated and it makes me sad that this injustice was so prevalent and persists today. I have seen this many times before but it still galls me every time because they are asking for the same that we have always had and they deserved the same as we always had.

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    • Believe it or not, there is a KKK organization in the southern part of my state, New Jersey. I remember they wanted to stage a march several years ago but I think they were blocked because of the cost of police for the event. More recently in January of this year, KKK pamphlets inside plastic baggies weighed down with rice were delivered to lawns all over a few towns. Scary.

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