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A series of protest marches and sit-ins by Birmingham's African Americans against segregated facilities in downtown department stores (water fountains, restrooms, dressing rooms, lunch counters) and against employment discrimination. Called "Project C" for "Confrontation."
Took place over a thirty-two day period in 1963 (April 3_May 10).
Organized by Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a civil rights organization founded by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other black ministers in 1957, and by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR), a Birmingham protest group organized by Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, local black minister and civil rights agitator.
Goal of demonstrations: to highlight Birmingham's rigid segregationist laws and employment discrimination, and to force correction by federal government intervention and local action.
Carried out by thousands of Birmingham blacks, including black youths, ages six to sixteen.
Launched from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, a leading black church near downtown Birmingham.
Highlights of demonstrations: (1) marches by local blacks to downtown Birmingham, where sit-ins were staged (2) the arrest of thousands of marchers by police under the direction of Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Conner (3) the use of school-aged children in the demonstrations (4) Conner's use of high-pressure water hoses and police dogs against the protestors, including children (5) nation-wide and federal government condemnation of Conner's tactics (6) the arrest of King and SCLC aides for disobeying a court order against the demonstrations (7) King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," a defense of SCLC's involvement in the demonstrations and of its non-violent philosophy, written in response to a statement by eight local white ministers condemning King, SCLC, and the protests (8) agreement on the part of a committee representing the white community to meet the basic demands of the protestors.
Significance: (1) dramatized the high level of injustices against blacks in Birmingham (2) pressured federal government to intervene to enforce constitutional rights of blacks (3) demonstrated the committment of Birmingham blacks to the struggle for equal rights (4) led to similar protests by blacks in other Southern cities.