MLK's Arrest In Birmingham - Letter From Birmingham City Jail - "Children's Crusade" - Birmingham, AL - 1963

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The Children's Crusade 1963
The Children's Crusade 1963


On April 12th 1963, Martin Luther King Jr was arrested following a nonviolent protest demonstrating against segregation in Birmingham Alabama. Police Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor arrested King for demonstrating without a permit and placed him in the Birmingham City Jail for 11 days. During his time In jail King wrote his famous "letter From Birmingham City Jail" in response to a letter written by eight local clergymen which stated that King's protest was "unwise and untimely" and asking the black population for an end to the demonstration. In His response King argued that it was a moral obligation to disobey unjust laws, and that African Americans have waited long enough for there full rights as citizens.

On May 2nd 1963, 1000+ African American school children in Birmingham Alabama skipped school in order to protest segregation using nonviolent demonstration tactis taught to them by Martin Luther King Jr. During this act of civil disobidence, which would later be called "The Children's Crusade", the students gathered at the Sixth Street Baptist Church and calmly waited for the police to arrive. When the police arrived on the scene, the children calmly and peacefully walked into the squad cars and police vans and were taken to jail. The youngest of the children arrested was eight years old.

Key Players
Martin Luther King Jr.
Eugene "Bull" Connor
eight Birmingham clergymen
Birmingham African American School Children

Martin Luther King's arrest, the Letter From Birmingham City Jail, and "The Children's Crusade" helped draw National attention to the civil rights movment and to the City of Birmingham Alabama, which was possibly the most segregated city in the United States at that time. These events exposed America to the social unjustices taking place at the time.

Excerpt From Letter From Birmingham CIty Jail
"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 segegation. 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.'"