Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 14: Let Freedom Ring
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7

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Birmingham Violence
Segment 6
Birmingham, Alabama Freedom Has Come To Birmingham

It is hot, very hot, in the summer of 1962 in Birmingham, Alabama See It Now - Birmingham, Alabama. But that doesn't seem to make any difference to the city's white leaders. They close all of Birmingham's public recreational facilities because they don't want to see them integrated. No one in Birmingham can enter a park or swim in the pools.

Birmingham, Alabama's largest city, has plenty of moderate, clear-headed citizens, but the South's moderates are used to keeping quiet. Perhaps they fear the violence of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan has helped elect Eugene "Bull" Connor See It Now - Eugene "Bull" Connor as Birmingham's police chief. Connor is about as big a bully as the South has ever produced. Besides that, he is a racist. Birmingham's black citizens march, protest, and demonstrate. They want the same rights as everyone else. They want to be able to eat in any restaurant See It Now - Birmingham Protest, go to any school. They want to vote. They want an end to segregation. Those are all their civil rights. They demonstrate peacefully. Bull Connor sends attack dogs See It Now - Birmingham Violence. He says, Hear It Now - "Bull" Connor "All you gotta do is tell them you're going to bring the dogs. Look at 'em run. I want to see the dogs work."

In April, 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr., heads to Birmingham to join the marchers. He ends up in jail with many of them See It Now - Martin Luther King Arrested in Birmingham. A southern jail is not a good place to be for a civil rights leader. Then King writes a letter from the Birmingham jail to explain the reasons behind the civil rights movement. He doesn't have any writing paper so he writes on the margins of a newspaper and on toilet paper.

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Did You Know?
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (the SCLC) was another organization devoted to social justice that appealed to church-going blacks and had mainly ministers as its leaders. The Rev. Martin Luther King helped to found it and organize it.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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