♪ ANNOUNCER: In one of the toughest moments in the fight for civil rights, Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote a letter from his jail cell.
"I am in Birmingham because injustice is here."
Faced with new tactics and threats of violence, could the civil rights leaders keep the movement strong?
From the landmark series Eyes on the Prize, "No Easy Walk."
I don't think any white person can really understand what it is to be a Negro in America.
There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights.
MAN: We didn't want to be forced into doing something.
This is, in one sense, is what it was.
We were intimidated, we were threatened.
NARRATOR: Segregationists learned to beat the civil rights movement at its own game.
The movement leaders had to find new ways to fight back, but it was still no easy walk.
♪ I know the one thing we did right ♪ ♪ Was the day we started to fight ♪ ♪ Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on ♪ ♪ Keep your eyes on the prize ♪ Hold on.
(band playing military march) (band playing "Dixie") MAN: I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.
NARRATOR: On January 14, 1963, these words made Alabama Governor George Wallace the symbol of Southern resistance.
That year, movement leaders targeted the largest city in his state for a major civil rights confrontation, Birmingham, Alabama-- a city that had attracted national attention for its strict segregation and racial hatred; a city that some called "Bombingham" because of the many bomb attacks against blacks.
MAN: ♪ Jesus hold my hand... NARRATOR: For years, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and others had fought the segregated system.
In 1956, Shuttlesworth demanded the desegregation of city buses.
Many of his friends tried to talk him out of it.
They said, "We ought to stop and think this thing out."
I said, "There's nothing to think out.
We say we're going to ride and we ride."
We do what we say for a change.
So we rode the buses and over 250 people got arrested, I guess, and joined desegregated riding.
NARRATOR: Because of his efforts, his house and church were bombed as he slept.
SHUTTLESWORTH: It blew the floor out from under my bed, space of, I guess, 15 feet.
The springs that I was lying on-- we never found them.
I walked out from this.
Instead of running away from the blast, running away from the Klansmen, I said to the Klansman police that came, he said, "Reverend, if I were you, I'd get out of town fast as I could."
I said, "Officer, you're not me.
"You go back and tell your Klan brethren "that if God could keep me through this, then I'm here for the duration."
I think that's what gave people the feeling that I wouldn't run, I didn't run and that God had to be there.
NARRATOR: In September of 1957, Shuttlesworth was attacked again as he tried to enroll his children in an all-white school.
This kind of violence was not stopped by city officials.
The most famous was commissioner of public safety Theophilus Eugene Connor, "Bull" Connor, whose opinions earned him election to six terms.
The so-called Negro movement is part of the attempted takeover of our country by the lazy, the indolent, the beatniks, the ignorant and by some misguided religionists and bleeding hearts and all are being led by the politicians who stay in office by appealing, remember, not to reason, but to the most votes.
NARRATOR: Public sentiment turned against Connor in 1961 when the Freedom Riders were attacked in Birmingham on Mother's Day.
Connor was linked to the Klan violence and the local newspaper demanded to know where his police had been.
The incident attracted national attention, and the city was embarrassed into taking action.
Something had to be changed.
The business community-- when they had supported Bull Connor for election-- they really hadn't intended for him to do things like allowing things like the bus station to have occurred.
NARRATOR: It was too late for an easy change.
Birmingham was on a collision course with the national civil rights movement, and movement leaders were ready.
They had just learned some hard lessons in a small city in southwest Georgia-- Albany.
WOMAN: ♪ I've been in the storm so long ♪ ♪ I've been in the storm... NARRATOR: Here, Martin Luther King suffered what some have called one of his greatest defeats.
The Albany campaign started in 1961.
Young organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or "S.N.C.C.," came here to help the black community organize against segregation.
In November, a federal agency ordered the desegregation of all facilities used for interstate travel.
representative Charles Sherrod sent students into the Trailways bus station to see if local authorities would arrest them.
MAN: Some of us really didn't think that we'd get arrested, because this was a federal mandate.
They messing with us now, Nobody's going to mess with the federal government, we thought.
NARRATOR: But the students were arrested.
Sherrod and S.N.C.C.
continued to work with the community, finding it rewarding because of a special quality they found in the people of Albany.
♪ Well, I'm on my way... ♪ And I won't turn back... WOMAN: If you have a gold mine, then there's a point in the gold mine where you have the richest part.
And that's called the mother lode.
That's what Albany is to black people in terms of just the concentrated essence of the spirit of the people.
And if you can imagine black people at our most powerful point in terms of community and "peoplehood," then that's Albany, Georgia.
NARRATOR: The black community attacked segregation wherever it existed.
Demonstrations took place throughout the city-- at libraries, schools, movie theaters and city hall.
And we just push-- pressure, pressure, pressure.
Sometimes, we don't know who controls this, who controls the other.
So we stomp around and stomp and see whose feet we get.
And then somebody's going to holler, "You got me!"
So then when he hollers, that's the direction we go in.
And that was the general strategy.
We didn't know what we were doing.
You want to know what the Negro in Albany's going to do?
He's going to do whatever is necessary to ensure his freedom.
NARRATOR: Dr. William G. Anderson was president of the Albany Movement, an umbrella organization formed to coordinate all the civil rights groups in the community.
By mid-December, Dr. Anderson became concerned because more than 500 demonstrators had been jailed.
These were common, ordinary, everyday people-- housewives, cooks, maids, laborers, children out of school.
We had made no provisions for these people going to jail because we did not anticipate the mass arrests.
So we concluded that night that we were into something that really, we needed some expert help in.
NARRATOR: Dr. Anderson invited Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. to help in Albany.
King brought with him the S.C.L.C., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization based in black churches and led by ministers.
They had asked Martin to come down just to make a speech.
And he went only to make a speech.
So Dr. King, right, he came there with not even an overnight bag or a toothbrush.
Responded to my call.
And I do not anticipate that he expected to get as intimately involved with the Albany Movement as he did.
Dr. Anderson got carried away and, in public, asked Martin to demonstrate, to lead the march with him, and he agreed.
And then he got put in jail.
And with no plan, no thought of what we were going to do.
NARRATOR: King accepted release from jail.
As he divided his time between Albany and other commitments, S.N.C.C.
grew unhappy with S.C.L.C.
When Dr. King would come in, we'd get 2,000 or 3,000 people without much effort.
So that was in our favor.
But when he left, it was more difficult for us to get people to come.
So that this phenomenon of Doc flying into places where we worked and then flying out to another place-- which was needed-- made it difficult for us to organize.
Well, in Albany we were like fire fighters.
The fire was already burning and I 'll try to say this as charitably as I can-- S.N.C.C.
was in over its head.
And they wanted the international and national attention that Martin Luther King's presence would generate, but they did not want the input of his organization.
I don't have but one speech.
I don't have but one message as I journey around this country, and it is a message which says that I am convinced that the most potent weapon available to oppressed people as they struggle for freedom and justice is the weapon of nonviolence.
NARRATOR: As the movement took the nonviolent struggle into the streets of Albany, organizers expected the same reaction encountered in most Southern communities-- police brutality.
All right, let's stop it right here.
NARRATOR: But they had never met a law enforcement officer like this one-- Albany's chief of police, Laurie Pritchett.
You're welcome to picket.
This grouping up here is going to stop.
You'll be allowed two here in this block and the others will move out.
We'll allow two picketers in this block in front of the city hall where you're picketing.
You can leave two here or you can go.
Others that don't go and continue, you'll be arrested.
Now, let's have two in this area right here where you're picketing.
I did research.
I found his method was nonviolence; that his method was to fill the jail same as Gandhi in India.
And once he filled the jails, we'd have no capacity to arrest, and then we'd have to give in to his demands.
WOMEN: ♪ Ain't gonna let nobody ♪ Turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round ♪ ♪ Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round ♪ ♪ Keep on walkin', keep on talkin' ♪ ♪ Marchin' on to freedom land ♪ Ain't gonna let Chief Pritchett ♪ ♪ Turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round ♪ ♪ Ain't gonna let Chief Pritchett ♪ ♪ Turn me 'round... NARRATOR: Pritchett made sure his jails wouldn't fill up.
He had planned carefully.
I had sat down and took a map and went 15 miles-- how many jails was in a 15-mile radius-- how many was in a 30-mile radius, on up to maybe a 50- or 60-mile radius.
And I 'd contacted those authorities.
They'd assured us that we could use their facilities.
And we had, when the mass arrests started, we'd have marches and there'd be 200, 300... at one time there, I think we had almost 2,000-- but none in our jail.
You'd have to understand that going to jail was probably one of the most feared things in rural Georgia.
There were many blacks who were arrested in small towns in Georgia never to be heard from again.
We have every reason to believe many of these were lynched.
So going to jail was no small thing.
KING: Dr. Steele, what are the conditions there?
Is it crowded?
STEELE: Yes, very crowded.
How many is that cell supposed to hold?
It don't have very many bunks.
Is that so?
It's built to hold ten.
And they have 69 in there.
NARRATOR: Because chief Pritchett sent prisoners into these jails, some questioned how nonviolent he really was.
I think the apt description was slick.
He did have enough intelligence to read Dr. King's book and he culled from that a way to avoid confrontation and inducing the great ferment in the national community by being nonbrutal rather than being nonviolent.
It's almost... it's bizarre to say that a segregationist system or a law enforcement official of a segregationist system could be nonviolent, because first of all, nonviolence works in a moral climate and segregation is not a moral climate.
I remember a statement that Chief Pritchett made to me one time when he said, "You know, Sherrod, it's just a matter of mind over matter.
I don't mind, and you don't matter."
♪ Ain't gonna let Judge Elliot ♪ Turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round ♪ ♪ Ain't gonna let Judge Elliot ♪ Turn me 'round ♪ Keep on walkin', keep on talkin' ♪ ♪ Walkin' on to freedom land.
♪ NARRATOR: Against the solid resistance of city officials, the Albany Movement found strength in mass meetings and song.
CROWD: ♪ ...turn me 'round ♪ Keep on walkin', keep on talkin' ♪ ♪ Walkin' on to freedom land.
♪ ♪ Freedom!
♪ ♪ Freedom!
Most of the mass meeting was singing in Albany.
There was more singing than there was talking.
And, so most of the work that was done in terms of taking care of movement business had to do with nurturing the people who had come.
And there would be two or three people who would talk, but basically song was the bed of everything.
♪ We shall go to jail ♪ We shall go to jail ♪ We shall go to jail someday.
NARRATOR: July 1962.
Dr. King and Reverend Ralph Abernathy began serving a 45-day sentence.
They were determined to stay in jail to protest Albany's segregation.
But three days later, they were released.
A stunned Dr. King explained that someone had mysteriously paid their fine.
At which time the chief said to us that we had been released; in other words, that our fine had been paid.
I said, "Well, chief, we... we want to serve this time."
His only response then was, "God knows, Reverend, I don't want you in my jail."
I knew that if he stayed in jail, we'd continue to have problems.
So I talked to some people.
I said, "We've got to get him out.
And once we do, I think he'll leave here."
And arrangements were made.
Frankly, I don't know who the man was that paid the bond.
INTERVIEWER: But it was done at your request?
Yes, it was done at my request.
And it sort of surprised Dr. King.
This was the only time I've ever seen him when he seemed... when he didn't know which way to go.
All right, let's go.
On your feet.
Smilin' for the birdie.
NARRATOR: In late July, the Albany Movement received another setback.
At the city's request, federal judge J. Robert Elliot issued a restraining order to end the demonstrations, which had been going on for almost nine months.
When the federal court started ruling against us, that created a whole different thing in terms of what strategy do you use now because up to that point, Martin had been willing to break state laws that were unjust laws and our ally was the federal judiciary.
And so if we would take our case to the federal court and the federal court ruled against us, what recourse did we have?
NARRATOR: Frustrated by the federal court action, Dr. King called for President Kennedy to intervene, but Kennedy remained distant.
The president had decided that he was going to delegate the civil rights matter to the attorney general and that that was going to be a primary area of responsibility for the attorney general.
And the president was going to spend his time dealing with other parts of the administration policy, especially foreign affairs.
The United States government is involved in sitting down at Geneva with the Soviet Union.
I can't understand why the government of Albany, the city council of Albany, cannot do the same for American citizens.
NARRATOR: By August, Dr. King realized there would be no clear-cut victories in Albany.
He was depressed as he left the city.
Albany remained as segregated as it was the previous December when he first arrived.
I'm under orders to keep walking.
NARRATOR: The Albany movement continued without him.
Don't get weary... endure to the end.
What does the Bible say about it?
"Victory is not to the swift "or to the strong, but to him who holds out to the end."
We've got to hold out.
Now, I can't help how Dr. King might have felt, or Wyatt Tee might have felt, or Bernard Lee or any of the rest of them in S.C.L.C., N.A.A.C.P., C.O.R.E.
or any of the groups felt.
But as far as we were concerned, things moved on.
We didn't skip one beat.
NARRATOR: The ministers of S.C.L.C.
left Albany, but they took with them some important lessons-- lessons that defined movement strategy for Birmingham.
The strengths of the Albany Movement was it was perhaps the first time in this period of struggle of black people that we had mobilized an entire community against segregation.
And secondly, we learned that valid and crucial lesson that you must pinpoint your targets so that you do not dilute the strength of your attack.
Coming out of Albany-- which was what many people considered not a victory-- they needed a victory.
Dr. King's image at this time was slightly on the wane because he had not projected.
I say, "I assure you, if you come to Birmingham, "this movement can not only gain prestige but really shake the country."
's leaders accepted this challenge.
They arrived in Birmingham in the midst of a campaign to replace Bull Connor and the other commissioners with a new form of government.
I'm pleased to have a cloud removed so the people of the city can get down to the very serious business of securing the very best men possible to man the new city government.
Regardless of what form of government we have, it is important that we put in office men who have records which show that they are not owned or controlled by anybody or by any group.
NARRATOR: Bull Connor tried to keep power by running for mayor, but on April 2, 1963, he lost to Albert Boutwell, a racial moderate.
The next day, S.C.L.C.
launched Project C-- "C" for confrontation.
Learning by the Albany circumstance, I targeted three stores.
Pizitz was one.
I don't recall the other two stores now.
And since the 16th Street Baptist church was going to be our headquarters, I had it timed as to how long it took a youngster to walk down there, how long it would take an older person to walk down there, how long it would take a middle-aged person to walk down there.
And I picked out what would be the best routes.
Under some subterfuge, I visited all three of these stores and counted the stools, the tables, the chairs, etc., and what the best method of ingress and egress was.
CHOIR: ♪ Yes, we want our freedom ♪ Yes, we want our freedom, children ♪ ♪ Yes, we want our freedom ♪ We want our freedom, and we want it now ♪ ♪ Yes, we want our freedom ♪ Yes, we want our freedom, children.
♪ NARRATOR: Twenty-one demonstrators were arrested on the first day of protest.
And the city of Birmingham discovered it had another problem.
The outgoing commissioners announced that they had no intention of stepping aside for the newly elected government.
VANN: I remember now the day we swore in the mayor.
Before the day was over we discovered we had two mayors, two city governments and Dr. Martin Luther King and the S.C.L.C.
starting marches up and down the street.
The marches occurred almost entirely during the 37-day period when Birmingham had two governments.
On Tuesdays, the commission met and proceeded to govern the city and when they finished, they would march out and nine council members would march in, and they would proceed to adopt laws and spend money and conduct the affairs of the city.
NARRATOR: Until the courts could decide which city government was the legal one, Bull Connor remained in charge of the police and fire departments.
And Connor took a lesson from Laurie Pritchett, showing restraint as he supervised the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators.
It was a week and a half before Easter.
As planned, the demonstrations affected business during a major shopping season.
Merchants and community leaders were upset.
We've got some mighty good people in this community, both white and colored.
NARRATOR: Businessman A.G. Gaston supported the new administration.
We didn't anticipate the need for Martin King at that time.
This Martin King thing came in all of a sudden.
I was upset with Dr. King because he wouldn't give us a chance to prove what we could do through the political processes.
And a year and a day after Connor had been elected with the largest vote in history, a majority of the people in this city voted to terminate his office.
When he ran for mayor, they rejected him.
I believe a representative of my office at the Department of Justice... NARRATOR: The federal government also thought the protests were ill-timed.
KENNEDY: ...the fact that there was a change in administration in Birmingham, that the new administration had not yet taken over in their responsibilities and their duties, and that perhaps the timing of these demonstrations could be reconsidered.
NARRATOR: On April 10, Birmingham obtained a state court injunction, ordering an end to the demonstrations.
Dr. King grew discouraged, worried that the campaign here, as in Albany, would stall.
We had about 500 or 600 people in jail, but all of the money was gone and we couldn't get people out of jail, and the business community, black business community and some of the white clergy were pressuring us to call off the demonstrations and just get out of town.
And... we didn't know what to do.
And he sat there in room 30 in the Gaston Motel and Martin didn't say anything.
And then, finally, he got up and he went in the bedroom and he came back with his blue jeans on and his jacket, and he said, "Look," he said, "I don't know what to do."
He said, "I just know that something has got to change "in Birmingham.
"I don't know whether I can raise money "to get people out of jail.
I do know that I can go into jail with them."
And not knowing how it was going to work out, he walked out of the room and led a demonstration and went to jail.
That was, I think, the beginning of his true leadership.
(crowd chanting, clapping) ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom ♪ Freedom.
NARRATOR: At this time, local white clergy were criticizing King and the campaign.
YOUNG: The ministers published in the newspapers a diatribe against Martin, calling him a troublemaker and saying that he was there stirring up trouble to get publicity.
And he sat down and took that newspaper, and he had no paper and he was in solitary confinement, and he started writing an answer to that one-page ad around the margins of the New York Times.
KING: 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 segregation.
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.
NARRATOR: as King sat in Birmingham jail, the demonstrations lost supporters.
Eight days after his arrest, King accepted release on bond to plan the next phase of Project C. It would be the most controversial move yet.
We wanted to get the black community in Birmingham involved and the way you get people involved is to get their children involved.
They were taking the kids out of school, you know, marching.
And I thought that was unnecessary.
In fact, my idea was that the kids, many of them didn't know what this was all about.
Most adults have bills to pay, house notes, rents, car notes, utility bills, but the young people, wherein they can think at the same level, are not at this point hooked with all those responsibilities.
So a boy from high school, he gets the same effect in terms of being in jail-- in terms of putting pressure on the city-- as his father and yet he's not... there's no economic threat on the family, because the father's still on the job.
NARRATOR: Thursday, May 2, was D-Day, the day the children began to march in Birmingham.
At first, the groups were small.
Policemen arrested them, loaded them in paddy wagons and took them away to Birmingham jail.
WOMAN: ♪ I asked my mother ♪ Come and go with me ♪ I asked my mother ♪ Come and go with me... NARRATOR: As the children continued to march in increasing numbers, paddy wagons became inadequate.
Finally, school buses were brought in to gather the demonstrators.
♪ If my mother don't go ♪ I'll go anyhow ♪ If my mother don't go ♪ I'll go anyhow ♪ If my mother don't go ♪ I'll go anyhow ♪ I'm on my way, oh, lord ♪ To freedom land.
♪ There is nothing you can do ♪ To turn me around ♪ There is nothing you can do ♪ To turn me around... NARRATOR: By the end of that Thursday, 700 children were taken to Birmingham jail.
WOMAN: ♪ I'm on my way, oh, lord ♪ To freedom land.
More than a thousand children stayed out of school and arrived at the 16th Street Church to march.
Bull Connor tried to stop the marchers before they began and brought out the city's police dogs.
(dogs barking, people screaming) NARRATOR: Next, the fire department was brought in and Bull Connor ordered water hoses turned on the demonstrators.
With 100 pounds of pressure per square inch, the water hit with enough force to knock the bark off trees.
As water pounded the demonstrators, David Vann was on the phone with A.G. Gaston.
And he was expressing a great deal of resentment about King coming in and messing up things just when we were getting a new start.
And then he said to me, "But Lawyer Vann, they've turned fire hoses "on a little black girl.
"They were rolling that little girl "right in the middle of the street.
Now, I can't talk to you no more."
I was standing up on my building looking down on Bull Connor and them shooting water in the park right across from my office there, in that park.
I guess that's the most outstanding thing in my mind, right there.
I just couldn't imagine what could happen.
NARRATOR: Bull Connor's white tank patrolled the city's streets as the fire hoses stopped the demonstrators.
Some hid behind the trees of Kelly Ingram Park.
Others frolicked in defiance.
The conflict gained national attention and news coverage of the event shocked the American public.
And it was a masterpiece of the use of media to explain a cause to the general public of a nation.
Because in those days, you had 15 minutes of national news and 15 minutes of local news.
And in marching only one block, they could get enough news film to fill all the newscasts of all the television stations in the United States.
NARRATOR: Photographs appeared in newspapers throughout the world and the Birmingham story was told in many languages.
The Russian newspaper Pravda ran a cartoon of police intimidating a black child.
The federal government worried about America's image in other parts of the world.
Governor Wallace saw it differently.
It seems that other parts of the world ought to be concerned about what we think of them instead of what they think of us.
After all, we're feeding most of them.
And whenever they start rejecting 25 cents of each dollar of foreign aid money that we send to them, then I'll be concerned about their attitude toward us.
But until they reject that 25 cents out of each dollar that Southern taxpayers pay for foreign aid to these countries, I will never be concerned about their attitude.
In the first place, the average man in Africa and Asia doesn't even know where he is, much less where Alabama is.
NARRATOR: On Saturday, the dogs and water hoses provoked angry responses from bystanders, some of them carrying weapons.
Seeing the beginnings of violence, James Bevel borrowed a bullhorn from a nearby policeman.
BEVEL: So I took the bullhorn and said, "Okay, get off the streets now.
"We're not going to have violence.
"If you're not going to respect policemen, you're not going to be in the movement."
So it was strange, I guess, to them.
I'm with the police, talking through the bullhorn and giving orders, and everybody was obeying the orders, see.
(chuckling) It was wild.
But what was at stake was the possibility of a riot, and in a movement, once a riot breaks out, you have to stop.
It takes you four or five more days to get reestablished and I was trying to avoid that kind of situation.
NARRATOR: Monday, the fifth day of the children's campaign.
Comedian Dick Gregory arrived in Birmingham and marched with the young demonstrators.
Like hundreds before him, he was arrested.
Law enforcement officials were working overtime to keep up with the arrests.
There was no such thing as "off days."
Everybody working seven days, sleeping, catnapping, and just holding fire.
We all had the confirmed belief that this couldn't go on for long because it was pressing the issue to the wall.
NARRATOR: The confrontation moved outside the park.
Once again, Bull Connor summoned his firemen.
(people screaming) With no place to run, no trees for protection, the demonstrators were hit with the full force of the water.
By Monday night, 2,500 demonstrators had been arrested, over 2,000 of them children.
All jails in the city and county were filled.
At one time, I had, here in this building on the seventh and eighth floor, we had over 1,200 male juvenile blacks on top of our regular complement of probably near 1,000.
At the same time, I had 600 female juveniles in the 4-H dormitory at the fairground.
NARRATOR: Meanwhile, the justice department tried to move negotiations forward.
I participated in all of them, in order to try to get some kind of agreement between people that often wouldn't talk to each other at all.
I don't mean that the blacks wouldn't talk to anybody.
But I mean there were many whites that wouldn't talk to any blacks and there were some... and there were many more whites that wouldn't talk to certain blacks, and there no whites, I think, except for David Vann, who would talk to Martin King.
NARRATOR: Tuesday, May 7.
Fighting broke out between blacks and whites in the downtown area.
Burke Marshall and the business leaders had just left the negotiating table for lunch.
The situation was fast reaching the riot proportions James Bevel had feared.
The businessmen quickly returned to negotiations, ready to talk.
So we began analyzing: what are your problems?
What are our problems?
We've got to recognize, one, that we don't have a government.
We've got two governments; neither of them can be effective.
We've got to find a way to work this thing out within private-sector formats.
NARRATOR: Both sides agreed to a day of truce.
A resolution was reached, but there was a last-minute hitch.
After we reached the settlement-- and it looks like a molehill today-- to say that we were going to take down the signs and have a 60-day cooling-off period and desegregate lunch counters and begin a program of employment in downtown Birmingham with at least three clerks hired, I think somebody in New York asked Reverend Shuttlesworth why he would settle for just three clerks in downtown Birmingham.
He said, "I meant three in every store."
And the thing almost came unglued.
By that time, reverend Shuttlesworth was so worked up that I can remember Fred cussing and David Vann crying.
And it just seemed like when David Vann wanted to settle, Fred wasn't ready to settle.
You must remember that there's always some disagreement when it looks as if you're not getting what you're aiming at.
And there are people who want victories, social victories, to come quickly.
NARRATOR: On Friday, May 10, 38 days after Project C began, an agreement was reached with the business community.
Reverend Shuttlesworth had been right-- when the movement came to Birmingham, it won a much-needed victory and it gained national attention.
The next night, the Ku Klux Klan met outside the city and Grand Dragon Robert Shelton gave this opinion of the Birmingham agreement.
No business people in Birmingham or any other city has the authority to attempt any type of negotiation when it deals in governmental affairs with municipalities.
Martin Luther King, in my opinion, his epitaph can be written here in Birmingham.
NARRATOR: Several hours later, a bomb exploded outside Martin Luther King's room at the Gaston Motel.
King had already left Birmingham, and no one was in the room at the time.
As a large crowd gathered, the Alabama state police moved in and began beating blacks with clubs and rifles.
In response, angry blacks rioted and set fire to several buildings.
Over the next few weeks, the riots that began in Birmingham spread to other cities.
Racial tensions gripped the country and President Kennedy was moved to action.
On June 11, he took a stronger position than any president since Lincoln, calling civil rights a moral issue.
Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise.
The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.
The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, north and south.
Where legal remedies are not at hand, redress is sought in the streets in demonstrations, parades and protests, which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.
Next week, I shall ask the congress of the united states to act to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law.
NARRATOR: Kennedy pushed for a new civil rights bill, but was troubled when the movement announced plans for a mass march on Washington.
Fearing more violence, attorney general Robert Kennedy had tried to prevent the march, without success.
There will be a mass march; there is no doubt about that.
And it is our purpose and it is our hope that this march will carry on in a manner that will be definitely and effectively in support of a civil rights program.
MAN: "Freedom Now" movement, hear me-- we are requesting all citizens to move into Washington.
(cheering) NARRATOR: The movement that had learned to mobilize communities now set about trying to mobilize a nation.
Across the country, people made plans to attend the march on Washington, demonstrating for jobs and freedom.
Among the thousands who traveled to Washington, there were black and white activists, labor leaders, clergy, and Hollywood stars.
MAN: They came from every state.
They came in jalopies, on trains, buses, anything they could get.
NARRATOR: Bayard Rustin was the master organizer behind the day's events, coordinating hundreds of details.
Volunteers painted signs to state the issues.
They made 80,000 cheese sandwiches to feed the marchers.
Security was carefully set up so violence would not mar the day.
As the day began, march organizers worried that the turnout would not be large enough to attract the nation's attention.
CHOIR: ♪ We shall overcome... BARRATOR: by early afternoon, more than 200,000 people gathered for the symbolic march from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.
It was a triumphant day for Mr. Randolph, who had first proposed the idea for such a march in 1941, during Franklin Roosevelt's administration.
CHOIR: ♪ Deep in my heart ♪ I do believe ♪ Lord, we shall overcome someday.
♪ ♪ We are not alone ♪ We are not alone ♪ We are not alone today ♪ Oh, deep in my heart... NARRATOR: But there was trouble behind the scenes as the marchers gathered at the Lincoln memorial.
The White House was upset about a speech that was to be given by John Lewis, national chairman for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
In the first part of the speech, I said something like "We cannot support the proposed bill being introduced or being presented by President Kennedy."
It was too little and too late.
And John's speech was the only speech at the march on Washington that criticized the Kennedy administration for lack of civil rights enforcement, because S.N.C.C.
people were being brutalized in the South.
Bayard asked us to change his speech, and we told him that we weren't going to change the speech and that, you know, he would have to do it over our dead bodies.
We weren't going to change it.
Then he went down in the crowd and got A. Philip Randolph.
NARRATOR: Lewis was to be speaker number six on the program.
The opening speeches were already underway, and the conflict remained unsolved.
A. Philip Randolph finally made a personal appeal to the young men from S.N.C.C.
He was 75, and here we were, you know, one-third his age, and he was asking us to do this for him.
He said, "I waited all my life for this opportunity.
Please don't ruin it."
And we felt that, for him, that we had to make some concessions.
MAN: So the three of us-- John Lewis, Courtland Cox and myself-- we huddled and sat together and the rewriting took place at the Lincoln Memorial and it was done out of a spirit of unity.
We wanted the march on Washington to go forward, and we wanted, you know, the S.N.C.C.
's participation to be very visible, and we certainly weren't interested in withdrawing from the march on Washington.
LEWIS: If we do not get meaningful legislation out of this Congress, the time will come when we will not confine our marching to Washington.
We will march through the South, through the streets of Jackson, through the streets of Danville, through the streets of Cambridge, through the streets of Birmingham!
(applause) How long can we be patient?
We want our freedom, and we want it now!
NARRATOR: The disagreement over this speech was contained so well, few people knew of the problem.
The speech that captured the nation's attention was the stirring oratory of Martin Luther King.
So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of new York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that-- let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside!
Let freedom ring, and when this happens... when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last."
(wild cheering) NARRATOR: Only one year after the doubts and despair of Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther king had triumphed.
Much of the nation now saw him as the leader of the movement.
In the White House, President Kennedy saw the march as support for passage of his civil rights bill.
(crowd singing "We Shall Overcome") (man talking on megaphone) NARRATOR: That evening, Reverend Ralph Abernathy returned to the Lincoln Memorial.
Where 250,000 people had sat that day, there was nothing but the wind blowing the leftover programs and scattered litter across the way.
Across the reflection pool, the wind was moving and blowing and blowing and keeping music.
And we were so proud of the fact that no violence had taken place that day.
And we were so pleased.
But this beautiful scene of the wind dancing in the sands of the Lincoln Memorial I will never forget.
This was the greatest day of my life.
(sirens wailing) NARRATOR: 18 days after the march on Washington, Birmingham, Alabama-- a bomb exploded in the 16th Street Baptist Church just before a Sunday morning service.
15 people were injured.
Four children were killed.
(no audio) CROWD: ♪ We shall overcome ♪ We shall overcome ♪ We shall overcome someday ♪ Oh, deep in my heart... (woman sobbing) NARRATOR: The murder of these children shook the nonviolent movement to its core.
As the people buried their dead, they sang "We Shall Overcome," but, in anger and in rage, many wondered how.
CROWD: ♪ God is on our side ♪ God is on our side ♪ God is on our side today SINGERS: ♪ Oh ♪ Deep in my heart ♪ I know that I do... ANNOUNCER: To order Eyes on the Prize season 1 on DVD, visit ShopPBS or call 1-800-PLAY-PBS.
This program is also available on Amazon Prime Video.
SINGERS: ♪ We'll walk hand in hand ♪ Someday ♪ Oh ♪ We shall overcome someday WOMAN: God is on our side.
SINGERS: ♪ God is on our side ♪ God is on our side ♪ God is on our side ♪ God is on our side ♪ Today