Martin Luther King Jr.: 8 peaceful protests that bolstered civil rights
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. believed that nonviolent protest is the most effective weapon against a racist and unjust society. But it required rallying people to his cause. Here are some of the most revolutionary peaceful protests King led.
3. The Birmingham campaign, 1963
Lasting about two months in 1963, the Birmingham campaign was a strategic effort started by Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference to end discriminatory economic policies in the Alabama city. Some of the protests included boycotting certain businesses that hired only white people or that had segregated restrooms.
When businesses refused to change their policies, protesters held sit-ins and marches, with the aim of getting arrested. King encouraged these nonviolent tactics so that the city’s jails would overflow. Police used high-pressure water hoses and dogs to control protesters, some of whom were children. By the end of the campaign, many segregation signs at Birmingham businesses came down, and public places became more open to all races.
Of the tactic used in the Birmingham campaign, King said, “The purpose of … direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”