March with the original Foot Soldiers of the Children’s Crusade on Friday, May 10

Children's Crusade Birmingham Civil Rights event

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Children's Crusade Birmingham Civil Rights event
Aerial photo from the 55th Anniversary of the Children’s Crusade in May 2018. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

It is a part of the history of Birmingham we shall never forget.

During the first week of May 1963, Civil Rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Ralph Abernathy, and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth launched the Children’s Crusade.

Walk Alongside Heroes

Participants at the 55th Anniversary of the Children’s Crusade in May 2018. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

On Friday, May 10th, 2019, 10:00AM, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is gathering students of all ages at St. Paul United Methodist Church, to march alongside the original “foot soldiers” to commemorate the 56th Anniversary of the Children’s Crusade.

It will be a powerful, once in a lifetime opportunity to walk in the same footsteps and listen to the stories from the brave heroes who faced (as children) one of the most violent moments during the struggle for Civil Rights.

You can join them. Register for the May 10th Birmingham Civil Right Institute 1963 Children’s Crusade Reenactment – HERE.

Relive History

Photo from the 55th Anniversary of the Children’s Crusade in May 2018. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

On May 2, 1963, thousands of children in Birmingham, trained in the tactics of nonviolence, marched throughout the city, calling for desegregation. Hundreds of children were arrested on the first day. On the second day, Birmingham’s Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor ordered police to spray the children with powerful water hoses, hit them with batons and threaten them with police dogs. Despite the violence, the children continued to march days afterwards.

Television footage and photographs of the brutal response to the non-violent protests was seen on broadcasts and in print all over the world.

Because of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, the Civil Rights movement had the attention of the White House, Congress, the nation and the world.

Changed the world

Entrance at Kelly Ingram Park in the Civil Rights District. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

“The Children’s March in Birmingham, Alabama led by Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. inspired a generation of activists in 1963 who changed the world,” Andrea L. Taylor, CEO, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. “The lessons learned then resonate today among Gen Z as they seek to make a difference through nonviolent social change in their communities across the nation and around the world.”

Event Details

The May 10th event is free (registration required) and begins at 10:00AM at St. Paul United Methodist Church (1500 6th Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203) During the first hour students will hear firsthand from the original foot soldiers what it was like to live in Birmingham in the turbulent early 1960s and how they prepared to march throughout the city to protest peacefully for the end of segregation.

At 11:00AM the students will leave St. Paul’s and march toward Kelly Ingram Park, just like the foot soldiers 56 years ago.

All are welcome

Aerial photo from the 55th Anniversary of the Children’s Crusade in May 2018. Photo courtesy of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute welcomes people of all ages, but especially students, to participate. To register as an individual or group, please email Barry McNealy at bmcnealy@bcri.org or call (205) 703 -0212 by May 3, 2019.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

Established 25 years ago, the mission of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future. Become a member today.

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.