7. We Shall Overcome 1 In the late fifties, King fought for rights, leading bus boycotts and marches. Arrested in the fight, his nonviolent war, he happily went to jail. He made speeches urging changes without fail. 2 King moved back to his father's church. Working together they could do more for the rights they searched for, and, all the while, the movement grew -- across the nation, it triumphantly flew. 3 First in North Carolina, students would sit down at lunch counters until blacks were served; then around all the South, the sit-ins began near and far -- they'd sit until served or were put behind bars. 4 And if they were arrested, others would come and sit in their place to add to the sum of students arrested, until the jails were packed; and if they were released, they'd simply go back! 5 The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee now joined the ranks with King's SCLC, or Southern Christian Leadership Conference -- SNCC led the sit-ins and professed nonviolence. 6 Soon after the sit-ins led by SNCC began, another organization inspired the land called the Congress of Racial Equality; CORE joined the fight to help make men free. 7 Black and white students would ride through the South breaking the laws that said they had to have black riders in the back of the bus -- by itself, that would have caused minimal fuss. 8 But at bus stations, they used lunch counters and waiting rooms and rest rooms designated for "white only," and many were arrested each place -- shaking the laws that segregated by race. 9 Riding for freedom -- these freedom rides went from town to town in the South in nonviolent protest against the segregation laws there in the quest that Americans all breath freedom's air. 10 And there were those buses met on the way by night-riders and Klansmen, who would lay hands on the buses, setting them on fire and run away in the night, as the flames grew higher. 11 And they would 'punish' the riders aboard or 'teach' them a lesson by beating them; absorbed, in the frenzy, they could not see that actually their attacks were helping the cause, in reality. 12 For all of the nation was watching the frey. And every night television would beam it their way. King himself joined in on sit-ins and the rides, and went to jail with them as a matter of pride. 13 In 1963, King took on his hardest task. What city was toughest on black people, he asked? King felt it was Birmingham -- almost everything in that city was segregated -- here, they would sing. 8. The Battle of Birmingham 1 Eugene 'Bull' Connor, the chief of police there in Birmingham, boasted that blacks would not dare challenge the laws anywhere within his domain -- he knew how to keep 'them' in 'their' place, he would claim. 2 And King led Birmingham's black community in marches and sit-ins and kneel-ins. He organized a boycott of the downtown stores with segregated lunch counters and washroom. More 3 and more protests were held, and each day, they would grow larger. The jails would stay filled until no more could fit, and then, he himself was arrested and thrown into solitary. 4 King's wife, Coretta, was in Atlanta at home. She had not heard from her husband in two days. She phoned Washington, and spoke to the Attorney General who promised to help and make sure he was well. 5 Coretta's telephone rang later that day -- it was the President calling from Florida to say that he would look into the situation with haste to see if he could help -- there was no time to waste. 6 Both President Kennedy and his brother, Robert, who was the Attorney General, had promised to do all that they could at the request of his wife -- like her, they, too, greatly feared for his life. 7 Both men made calls to Birmingham, and soon King was allowed to call them, and was allowed a visit from his lawyer who had failed in efforts to reach him -- soon, he was out of jail. 8 But now, Bull Connor decided to get tough. Police began to use tactics that were very rough. They used clubs on marchers and police dogs, as well as fire hoses -- knocked to the ground, marchers fell. 9 Across the nation, people saw this brutality and were shocked, and joined in to call for liberty. In Birmingham, many whites joined in the boycotts, too. Before long, they had won the demands they sought to. 10 Some white racists would not give up easily and bombed the hotel where King was supposed to be. They also bombed his brother's home; neither one of the Kings was injured by this violence done. 11 The Battle of Birmingham had a great effect as across all the nation, people stood up erect in hundreds of cities, demanding 'Freedom Now' -- they were tired of waiting and no longer would bow. 12 They wanted segregation given an immediate end. They wanted good jobs and to vote like other men. And so they marched in the streets and held sit-ins and picketed -- and they were jailed. 13 Trained police dogs had torn the clothing and flesh from protesters in Birmingham while all the rest of the nation looked on as the clubs and hoses tore at the nonviolent warriors, and was shaken to the core. Continue