In early April, convinced that only national legislation is capable of eliminating legal, institutional segregation, Movement strategists embark on a campaign designed to break the practice in one of its toughest strongholds – Birmingham—and to garner enough national attention in the process that the Kennedy administration will be compelled to draft and champion a comprehensive civil rights bill.
As a way of demonstrating support for ending segregation and solidarity with Movement activists, U.S. postal worker William Moore – member of the Baltimore chapter of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and former U.S. Marine – embarks on April 20th upon a solo freedom journey from Chattanooga, TN, to Jackson, MS.
Following Gov. George W. Wallace’s 1962 campaign promise to defend segregation at all costs, “…to the point of standing in the schoolhouse door, if necessary,” he does just that on June, 11, 1963, when three black students—Vivian Malone of Mobile, James Hood of Gadsden, and Dave McGlathery of Huntsville—arrive to register at the University of Alabama.
Returning home after a late meeting following President Kennedy’s national address on civil rights, NAACP state field director Medgar Evers is murdered in his driveway in the early hours of June 12, shot at close range with a high-powered rifle by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith, of Greenwood. His two children and wife Myrlie witness his death.
Following President Kennedy’s civil rights address in June, SCLC leaders plan a mass action of national scale designed to ensure passage of civil rights legislation. Drawing together tens of thousands of Movement allies from across the nation – workers with SNCC, CORE, NAACP, and SCLC, as well as members of labor unions, interdenominational organizations, and student groups—the August 28 march from the Washington monument to the Lincoln memorial is the largest demonstration of its kind in history.
On September 15, less than three weeks after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a dynamite bomb planted by Klansmen explodes inside 16th Street Baptist Church, killing four young girls: Addie Mae Collins (14), Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14). More than 20 others are injured in the attack, timed to occur during a “Youth Day” tribute to the part of local young people in the Birmingham Campaign.
n the aftermath of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, Chicago’s schools were overcrowded and underfunded, and the Chicago Board of Education refused to allow black students to transfer to white schools. The Chicago Board disregarded the Brown ruling to integrate schools by claiming they were following a neighborhood schools policy that required students to attend a school if it was within walking distance of their home.