News / USA

Safe House Provided Security for Martin Luther King During 1963 Campaign

Safe House Provided Security for Martin Luther King During 1963 Campaigni
X
January 17, 2014
President Barack Obama is leading the nation in paying tribute to the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, January 20. The federal holiday celebrates the achievements of the Baptist minister, who rose to become the voice of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. One of his greatest victories took place more than 50 years ago in Birmingham, Alabama. VOA’s Chris Simkins takes us to the safe house where King met with other civil rights leaders.

Safe House Provided Security for Martin Luther King During 1963 Campaign

TEXT SIZE - +
Chris Simkins
— Martin Luther King Jr. came to Birmingham in 1963, to the place he called the most racially segregated city in the United States.

"To dramatize this blatant injustice," he said. "And to demand that the federal government not put a cent in this city unless it decides to face the realities of desegregation."

King and other civil rights leaders launched a campaign pressing the city to abolish laws that kept blacks and whites separated in schools, restaurants and other public places.

Some of the protests turned violent and hundreds of demonstrators were arrested.

To escape the chaos and have a place to work, King sought refuge inside a Birmingham safe house. Jeff Drew, a civil rights activist whose parents were friends of Dr. King, now owns the home.  

"He could do what he wanted, when he wanted and how he wanted, without fear of any reprisal inside these walls. It gave him the sanctuary to pray, to think and write," he said.

But this neighborhood was anything but quiet 50 years ago, as there were numerous racially motivated bombings at homes, giving this community the nickname Dynamite Hill.

Bomb's exploded nearby and the house came under fire from white segregationists.

"This room was protected by that big wall out there to stop the bullets from coming in here," said Drew. He said King stayed at the house 20 times during the Birmingham campaign. He slept in this bedroom and during the day met with civil rights leaders to map out strategy and negotiate a settlement with white business owners.

"Right here was where the end of the Birmingham business boycott was negotiated. Business leaders agreed to hire blacks as sales people and to remove the colored and white signs at the bathrooms and water fountains," he said.

Drew also remembers listening to a tense telephone conversation between King and President John Kennedy when King demand that the federal government stop the violence.

"His [King's] side of the conversation went like this, 'We want the entire country to know that your administration supports racial inequality here in Birmingham, and brutality as well. And so we are going to continue the demonstration,' and he hung the phone up, slammed the phone down."

The next morning Drew said federal troops dispatched by the president set up a command post outside the home, and tensions eased.

Lawrence Pijeaux, President of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute said King's success in the city had an impact nationwide. "In legislation that provided an opportunity for our people to have access to important things: education, housing, healthcare, voting rights. Those things came about primarily because of what happen in Birmingham, Alabama," he said

Drew wants to preserve the house to remind people of the sacrifices made by King and thousands of African Americans.

>>> Check out VOA's special section on Martin Luther King Jr. <<<

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lee from: South
January 18, 2014 4:19 PM
To those who read for the facts, rather then just in support of the agenda, there was a quickly glossed over fact in this story
That was the point, clearly made by Dr. King to the point of the Democrate administration's pro racism views. So given that such views appear to be prevasive even forty years later I have to wonder, out loud, how does a party with at least forty years of vaifiable racisim practices continue to garner the majority of the votes of those whom they continue to hold back and/or abuse? It just seems to defy logic.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid