Public Comment

"Don't Get Nonviolent With Me"

Harry Brill
Friday April 21, 2017 - 11:16:00 AM

Among the most immensely important lessons we can learn on the impact of nonviolence is the victory to desegregate the racist city, Birmingham in Alabama. Activists had nicknamed the City Bombingdale because of the frequency of violent attacks against those who were fighting segregation.

In 1963 over 3,000 young African Americans, from age12 on organized a march down the bigoted and dangerous streets of Birmingham. Many youngsters participated despite the disapproval of their parents. These courageous and principled youngsters confronted considerable violence. Led by the infamous Bull Conner, the police turned fire hoses and attack dogs on the marchers. They were then arrested.

The event and brutality were headlined across the nation and across the world, which in turn generated considerable support for the desegregation movement. As a result of the public pressure that these youngsters generated, the City relented. Birmingham was not only desegregated. Sixteen years later the Birmingham elected a black mayor. 

Despite the considerable physical abuse that these youngsters endured none of them retaliated with acts of violence. Had they done so it would have been most unlikely that they would have won. We were taught a very important lesson in the value of nonviolence.. At least I hope so.