Marching for freedom led to many days in jail

What I remember most about our marching in 1963, was my being jailed after leaving Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, making it to City Hall, and being thrown in the paddy wagon with all guys! Being kept at the Fairgrounds, and later being sent to the County Jail, for taking part in trying to stop one of the police officers from raping one of the girls. I was kept in a sweat box for days upon days, and kept in jail over a month before my family located me! They kept saying I was too young to be there, but they tried to lose me. (more…)


Joyce Kent


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I was 13 years old in 1963, and a student at Homewood Junior High. I do remember the Sunday the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was bombed. Innocent children were killed in God’s house, in a terrorist act.

Before this, I was going along with the crowd. My father told my mother, my sister and me not to go downtown that summer. Every nut in the United States was congregating down there. (more…)

Children, don’t answer the phone!!

Judith Schlinkert Toxey


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CHILDREN, DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE!! In 1963, there weren’t yet any smartphones, cellphones, cordless, or touchtone phones, no answering machines or voicemail. At our home on Shades Crest Road in Vestavia, we did have at least 4 phones…rotary, desktop, wall, and a princess phone throughout the sprawling bi-level. We had all been taught how to politely answer & take a message. So my 2 brothers & I found it strange in the autumn of 1963 that our parents suddenly instructed us NOT to answer the phone. The tone of their voices when they gave this directive conveyed urgency; we obeyed, of course. Just let the phone ring, they said, or one of us will answer it!

It wasn’t until years later that we would come to understand why we could not pick up the phone during that turbulent time. September was always my favorite month, and remains so to this day (more…)

I became a stereotype

Carol Nunnelley


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In 1963, I was a student and would-be journalist at Howard College (now Samford University), one of Birmingham’s whites-only institutions intent on ignoring and resisting the civil rights revolution outside their gates.  All that effort to shield us, and restrict us, and yet my memories of college years nonetheless are memories of Birmingham and civil rights.

I arrived at Howard with only a rudimentary sense of racial fairness.  (more…)

Strength to pursue our ideals

Ingrid Kraus


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In 1963, I was a senior at Shades Valley High School in Birmingham, Alabama. That was the year, a bright, intensely idealistic, not very savvy girl learned to retreat.

Put me in context. My parents were immigrants who left Europe with my brother during World War II to escape persecution because their ethnic background was Jewish. I was born in New York, and after years there and in Boston, my parents moved to Birmingham in 1953. I was seven.

My father felt he had behaved in less than courageous fashion in Europe on occasion, and he decided he would not hide his progressive views in Birmingham. He helped start the Alabama Council on Human Relations so that blacks and whites could meet together and communicate, a simple enough proposition which at the time was illegal according to Birmingham city ordinances. (more…)