Who Speaks for Birmingham?

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Fred Shuttlesworth on "Who Speaks for Birmingham?"
Eleanor Bridges on "Who Speaks for Birmingham?"

Who Speaks for Birmingham? was a controversial documentary marrated by Howard K. Smith for CBS Reports and aired on the CBS Network on May 18, 1961.

Smith, a Louisiana native, came to Birmingham in 1961 and was the only national media figure in town when the Freedom Riders were brutalized by a mob on the streets under the passive eyes of Birmingham police.

Those interviewed for the program included Fred Shuttlesworth, who described the times he had faced violent mobs during his efforts to lead challenges to segregation, and Eleanor Bridges, who described the feelings of white society who had not perceived the injustices under the Jim Crow system.

Smith's commentary concluded with a quotation from Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." This quote was cut from the program when it aired. The ensuing arguments with CBS chairman William S. Paley led Smith to resign from the network.

Civil Rights Movement (19561965)
Documents Segregation laws · ACMHR Declaration of Principles · Nonviolence pledge · Birmingham Manifesto · A Call For Unity · Appeal for Law and Order · Letter from Birmingham Jail · Birmingham Truce · Civil Rights Act of 1964
Events Freedom Rides · Who Speaks for Birmingham? · Selective Buying Campaign · Birmingham Campaign · Good Friday march · Children's Crusade · Police dogs and firehoses · List of racially-motivated bombings · 1963 church bombing · May 1963 riot
Organizations Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights · Birmingham City Commission · Ku Klux Klan · Miles College · NAACP · Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Activists Fred Shuttlesworth · Martin Luther King Jr · A. D. King · James Bevel · Frank Dukes · Edward Gardner · Lola Hendricks · Colonel Stone Johnson · Autherine Lucy · Vivian Malone · Joseph Lowery · James Orange · Nelson H. Smith · John Porter · Abraham Woods Jr
Other figures Albert Boutwell · Robert Chambliss · Bull Connor · A. G. Gaston · Art Hanes · Lucius Pitts · Sidney Smyer · J. B. Stoner · "8 white clergymen" · Virgil Ware · "4 little girls"
Places Kelly Ingram Park · A. G. Gaston Motel · Movement churches
Legacy Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail · Birmingham Civil Rights Institute · Birmingham Pledge


  • Wiener, Jon (June 11, 2001) "Southern Explosure." The Nation

External links