1963 was the 92nd year after the founding of the City of Birmingham.
A watershed in the Civil Rights Movement occurred in 1963 when Birmingham Civil Rights Movement leader Fred Shuttlesworth requested that Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) come to Birmingham to help end segregation (see below). Together they launched "Project C" (for "Confrontation"), a massive assault on the Jim Crow system. During April and May daily sit-ins and mass marches were met with police repression, tear gas, attack dogs, and arrests. More than 3,000 people were arrested during these protests, many of them children. These protests were ultimately successful, leading not only to desegregation of public accommodations in Birmingham but also the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
While imprisoned for having taken part in a nonviolent protest, Dr. King wrote the now famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail," a defining treatise in his cause against segregation. Birmingham is also known for a bombing which occurred later that year, in which four black girls were killed by a bomb planted at the 16th Street Baptist Church. The event would inspire the African-American poet Dudley Randall's opus, "Ballad of Birmingham," as well as jazz musician John Coltrane's song, "Alabama."
- January 26–27: 1963 March of Dimes Auto Show at Municipal Auditorium.
- February: The American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums held their national convention in Birmingham, with species conservation on the agenda.
- February 17–24: Vulcan's torch signaled heart disease deaths rather than traffic fatalities for a week to support the Heart Fund Drive.
- March 2: Patsy Cline, Tex Ritter, and Jerry Lee Lewis performed at the Shower of Stars atMunicipal Auditorium for the widow of Kansas City disc jockey Jack Call. (Cline died in a plane crash three days later.)
- March 31–April 26: The 1963 Birmingham Transit strike.
- April: The 167th Theater Sustainment Command was ordered into federal service by President John Kennedy.
- June: The Birmingham Sailing Club was founded with 44 members.
- July 24: Major storms left thousands without power.
- August 5: Martin Luther King Jr, Ray Charles, James Baldwin, Joey Adams and Joe Louis shared a stage at Miles College for Salute to Freedom '63.
- August 25: The Cahaba River Group split off from the Eastview 13 Klavern of the Ku Klux Klan.
- December: Christmas decorations were expanded beyond the Birmingham Christmas tree in Woodrow Wilson Park to additional streets.
- December 23: The 1963 Collegeville fire resulted in the deaths of six children.
- December 31: A rare snowfall brought 8 inches to Birmingham.
- The 20th Special Forces Group moved from the Homewood National Guard Armory to the Oporto Armory.
- The Birmingham Festival of Arts held the 1963 Arts Around Us festival.
- The first railroad cars in the collection of the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum were put on display at the site of the future Railroad Reservation Park.
- Homewood bought the land for Spring Park.
- Laura Knox founded the Birmingham Creative Dance Group.
- 14-year-olds Dale Aston and Wendell Colbert founded The Torquays rock band.
- The Rotary Club of Shades Valley was founded.
- January 23: Western Supermarkets opened a location in Leeds.
- April 18: National discount retailer Maxam opened a location on Green Springs Highway.
- June: Tootie's Kwik Stop opened on Green Springs Highway
- July 2: The Bank for Savings and Trust and Birmingham Trust National Bank approved their merger.
- July 18: Parisian opened a second store at Five Points West Shopping City.
- August 19: Steiner Bank moved from the 1890 Steiner Building to modern offices at 1920 3rd Avenue North.
- September 3: The Birmingham Transit Company was sold to the American Transit Company of St Louis, Missouri.
- Ruby Ansley founded Ruby Ansley Interiors
- The Chapman Radio and Television Company began petitioning the FCC to allow them to broadcast on Channel 21.
- City Federal Savings & Loan moved into the newly renovated City Federal Building.
- Kenneth Daniel became President of American Cast Iron Pipe Company.
- Edgewood Hardware opened.
- Fletcher Yeilding and Paul Tyson purchased the Tampa Bolt & Screw Co. to found House of Threads.
- HGH Hardware was founded by Edwin R. Holcombe.
- The Home Baking Company constructed a distribution center and retail outlet at 413 Finley Avenue.
- The Homewood Theatre closed for good.
- Fob James founded Diversified Products Inc.
- The first public fishing area at Rock Mountain Lakes opened.
- Larry LaBerte, son of owner Nuncie LaBerte, began working at Nuncie's Music.
- Mancha's Mexican restaurant was founded by John Mancha.
- The original Milo's Hamburgers was forced to move due to construction of I-20/59.
- Nelson–Brantley Glass Company was bought by Larry Striplin, Jr.
- Progressive Farmer renamed the "Progressive Home" section as "Southern Living" for the October issue.
- Larry Striplin Jr bought the Nelson–Brantley Glass Company.
- Anne Tidmore founded Tidmore Flag and Banner in Montgomery.
Civil Rights Movement
- January 18: Governor George Wallace made his first inauguration speech, calling for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever".
- April 3-May 10: The Birmingham campaign of peaceful protest was carried out in downtown Birmingham.
- April 3: The "Birmingham Manifesto" was issued and the first organized sit-ins took place at downtown lunch counters.
- April 7 (Palm Sunday): Ministers John Thomas Porter, Nelson H. Smith and A. D. King led a group of 2,000 marchers to protest the jailing of Civil Rights Movement leaders.
- April 11: The Birmingham Public Library board voted to desegregate the city's public libraries.
- April 12 (Good Friday): Martin Luther King, Jr was arrested for parading without a permit. White clergymen issue "A Call for Unity", urging an end to demonstrations as a show of support for the incoming city council.
- May 2: The Children's Crusade began.
- May 3: Police dogs and firehoses marked the second day of the Children's Crusade.
- May 10: A truce was announced, ending the Birmingham Campaign.
- May 11: A. D. King's residence and the A. G. Gaston Motel were hit by devastating bombs. Rioting spread across the city.
- May 14: Thousands of protesters marched as a "Black Wall" through downtown Birmingham to challenge segregation at stores and lunch counters. Most business owners locked their doors for the day and posted armed guards.
- June 11: Governor George Wallace made his "stand in the schoolhouse door" to prevent integration of the University of Alabama. Vivian Malone and James Hood registered later that day.
- June 29: Birmingham's public golf courses reopened, officially desegregated.
- July 12: The U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit ruled in Armstrong v. Board of Education that Birmingham City Schools must desegregate.
- July 23: The Birmingham City Council unanimously repealed its segregation ordinances and reopened city parks.
- August 10: Predominantly African-American St James United Methodist Church in Warrior was destroyed by arsonists.
- August 15: Loveman's department store was targeted by a tear gas bomb.
- September 10: Birmingham City Schools were integrated by National Guardsmen under orders from President Kennedy.
- September 15: 16th Street Baptist Church was bombed in an act of terror. (See also: List of racially-motivated bombings.)
- September 30: Newsweek published a feature story about the church bombing with a photograph by John Friedel on the cover.
- A resolution was approved making Bessemer the site of one of the state's first technical colleges.
- Indian Springs School's soccer program was started by Ray Woodard.
- January 14: George Wallace was sworn in as Governor of Alabama.
- March 5: The 1963 Birmingham municipal election, the first held under the Mayor-Council Act, results in a runoff between mayoral candidates Albert Boutwell and Bull Connor.
- April 2: Albert Boutwell defeated Bull Connor to become Mayor of Birmingham.
- April 17: The newly-sworn in Birmingham City Council attempted to assume power, but the Birmingham City Commission members refused to cede their positions.
- April 23: Judge J. Edgar Bowron ruled that Mayor Boutwell and the City Council are the legal government of Birmingham.
- May 23: The Alabama Supreme Court upheld Bowron's ruling in favor of the Mayor-Council government.
- June 1: Salary for the Mayor of Birmingham was raised from $15,000 to $25,000.
- July 16: The 212-member Community Affairs Committee was organized.
- August 7: The Birmingham City Council approved Mayor Albert Boutwell's $15 million 1964 Birmingham budget.
- November 5: The Birmingham-Jefferson County Regional Planning Commission was created.
- The 9th Congressional District of Alabama was eliminated, with George Huddleston, Jr serving the last term as representative.
- April: Albert Henry III succeeded interim pastor John Christian as pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church.
- Nahum Benathan became rabbi of Knesseth Israel Congregation.
- Martin Coleman succeeded James Harris as pastor of Avondale United Methodist Church.
- Ben Lacy, Jr succeeded Gene Poe as pastor of South Highland Presbyterian Church.
- Mack McCollum succeeded Billy Oswold as pastor of Patton Chapel Baptist Church.
- Pilgrim Congregational Church established a day school.
- Arnold Royal succeeded Karl Friedman as president of Temple Beth-El.
- The long-running "Sunday School Hour" radio program debuted on WFHK-AM.
- Wallace Wirtz succeeded Robert Woodfield as rector of St Andrew's Episcopal Church.
- Morton Wallack succeeded Abraham Mesch as rabbi of Temple Beth-El.
- January 1: The Alabama Crimson Tide beat Oklahoma 17-0 in the Orange Bowl.
- November 30: Auburn won the 1963 Iron Bowl.
- Roberta Alison became the first woman to attend the University of Alabama on an athletic scholarship.
- Al Belcher teamed up with Kansas City A's owner Charlie Finley to bring the Birmingham Barons back for the 1964 season.
- Bessemer High School won a state football championship in Snitz Snider's final season as coach.
- The Birmingham Black Barons played their final season.
- Buck Buchanan was the first player selected overall in the year's AFL draft.
- Billy Joe earned AFL Rookie of the Year honors with the Denver Broncos.
- Lee Roy Jordan was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
- Simpson Pepper began announcing games at Legion Field, becoming known as the Voice of Legion Field.
- Jimmy Piersall was traded to the New York Mets.
- Tommie Reynolds began his Major League career with the Kansas City Athletics.
- Bubba Scott succeeded Bobby Bowden as coach of the Howard Bulldogs football team.
- Virgil Trucks was hired as a pitching coach by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
- Coach Ray Woodard introduced soccer to Alabama with his first boys' team at Indian Springs School.
- Al Worthington returned to Major League Baseball after two years in the minors.
- April: Jesse Champion rescued one of his black students from a supposed "citizens' arrest for theft" by two white boys.
- July: Ben Branscomb personally tested 200 Congressmen for emphysema using a mobile diagnostic unit of his own design.
- Paul Bailey left his position at Alabama College to join Birmingham-Southern College.
- John Beecher began a two year stint as poet in residence at the University of Santa Clara.
- Bill Burns joined the U.S. Navy.
- Ralph Butler was assigned to the Birmingham FBI office to assist in the investigation of the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church.
- Chas Chamberlain moved to Birmingham with his parents.
- Larry Connatser quit his job to paint full time.
- Bob Curlee left his position as associate pastor of Southside Baptist Church to to take the pulpit at First Baptist Church of Ashland in Clay County.
- Kerry James Marshall's family moved from Birmingham to Los Angeles.
- Robert Miller began his ministry as an associate pastor at First Methodist Church in Anniston.
- Chuck Morgan fled Birmingham with his family after receiving death threats for a speech condemning anyone who supported segregation as being guilty in the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church.
- February 15: Siberian tigers Olga and Ivan were born at the Birmingham Zoo.
- February 17: Michael Jordan, basketball player and one-time Birmingham Baron
- February 20: Charles Barkley, basketball player
- March 12: Tim Hollis, author and historian
- March 28: Chuck Jaeger, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office sergeant
- April 5: John Archibald, Birmingham News columnist
- April 19: Wendy Holcombe, banjo player
- May 16: Jon Coffelt, artist
- June 6: Claude Estes IV, CPA
- June 19: Sandy Sanderson, Birmingham Police officer
- July 6: Shelia Smoot, television reporter and politician
- August 28: Al Sutton, Baptist minister
- September 5: Jeff Brantley, baseball player
- September 8: David Lee Smith, actor
- September 8: Phillip Griffith, photographer
- October 24: Joe DeCamillis, artist
- November 6: A. C. Roper, Birmingham Police Department chief
- November 27: Greg Stanley, Air Force commander
- David Allison, biostatistician and UAB Distinguished Professor
- Brett Blackledge, reporter
- Curt Bloom, radio announcer
- Bret Bradford, sculptor
- John Hallum, actor
- Curtis Long, symphony executive director
- Edith Mayomi, former Jefferson State Community College employee
- David Meeks, Associated Press editor
- Ronald Moon Jr, physician
- Artis Murphy, literacy advocate
- Curtis Rigney, Alabaster Police Chief
- Yolanda Seay, convicted criminal
- Patrick Smith, chief of the Birmingham Police Department
- Marcia Starks, home health aide
- Jennifer Trammell, civic leader
- Victorine, Birmingham Zoo gorilla
- April Williams, Birmingham Board of Education member
- Nikita Williams, superintendent of Midfield City Schools
- William Cobb earned a master's in creative writing at Vanderbilt University.
- Ben Erdreich graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law.
- Mike Froning earned bachelor of science in mathematics at the University of Notre Dame.
- Charles Gaines earned his bachelor's degree at Birmingham-Southern College.
- Ted Galloway completed his master of arts at the University of Alabama.
- Mike Goodrich graduated from Indian Springs School.
- Cleveland Hammonds earned his master's in guidance and counseling from Southern Illinois University.
- Bev Head earned a bachelor's in economics from Yale College.
- Mal Moore earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Alabama.
- Gray Plosser graduated from Indian Springs School.
- Ben Saxon graduated from Bessemer High School.
- Richard Shelby graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law.
- June 20: Charles Gaines and Patricia Ellison
- Larry Drummond to the former Abbie Kiker.
- Chico Gale and Patti Wheeler
- Fred Youngs, Jr and Miss Sikes
- Hank Penny and Sue Thompson.
- January 14: George Wallace succeeded John Patterson as Governor of Alabama.
- James Allen succeeded Albert Boutwell as Lieutenant Governor of Alabama.
- Blanton Bennett succeeded Howard Turner as Walker County Sheriff.
- Mel Bailey succeeded Holt McDowell as Jefferson County Sheriff.
- Paul Bailey left Alabama College for Birmingham-Southern College.
- Albert Boutwell succeeded Art Hanes as Mayor of Birmingham.
- Harvie Branscomb retired from the Chancellorship of Vanderbilt University.
- Thomas Brigham became chair of the Alabama Repulican Party.
- Delos Culp succeeded Howard Phillips as President of Alabama College.
- John Grenier became chair of the Alabama Republican Party.
- Nina Miglionico became the first woman elected to the Birmingham city government.
- Ira Myers became Alabama's state health officer.
- Howard M. Phillips succeeded Henry Stanford as President of Birmingham-Southern College.
- Dave Roddy was made music director at WSGN.
- Clarke Stallworth became city editor for the Birmingham Post-Herald.
- Patrick Sullivan was assigned to priestly duties in North Alabama.
- American Football League Rookie of the Year: Billy Joe
- Birmingham Realtor of the Year: Bill Watts, Jr
- Miss Alabama: Judy Short
- Miss Alabama USA: Dinah Armstrong
- Miss Samford: Nancy Howard
- Mr Crestwood: Joe Weeks
- Monday Morning Quarterback Club Coach of the Year: Thompson Reynolds
- John Grenier was elected Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
- Billy Gamble retired as a chief warrant officer from the U.S. Navy.
- Irita Van Doren retired from the New York Herald Tribune.
- February 6: Sumangalo, Buddhist priest and monk
- March 2: Charles Carraway, physician and Carraway Hospital founder
- April: Simon Kessler, businessman
- May 1: Lee Bidgood, founding dean of Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration
- August: Henry Hury, theater owner/manager
- September 15: Addie Mae Collins, church bombing victim
- September 15: Denise McNair, church bombing victim
- September 15: Carole Robertson, church bombing victim
- September 15: Johnnie Robinson, bombing aftermath victim
- September 15: Cynthia Wesley, church bombing victim
- September 15: Virgil Ware, bombing aftermath victim
- October 19: Walter McAdory, former Jefferson County Sheriff
- December 14: Dinah Washington, blues singer
- December 25: A 14-year-old Woodlawn High School student was found dead from injuries sustained during a fall and exposure to the cold near Eastwood Mall.
- See also List of Birmingham homicides in 1963
- January 16: An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense
- April 3: To Kill A Mockingbird had its Birmingham premiere at the Melba Theatre with Mary Badham and Phillip Alford in attendance.
- April 3: The Birmingham Manifesto was published.
- April 12: A Call For Unity
- April 16: Letter from Birmingham Jail
- September 30: Newsweek issue on the 1963 church bombing with cover photo by John Friedel
- Hal Lynch starred in the Broadway production of Spoon River Anthology
- Austin 3-manual, 44-rank organ (Opus 2386) at McCoy United Methodist Church
- 2121 Building
- Steiner Bank office at 1920 3rd Avenue North
- 3349 Brookwood Road
- Bankhead Lock and Dam
- Birmingham City Jail, renovations and additions
- Birmingham Sailing Club club house, docks, and launch ramps
- Fritz Woehle residence
- 6-story, 50 room addition to the Guest House Motor Inn
- June: Horseshoe Bend Bridge was washed out by floodwaters following heavy rains.
- Hueytown City Hall
- Jones Valley High School (now Jones Valley Middle School)
- Memory Leake Robinson Hall at Howard University
- Milo's Hamburgers second location on 10th Avenue North
- New classrooms at Minor High School
- Pizitz Tire Center, Roebuck Shopping Center
- Pratt City Library on 2nd Street Pratt City
- First contracts were signed for construction of the Red Mountain Expressway
- Shades Mountain Baptist Church opened a new 1,500-seat sanctuary and fellowship hall.
- A large, electrically-lit cross was mounted to the tower of Third Presbyterian Church
- December 15: The nearly-completed Parliament House hotel was lit up with neon for Christmas.
- August: The Strand Theater was demolished to make way for new parking deck for Birmingham Trust National Bank.
- One Grain of Sand, Odetta
- Odetta Sings Folk Songs, Odetta
- Angels and Demons at Play, Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra
- When Sun Comes Out, Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra
Art Hanes c. 1963
Rendering for the 1963 Steiner Bank building
The inaugural Birmingham City Council
Bill Hudson's iconic photo of police dogs being used on Civil Rights protestors
Charles Moore's iconic photo of fire hoses being used on Civil Rights protestors
A. D. King residence after it was bombed
Segregationist J. B. Stoner speaking to a reporter
Integration protestors at Woodlawn High School
A mother withdraws her son from Graymont School after it's integrated
Mayor Albert Boutwell in 1963
In 1963, the Vietnam War continued. Travel and financial transactions by U.S. citizens with Cuba were prohibited. The Beatles recorded and release their debut album, Please Please Me. Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 705 crashed in the Florida Everglades killing all 43 persons aboard. Country music superstar Patsy Cline was killed in a plane crash. The Alcatraz Island federal penitentiary in San Francisco Bay closed. The Coca-Cola Company introduced its first diet drink, Tab cola. NASA flew the final Mercury program mission. Vostok 6 carried Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman, into space. The Supreme Court ruled in Abington School District v. Schempp that state-mandated Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional. Pope Paul VI succeeded Pope John XXIII.
Also in 1963, ZIP Codes were introduced. Hurricane Flora hit Hispaniola and Cuba killing nearly 7,000 people. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson became the 36th President. Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged assassin was later shot dead by Jack Ruby on live national television. A lightning strike caused the crash of Pan Am Flight 214 near Elkton, Maryland, killing 81 people. Kenya and Zanzibar became independent from Great Britain. The cruise ship Lakonia burned 180 miles north of Madeira, killing 128.
Books published in 1963 included Planet of the Apes (La Planète des Singes) by Pierre Boulle, Inside Mr. Enderby by Anthony Burgess, The Clocks by Agatha Christie, The Collector by John Fowles, On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming, The Spy who Came in from the Cold by John le Carré, Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean, Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, and The Graduate by Charles Webb.
Top pop music hits of 1963 included "He's So Fine" by The Chiffons, "Fingertips Pt. 2" by Little Stevie Wonder, "Sugar Shack" by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, and "Dominique" by The Singing Nun. The Grammy Awards for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year went to "Days of Wine and Roses" by Henry Mancini. Album of the Year went to The Barbra Streisand Album by Barbra Streisand. Best New Artist was awarded to Ward Swingle of The Swingle Singers.
The top-grossing films of 1963 included Cleopatra, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, How the West Was Won, The Birds, and From Russia With Love. The Academy Award for Best Picture went to Tom Jones, as did Best Director (Tony Richardson). Best Actor went to Sidney Poitier for Lilies of the Field, while Best Actress went to Patricia Neal for Hud.
Television premieres of 1963 included Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, General Hospital, The Outer Limits, The Fugitive, and Petticoat Junction. Also premiering in the United Kingdom was BBC television science fiction series Doctor Who. Series that ended in 1963 included The Voice of Firestone, The Real McCoys, and Leave It to Beaver,
Notable births in 1963 included baseball pitcher David Cone, singer and actress Vanessa L. Williams, model and actress Kathy Ireland, chess player Garry Kasparov, actor Eric McCormack, entertainer Conan O'Brien, martial artist and actor Jet Li, actress Natasha Richardson, comedian and actor Mike Myers, actor Johnny Depp, actress Helen Hunt, singer George Michael, actress Phoebe Cates, actress Lisa Kudrow, rapper Coolio, computer hacker Kevin Mitnick, singer Whitney Houston, actor John Stamos, singer Tori Amos, singer Richard Marx, baseball player Mark McGwire, and actor Brad Pitt.
Notable deaths included businessman and politician Robert S. Kerr, country singer Patsy Cline, Pope John XXIII, civil rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois, conductor Fritz Reiner, criminal Robert Stroud, writer Aldous Huxley, President John F. Kennedy, novelist C. S. Lewis, and wrestler "Gorgeous George" Wagner.
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