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.


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

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