By Robert W. Widell Jr.
Birmingham, Alabama looms huge within the heritage of the twentieth-century black freedom fight, yet up to now historians have in general ignored the years after 1963. the following, writer Robert Widell explores the evolution of Birmingham black activism into the Nineteen Seventies, supplying a worthy neighborhood standpoint at the "long" black freedom fight.
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Extra info for Birmingham and the Long Black Freedom Struggle
Such was especially the case during the period between passage and enactment of the Civil Rights Act. Following its passage, workers met clandestinely with NAACP officials and others who helped them understand exactly what the new law meant for their efforts. 45 The investigators would then make surprise visits to ACIPCO to document what they had been told. 46 COMMITTEE FOR EQUAL JOB OPPORTUNITY 25 Emboldened by such support, in March of 1965, a few months prior to the effective date of the Civil Rights Act, the smaller group that had been pursuing action against ACIPCO decided to call a meeting of all the black employees of the company, as well as several other area plants.
In an interview in 2003 he recalled: [A]t that time we didn’t have no type of representation. We had somewhat of an Auxiliary Board that was supposed to have been representing the COMMITTEE FOR EQUAL JOB OPPORTUNITY 23 black employees. We had somewhat of a Board of Operatives that was supposed to have been representing the white employees. But neither one of them had any power. 34 A moment of serendipity, then, became one of great significance, but only because there was a group of black workers at ACIPCO who were poised to take advantage of the opportunities it presented.
32 James Baskerville, known to his fellow workers as “Big Boy,” testified in 1971: We [organized the Committee] because I was serving on the Auxiliary Board and we didn’t have any voice in the policy making of American Cast Iron Pipe Company . . 33 Davis Jordan made similar observations and also spoke of white employees’ lack of an effective grievance procedure. In an interview in 2003 he recalled: [A]t that time we didn’t have no type of representation. We had somewhat of an Auxiliary Board that was supposed to have been representing the COMMITTEE FOR EQUAL JOB OPPORTUNITY 23 black employees.
Birmingham and the Long Black Freedom Struggle by Robert W. Widell Jr.