Interview with Rev. Joseph Ellwanger
QUESTION 26
INTERVIEWER:

GIVE ME A LITTLE, A BRIEF WORD PICTURE OF WHAT BIRMINGHAM WAS LIKE THAT, YOU KNOW, APRIL 1963, OR IN THE SIXTIES IN GENERAL AND AROUND THAT TIME IN TERMS OF RACE RELATIONS AND BE AS SPECIFIC AS YOU CAN, SOME CONCRETE DETAILS.

Rev. Joseph Ellwanger:

Now Birmingham in 1963 was about as segregated a city in the south as you could find. There were still signs over water fountains. There were no black clerks in downtown stores. There were no blacks in the police or the fire department. And there were a lot of open uh, threats on the part of the police commissioner, Bull Connor, uh against any attempts to uh, to gain some of these rights. Um, so that, so there was not even a single forum where Blacks and Whites regularly came together except for the Birmingham Council on Human Relations which was uh, suspect as uh some kind of Communist organization by virtue of the very fact that Blacks and Whites came together. And that group numbered about uh, forty or fifty on paper and when we actually met we were like maybe uh fifteen to twenty-five.