In April 1963 the Birmmingham protests seemed likely to fail. What did James Bevel propose to save the protest?How successful was Bevel's plan?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Bevel's plan was conducted in coordination with Dr. King.  At a time when some level of stagnation was being experienced in the 1963 Birmingham protests, Bevel proposed the idea of using school aged children and university students to help drive home the demand for Civil Rights for people of color, specifically African- Americans.  Bevel worked with the kids and leading them, they marched onto the steps of the Birmingham City Hall where they were met with police in riot gear and hoses in order to break the spirits of the protestors.  At the time, President Kennedy and the nation took notice of school aged children being abused by police officers and being hosed down with fire hoses as well as having guard dogs attack them.  This was something of a moral repugnance to the President, or something of really bad public relations.  Kennedy asked Dr. King to stop the use of the children.  As part of their original agreement to not relent until their goals of Civil Rights social and legal equality had been reached, Bevel refused to stop the use of children and planned to expand their use.  Bevel had realized that the use of children as part of the movement helped to enhance its moral aims and place the burden of moral culpability on those in the position of power.  In a shrewd move, Bevel reasoned that a nation which preached equality could not justify mistreating a grade school child marching for Civil Rights.  When President Kennedy understood that the leadership of the movement, of which Bevel had a large part, would not stop using children in its aims, the President and his advisors began the process of carving out legislation to ensure Civil Rights, asking the leadership what they wanted to see in such legislation.  In terms of Bevel's success, I would say that he was fairly successful in helping to bring about the overt racial social and institutional practices in the South.  As he and the other Civil Rights leaders understood, the battle against these covert practices in the Northern part of the United States was much more difficult as the enemy was much more elusive and more evasive than its Southern counterpart.