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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 500

The main characters (all real people) whom Martin Luther King Jr. refers to are the following:

  • Dr. King himself—King is the author of the book and the leader of the nonviolent movement to attain civil rights for African American people. In this book, he explains why 1963 is a watershed year for the movement and explains his nonviolent methods of achieving desegregation.
  • Eugene "Bull" Connor—King refers to the Commissioner of Public Safety in the city of Birmingham, Alabama, as "Bull Connor." King discusses the reign of terror that Connor has unleashed in Birmingham, in which "the silent password [is] fear" (36). King describes Connor's violent, fear-inducing tactics to explain why the Civil Rights movement focused on desegregating Birmingham in 1963.
  • George Wallace—Wallace is the segregationist governor of Alabama whose 1963 inaugural address featured the words, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" (36). King quotes Wallace to explain why the Civil Rights movement focused on desegregating Birmingham, which King refers to as "the most segregated city in America" (36).
  • Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth—Shuttlesworth organized the Alabama Christian Movement for Civil Rights in the spring of 1956 to challenge the reign of Bull Connor in Birmingham. He teams up with King to defeat Bull Connor in Birmingham.
  • Ralph Albernathy is a colleague of Dr. King in the nonviolent campaign to end segregation.
  • King refers to many figures in American history, including Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, and writes the following about Birmingham: “You might have concluded that here was a city which had been trapped for decades in a Rip Van Winkle slumber; a city whose fathers had apparently never heard of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, the Bill of Rights, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments, or the 1954 decision of the United states Supreme Court outlawing segregation in the public schools” (44).
  • Albert Boutwell is elected mayor of Birmingham over Bull Connor. Although King writes that Boutwell...

(The entire section contains 500 words.)

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