[In December of 1965, SCLC and its local affiliate ACMHR began a Christmas Project in Birmingham AL, to register Black voters using the four month old Voting Rights Act. Some 80,000 to 90,000 unregistered Blacks lived in Jefferson County, the highest concentration of unregistered voters in Alabama. It was hoped that a large number of newly-registered Blacks might begin to exert influence in the upcoming local and state elections scheduled for 1966. SCLC asked participants from the SCOPE summer project and others to spend their Christmas break working on the Birmingham registration campaign to canvas neighborhoods and bring potential voters to the county courthouse for registration.
SCLC and ACMHR leaders asked the country Board of Registrars to stay open in the evening and go into the neighborhoods to find unregistered voters. The Board refused. Street demonstrations to pressure the county and demand that Federal voter-registration officials be sent to Jefferson County began on December 28 and continued for three weeks. In the second week of January, SCLC leader Hosea Williams sent SCLC staff into the Black schools to pull the children out and then marched them around downtown Birmingham, snarling traffic. The city responded by getting a temporary restraining order. The Department of Justice announced on January 20 that federal examiners would be sent to Jefferson County. The voter registration campaign continued until the March deadline for qualifying voters for the May 3 elections.
See Birmingham Voter Registration Campaign for more detail.]
See Birmingham Voter Registration Campaign (CRMVet History & Timeline) for more information.
Birmingham Voter Registration Project (report), Jo Freeman, SCLC, 1966.
Voter Registration Brochure, (ACMHR/SCLC 1965). [PDF]
Register Now! Flyer, January 1966
Press Release, Jan 11, 1966, (ACMHR/SCLC).
Press Release #1, Jan 14, 1966, (ACMHR/SCLC).
Press Release #2, Jan 14, 1966, (ACMHR/SCLC).
Press Release, March 26, 1966, (ACMHR/SCLC).