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After the March

BIRMINGHAM CHANGES

On May 23, 1963, the Alabama Supreme Court unanimously ruled Albert Boutwell the winner of the mayoral election. The city council replaced the commissioners. Bull Connor was out of a job. “This,” he said, “is the worst day of my life.”

While the events of April and May 1963—especially the children’s marches—brought about an agreement between Birmingham’s white business leaders and the black population, actually implementing that agreement required many more months of efforts that yielded success only in fits and starts.

Some hopeful changes occurred almost immediately. On June 5, the Tutwiler, Birmingham’s ritziest hotel, voluntarily began accepting black guests. On June 23, downtown department stores removed “White” and “Colored” signs from bathrooms and drinking fountains.

The next week, newly designated Mayor Boutwell desegregated the city’s golf courses as his first official action under the agreement. Public libraries had been informally desegregated by demonstrators and were soon officially integrated. Their bathrooms, however, were not and remained locked; all patrons—black and white—had to seek facilities elsewhere.

On July 23, 1963, the city council took the most dramatic step of all: it repealed Birmingham’s Segregation Ordinances. The following week, downtown stores integrated their restaurants and lunch counters.

The repeal of the ordinances also officially applied to taverns, movie theaters, pool and billiard rooms, bowling alleys, railroads and street railroads, toilets, buses, and taxis. But not to public schools or universities.

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