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During the March

D-DAY / MAY 2, 1963

On the morning of May 2, regular WENN listeners heard the words they'd been waiting for: “Kids, said popular black DJ Shelley Stewart, 'there’s gonna be a party at the park. Bring your toothbrushes because lunch will be served.”

Many kids headed straight to Sixteenth Street Baptist Church that morning. Other kids showed up at school and then left as soon as they got the word from march leaders.

Organizers asked children for their vital statistics—name, age, parents’ names, and address. In case of emergency, they had to know whom to contact.

They arranged the eight hundred or so young demonstrators into groups of fifty, each group in double-file lines.

At one o’clock, a DJ at WENN played the gospel song “All Men Created by God,” the cue to start the march. The double doors of Sixteenth Street Baptist swung open.

The first group of protesters was arrested almost immediately and taken away in paddy wagons. As soon as they were hauled away, the next group of fifty students left the church. When that batch was arrested, another group burst from the church. When they couldn’t cram any more kids into paddy wagons, police commandeered school buses. The children climbed aboard and happily waved their arms out of the bus windows.

By the end of the day, between five and eight hundred young people had been incarcerated. This was two or three times the number of adults who had been arrested during the entire month of April.

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