Key Figures of the Birmingham Children’s Crusade

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

Perhaps the most well-known figure of the modern Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a fierce advocate for desegregation and racial equality in the U.S. He was one of the leaders and organizers of the Birmingham Campaign of 1963.

Between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and gave over 2,500 speeches advocating for civil rights. Throughout his life, King was arrested upwards of 20 times, his home was bombed, and he was subjected to personal abuse.

During the Birmingham Campaign, King was arrested and it was from a jail cell that he penned his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which caught national attention and is still widely read today. At the age of thirty-five, King became the youngest man to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

Learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy  here.

Governor George C. Wallace

Wallace was the governor of Alabama during the Birmingham Children’s Crusade and the larger Birmingham Campaign. He supported the use of violence- including the practice of unleashing police dogs and firehoses- by police and public safety officials to deter the young protesters.

He served as governor four times between 1962 and 1982, and ran for office on an anti-integration, pro -state’s rights platform, which won him support from the Ku Klux Klan.

Learn more about Governor Wallace here.

C. Virginia Fields

At age 17, C. Virginia Fields took part in the Birmingham Children’s Crusade, where she was arrested and spent a week in jail. She also was also one of the 250,000 people involved in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement from an early age, and eventually went on to become a New York City Council Member, President of Manhattan Borough, and a 2005 New York City mayoral candidate. Although she lost to incumbent Mayor Bloomberg, she was the first African American woman to run for Mayor of New York City.

She has a B.A. in Sociology from Knoxville College and a Master of Social Work from Indiana University.

Learn more about C. Virginia Fields here.