Wilkins - 3
people in a certain state and hard on the heels of that intelligence
the information that one elderly Negro had appeared with $4,000 in
cash to furnish bail for the young people.
The sit-ins and the later Freedom Rides occurred in every part
of the nation. They rose to their peak in 1963 when, in Birming
ham, Ala., under the personal inspiration of the late Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr., an encounter which employed fire hose and police
dogs brought an aroused public at a realization that a determined
and inspired people could not be halted by repression. It was,
indeed, a time of excitement.
The next month, June, 1963, the brutal assassination of
Medgar Evers, state director of NAACP work in Mississippi, was to
add to the excitement--and sadness--of the decade. As he stepped
from his car one midnight and was about to enter his home, Evers
was killed by a rifleman hiding in the bushes across the street.
On June 1, Evers had been arrested and released on $1,000
bond for picketing downtown stores for their lily-white hiring
policies. Twelves days later he was slain.
It was a decade of satisfying achievement in which black
Americans helped their country otward it declared purpose, its
destiny. President John F. Kennedy had remained convinced that
civil rights legislation was not necessary. The dogs and fire
hoses in Birmingham helped to persuade him that he might not be
following a course in the best interests of America.
The assassination of Medgar Evers on June 12 convinced him.
On June 19 JFK announced in a brief and moving television speech
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