The Birmingham Children’s March: The Impact of Peer Influence on Civil Rights

In Birmingham, where a scarcity of adult volunteers forced King’s colleagues to devise alibis and side projects, the only hope for a march rested on a mass infusion of students. As in Mississippi, Bevel and Diane Nash had begun by recruiting the elite students – basketball start, Miss Parker High School – and within two weeks the workshops had become a contagion. An entire new echelon of student leaders had distinguished themselves by their ability to slip in and out of schools. Every day younger and younger students popped up in the workshops, full of bravado, ready to march to jail, and every night King presided over debates about which ones they should permit to go.

Source: Branch, Taylor, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63, Simon and Schuster, 1988, page 752.

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