Press Release - Detail
For immediate release Wednesday, March 9, 2016
CONTACT: Roy L. Williams, Director of Public Relations    
Birmingham Public Library                                               
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 568-0067                                                        
Sisters who participated in the 1963 Children’s March in Birmingham to speak at Smithfield Library
What: “Through the Eyes of Three Sisters,” a talk about the Children’s Crusade by sisters Gwendolyn Sanders Gamble, Dorothy Sanders Durr and Deborah Sanders Smith
When:  Thursday, March 10, 10 a.m.
Where: Smithfield Branch Library, #1 Eighth Ave. West, Birmingham, AL 35204, 205-325-8428
BIRMINGHAM, AL—Gwendolyn Sanders Gamble, Dorothy Sanders Durr and Deborah Sanders Smith were just teenagers in 1963 when they participated in a children’s march in downtown Birmingham that transformed race relations across the United States.
At the time, Birmingham’s segregation laws led it be known as the most racist city in America, attracting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to lead peaceful protests. After the Rev. James Bevel, a close advisor to King, came up with the idea of protest marches led by children, the three sisters got involved in the effort.
On Thursday, March 10, at 10 a.m., the Sanders siblings will present a program at the Smithfield Library, #1 Eighth Ave. West, called “Through the Eyes of Three Sisters,” detailing how they participated in a series of marches that became known as the Mighty Children’s Crusade. Their talk will include details to be unveiled in their new book, “Through the Eyes of Three Sisters,” being released later this year.
“As we are preparing for the publishing of our book, we would like to share some of the highlights of our stories and the direct contact we had as children with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Commissioner Eugene (Bull) Connor, the KKK, the Birmingham Police Department, and the many endeavors we faced during those difficult times,” the sisters said in a statement.
On May 2, 1963, the Sanders sisters joined thousands of students who left their classrooms and gathered at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. They then left in groups of 50 to march downtown, and were among many children arrested on the streets.
The next day, the Sanders sisters were among hundreds of children who while participating in a peaceful protest march in Kelly Ingram Park downtown were attacked by police dogs and fire hoses turned on them at the command of the Commissioner of Public Safety, Bull Connor.
The shocking television images of fire hoses and police attack dogs unleashed on children made news headlines across the globe, and played a role in President John F. Kennedy signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law a year later. In their presentation, the Sanders sisters will share the racial climate for blacks in Birmingham in 1963 and give a personal account from all three siblings’ perspectives of the children’s march.
For additional information about the programs and services of the Birmingham Public Library, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BPL. The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library service to our citizens for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with 19 locations and serving the community for 129 years—is one of the largest library systems in the southeast.
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