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Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

About this collection

On March 6, 1965 – one day before the demonstration now known as Bloody Sunday took place in Selma, Alabama -- seventy-two white citizens from throughout Alabama gathered on the steps of the Dallas County Courthouse to demonstrate support for the planned Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march.  An off-shoot of the interracial Alabama Council on Human Relations, the group was comprised of white Alabamians who were ready to do more and talk less about the need for social change.   They called themselves the Concerned White Citizens of Alabama (CWCA).

 

In response to suggestions from Civil Rights Movement leaders and organizers of the Voting Rights March, CWCA members prepared and served food to marchers at stops along their way from Selma to the state capitol when the Voting Rights March took place in March 1965.  Later that year, the group began to raise funds to support the legal defense of Caliph Washington, a young man they believed was a victim of police brutality—another issue with which the group was concerned from its inception.  The group ratified its organizational constitution on May 8, 1965.  The Concerned White Citizens of Alabama records consist of the organization’s constitution, statement of purpose, minutes from meetings, and correspondence between officers of the organization and a variety of supporters, media representatives, and elected officials.   In addition, the records contain membership cards, mailing lists, envelopes, flyers, bank statements, and many more.  Of particular interest are flyers distributed throughout the state by the CWCA, as well as a series of sworn citizens’ statements related to the case of Caliph Washington. These items were donated by the group’s secretary, Eileen Walbert, to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in 1992.

 
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