Birmingham keeps shaky truce as bi-racial group seeks pact

BIRMINGHAM, Ala., May 9, 1963 (UPI) -- Negro and white leaders plunged into 11th hour negotiations today in an attempt to head off another outbreak of civil rights demonstrations. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., leaders of the massive racial protests that have sent more than 2200 Negroes to jail, and two of his aides departed abruptly from their motel shortly before noon en route to a conference.

It was learned that top leaders representing the white community also had been summoned to another negotiating session somewhere in the city.


A shaky truce prevailed. Negro leaders said they were hopeful that some accord could be reached prior to an afternoon news conference called by King.

While the talks were going on, a large force of helmeted state troopers patrolled the vicinity of a park adjoining the Negro Baptist church that has been the rallying point for the Negro demonstrators.

More than 600 officers were on duty in the city and local authorities expressed confidence they could maintain order.

The big problem appeared to be among the Negro leadership, sharply divided as to whether full-scale demonstrations should be resumed today.

The racial truce, after which all major demonstrations were called off yesterday while last-minute details of a permanent agreement were discussed, almost fell apart in the late afternoon when Rev. King was jailed for the second time in less than a month.


The Atlanta integration leader and the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, another top officer in King's organization, were sentenced to 180 days in jail and fined $100-the maximum punishment-for violation of an ordinance requiring a permit to parade.

Bond for King, Abernathy and R. V. Fulton, a white professor, was set at $2,500. For most of their 24 associates who got the same penalty bond was only $500.

Negro businessman A. G. Gaston put up bond for King and Abernathy who returned to their motel and went immediately into long telephone conferences with associates on their next move.

Birmingham's top business executives were exerting strong behind-the-scenes influence in bringing the racial dilemma toward an area of settlement.

King's brother, A. D. King, touched off fears following the new jailings after yesterday's trials that the truce negotiated only hours before was all over.

"They have broken their faith," he said. "Plans are being made for the biggest racial demonstration this city has ever seen."

Negroes were demanding an end to lunch counter segregation, appointment of a bi-racial committee that could fix a timetable on school integration, release of all racial prisoners without punishment and job upgrading for Negroes.

Authorities reported today only about 600 of the more than 2,200 Negroes arrested in the racial crisis here within the past month remain in jail.


Negro comedian Dick Gregory was one of the demonstrators still behind bars. Hundreds of persons, mostly teen-agers, were freed jail yesterday. In other developments, evangelist Billy Graham told reporters in Paris that he would go to Birmingham to try to solve the conflict through the gospel of love if he is invited.

Former heavyweight boxing champion Floyd Patterson also said in New York that he planned to join the integration drive in Birmingham next week.

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