Negro leaders negotiate with whites on desegregation program

BIRGMINGHAM, Ala., May 10, 1963 (UPI) - Negro leaders vowed to renew massive racial demonstrations today unless a committee of businessmen accepted the final demand of a four-point desegregation program. "Things are about worked out but there are still some minute problems to be dealt with," the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said.

Rev. King, who has directed the five-week-old anti-segregation drive here, said a two-day truce would end today if the bi-racial merchants' committee failed to reach agreement on a demand for the release of 600 jailed Negroes.


A spokesman for the white business leaders negotiating with the Negroes emphasized that the businessmen "cannot negotiate" on the point of releasing the demonstrators from jail.

The spokesman said all the group could do was to recommend some kind of settlement on that issue.

The Rev. Andrew Young, one of King's aides, said he expected most of the Negro prisoners to be released from jail later today.

"No demonstrations are probable today," Young added.

One of the problems surrounding the release of the demonstrators was the severity of the charges. Most were jailed for parading without a permit. However, others were charged with hurling rocks and bottles and with carrying pistols or knives.


Tied to that problem was the question of how to lift the suspensions against young children who stayed away from school to join the demonstrations that have brought 2,200 arrests for parading without a permit.

There also was another possible stumbling block. The negotiating committee, while committing merchants to terms of the agreement, apparently was not speaking for the city.

"I regard it is an unwarranted presumption for anyone to infer or suggest that there has been a 'truce' between the City of Birmingham and anyone who violated the law," said newly elected Mayor Albert Boutwell. "I have made no commitment with reference to any matter being negotiated."

An estimated 1,200 police officers were on duty in event of trouble. Some of them were Alabama National Guard members who had been deputized as state highway policemen.

The racial protests secured "good faith" commitments from the bi-racial committee on three major issues:

--Desegregation of downtown stores, including lunch counters, rest rooms, water fountains and fitting rooms.

--Upgrading of employment by major employers in the steel city.

--Establishment of a bi-racial committee to set up a timetable for desegregation of the city and county school systems and reopening of recreational areas closed for 18 months following federal orders to integrate.


Latest Headlines