Civil rights protesters receive pardon

Aug. 12, 2009 at 8:57 AM
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The mayor of Birmingham, Ala., has issued formal pardons to participants in the 1960s civil rights movement that changed race relations in the United States.

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford said he was surprised to learn that no formal pardon was ever issued for participants in the rights movement, WIAT-TV, Birmingham, reported Wednesday.

"It's only right that we issue the pardon," said the mayor during his Tuesday address to the Birmingham City Council.

Langford invited some of the city's prominent players during the civil rights movement to witness the official pardon proclamation being read.

Attending were Bishop Calvin Woods, representing himself and his deceased brother, Abraham, who were key players in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as well as Sephira Shuttlesworth, wife of Fred Shuttlesworth, a founding member of the SCLC, the television station said.

Also in attendance was former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, who tried and convicted Bobby Frank Cherry for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in which four young girls died.

Langford said he expected some people would refuse the pardon because they were proud of their roles in the movement.

"No records will be expunged unless the people receiving the pardon want it off their record," he said.

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