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Arts & Life

Remembering "bloody Tuesday" in Tuscaloosa

Boston University

When it comes to the civil rights movement, the City of Tuscaloosa is perhaps best known for the “stand in the schoolhouse door,” where Governor George Wallace tried to stop two African American students from enrolling in 1963. That’s how the Reverend Howard Linton sees it. At his barber shop in Tuscaloosa, a shave and a haircut rarely costs “two bits.” However, his customers can see artifacts from the civil rights movement on his wall. Some of the memories are painful, too. “It was a bad day for Tuscaloosa,” he recalls. “I never saw a church attacked before.” One year after Vivian Malone and James Hood were admitted as University of Alabama, and before Congress approved the Civil Rights Act, “bloody Sunday” happened. Protesters in Birmingham won promises of desegregation following the “children’s march” in 1963. A year later, a dispute in occurred in Tuscaloosa over water fountains marked “white” and “colored.” Linton says a local minister named T. Y. Rogers planned a protest march. “When the police came into the church, the chief said ‘you’re not gonna march,” Linton recalls. “T.Y. (Rogers) said they were gonna march. And, the chief said if you march, we’re gonna arrest you. So, Reverend Rogers told everyone, if they arrest you, don’t stop until to make it to the courthouse.” Protesters in Birmingham were met with fire hoses and police dogs during the 1963 “children’s march.” Linton says the response in Tuscaloosa was similar, with white men lining Greensboro Avenue during the protest march, carrying weapons including baseball bats. “They surrounded the church with anybody I guess who wanted to whup a black man that day for marching they deputized him,” recalled present-day Tuscaloosa Councilman Harrison. Taylor. He was one of the teenagers participating in the protest. Witnesses say the violence continued to the First African Baptist Church, where windows were shattered with cans of tear gas. Odessa Warwick was inside. “I was in the corner up where the pulpit behind over there behind over there in the corner,” she recalls. “And they beat me so bad in my head and all tween my legs and everywhere” The dispute over the segregated water fountains was later resolved, and the signs reading “white” and “colored” were taken down. Warwick says that didn’t make much of a difference the first time she tried to get a drink of water from the fountains at the courthouse. “They said…where you going ….I said I’m going to the bathroom ….nah you can’t go to the bathroom cause you black,” Warwick says. “I had a good friend of mine who was white and she said ‘come on Odessa I’m gonna carry you to the bathroom’ and so she did and we been friends ever since.” Councilman Taylor remembers his first drink from those fountains as well. He hopes others will remember “bloody Tuesday” as a sign of what can be accomplished. “If you think about it one side had an unjust law dogs fire hoses police guns and one had prayer singing and faith,” he says. “And the one had prayer singing and faith made a difference”…

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