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Birmingham “children’s march” activist dies at 81

MLK50 Civil Disobedience Photo Gallery
Bill Hudson/AP
FILE - An African American high school student, Walter Gadsden, 15, is attacked by a police dog during a civil rights demonstration in Birmingham, Ala., May 3, 1963. Gadsden was an onlooker to the protest. On the afternoon of May 4, 1963, during a meeting at the White House with members of a political group, President Kennedy discussed this photo, which had appeared on the front page of that day's New York Times. (AP Photo/Bill Hudson, File)

Civil rights activist who took part in the 1963 protest, that became known as the “children’s march,” has died. As a young Black woman, Mamie King-Chalmers appeared in an iconic photograph about that civil rights demonstration in Alabama in 1963. She was one of three Black people forced to brace themselves against a building while being blasted with water from a firehose in Birmingham. The famous photo by Charles Moore appeared in Life magazine. King-Chalmers died in Detroit at the age of 81. Years later, King-Chalmers recalled how she was attending a protest in a Birmingham park that day when her group was confronted by police and dogs. She said in 2013 that her hearing was damaged by the force of the water. Alabama Public Radio produced an international award-winning documentary on the “children’s march,” that was titled “Civil Rights Radio.” APR interviewed some of the marchers on their participation in the march that was televised nationwide and helped garner support for the Civil Rights Act.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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