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MLK Conducts Pool Hall Pilgrimage in Birmingham

May 13, 1963 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. conducted a pool-hall pilgrimage today to keep the Negro population in Birmingham, Alabama calm amidst the current racial crisis. Dr. King, accompanied by the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and other aides, entered two pool parlors in the Negro section to preach nonviolence. The men sought to persuade Negroes to refrain from repeating the rioting of last Saturday night and Sunday morning. The riots started after the A.G. Gaston Motel, Negro headquarters, and the home of the Rev. A.D. King, Dr. King’s younger brother, were bombed. Negroes poured into the streets and began throwing bricks and rocks, a white cab driver was stabbed, and stores and houses were set afire. In a pool parlor on 17th Street, Mr. Abernathy introduced Dr. King to some 20 young Negro pool players as “our leader,” adding, “Whatever he tells us to do, we must be willing to do it.” Dr. King said those who had bombed the motel and his brother’s house “were trying to sabotage all that we are trying to do.” Conceding that the incident had set off an emotional reaction among Negroes, Dr. King exhorted the pool players to remain nonviolent. “We must not beat up any policemen, as brutal as they may be,” he said. “We must not stab anybody, and we must not burn down any stores.” Then Mr. Abernathy asked everyone to pledge himself to nonviolence by saying “aye.” A great shout of “aye” went up.


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