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RFK Speaks Out on Birmingham

May 4, 1963 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy warned last night that refusal to grant equal rights to Negroes in Birmingham, Alabama “makes increasing turmoil inevitable.” However, he questioned the “timing” of the massive demonstrations staged by Negroes in the city yesterday that led to hundreds of arrests. In a statement, Mr. Kennedy said, “An injured, maimed, or dead child is a price that none of us can afford to pay.” Many of those taking part in the demonstrations in the last two days have been children. Pointing out that a new city government was recently elected, Mr. Kennedy said the new officials had made clear their intention to “resolve the difficulties facing the community.” He called on Birmingham leaders to use their influence to end the conflict. He said he had been in contact with both white and Negro leaders in the city. Mr. Kennedy said the Negro demonstrations were understandable expressions of resentment by “people who have been the victims of abuse and deprivations of their most basic rights.” But he said he hoped “for the sake of everyone” that a solution could be worked out in meetings between both sides, and “not in the streets.”


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