May 21, 1901
May 17, 1934
May 18, 1933
May 19, 1963
May 20, 1894
May 20, 1961
May 21, 1861
This Week in Alabama History
May 17 - 23
The Constitutional Convention of 1901 assembles in Montgomery to write Alabama's sixth constitution. Convention president John B. Knox of Anniston, pointing to ongoing "race conflict" in state politics, explained that the foremost objective of the convention was "to establish white supremacy in this State." The delegates accomplished that by producing a document that effectively disfranchised blacks, along with poor whites. Voters ratified the Constitution of 1901 in November of that year.
Other Events this Week
The Ave Maria Grotto park is dedicated at the St. Bernard Benedictine Abbey in Cullman. Known by visitors from around the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature," the park is filled with miniature re-creations of historic buildings by monk Joseph Zoettl.
Congress establishes the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The New Deal program would have a lasting impact on Alabama, especially the northern third of the state. As its focus, TVA constructed hydroelectric dams on the Tennessee River, which, among other benefits, brought electricity to rural areas and attracted industry.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail" is issued to the public in a press release. Begun April 16 from the Birmingham City Jail, where King was under arrest for participation in civil rights demonstrations, the letter was addressed to eight local clergymen who had recently urged civil rights leaders to use the courts and local negotiations instead of mass demonstrations to promote their cause in Birmingham. King's letter, which soon became a classic text of the civil rights movement, rejected the clergymen's plea.
The first bloodshed of the 1894 miners' strike occurs when a strike breaker is killed by striking miners near Birmingham. In their first show of industrial strength and discontent, 8,000 Alabama miners left the job in April 1894. The strike was over by August, as the powerful coal companies prevailed with the help of the State Militia and leased convicts.
The Freedom Riders arrive at the Greyhound bus terminal in Montgomery where they are attacked by an angry mob. The Freedom Ride, an integrated bus trip from Washington D.C., through the Deep South, was formed to test the 1960 Supreme Court decision prohibiting segregation in bus and train terminal facilities. Before reaching Montgomery, they had already suffered violent reprisals in Anniston and Birmingham. The Freedom Ride eventually resulted in a campaign that caused the Interstate Commerce Commission to rule against segregated facilities in interstate travel.
The Confederate Congress meets for the last time in Montgomery. Montgomery served as capital for just three months, from February to May 1861. After Virginia joined the Confederacy in April 1861, leaders urged the move to the larger city of Richmond, which was closer to the military action.
Listen: Click the play button below to hear Archives Staff discuss this event on Alabama Public Radio.