Children's March 1963: A Defiant Moment

Fifty years later, participants recall standing up to Bull Connor in the fight for civil rights.

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C. Virginia Fields, the former Manhattan borough president in New York City and president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, marched as a Birmingham teen in 1963 and found herself in a Birmingham jail at the age of 17. "I didn't march in May because I had been jailed for marching in April, and my case was still tied up in court," said Fields, who graduated from Carver High School in January 1963. "I spent six days in jail after participating in the Good Friday march led by Dr. King.

"My mother was a leader in the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. We attended Bethel Baptist Church where Rev. [Fred] Shuttlesworth had been our pastor," she said.

"We were teenagers, and we had already seen so much. We knew this had to change. My church was bombed. My pastor's home was bombed. We wanted a better life," she said. "This started me on a path and believing that using my voice, I can make a difference."

Denise Stewart grew up in Birmingham, Ala., in the 1960s and is a freelance journalist based in Alabama.

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