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Photo courtesy: The Tuscaloosa News

Stop 11: County Courthouse and Marchers 714 Greensboro Avenue

In 1955 voters approved a bond measure to build a $2.5 million county court­house and jail. During construction, the black community asked for and received assurances that the facility would be completely integrated. But when Gov. George C. Wallace, Jr., formally dedicated the courthouse on April 12, 1964, signs stipulating “white” and “colored” water fountains were in place and blacks were forced to use the restrooms in the basement. Angered by this betrayal, the Tuscaloosa Citizens for Action Committee met with the County Commission to pressure them to fulfill their promise to integrate the courthouse. The denial of their requests prompted Rev. T. Y. Rogers, Jr., pastor of First African Baptist Church and executive secretary of the TCAC, to organize a protest march to the courthouse. The status of the courthouse-should it be segregated or integrated-quickly became a flashpoint for racial tensions building in the community. The Lyndon Johnson administration was pushing for a new Civil Rights Bill. Governor Wallace was touring the state and the country and proclaiming the need to segregate public school s and institutions. In Tuscaloosa, Rev. Rogers promised to follow Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, example and conduct direct action campaigns on segregated busi­nesses. Local white officials nervously called for all to follow the law, despite its segregated nature. On June 9, 1964, peaceful demonstrators from across Tuscaloosa met at the First African Baptist Church. The march had barely begun when Police Chief William Marable moved to arrest Rev. Rogers and other leaders. What followed was a violent incident known as “Bloody Tuesday.” Thirty-three protestors went to Druid City Hospital and scores more were wounded while ninety-four were jailed. The protest led to a successful federal lawsuit filed by Rev. Rogers and his colleagues to force the courthouse to integrate. 

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