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Freedom's Main LineThe Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom Rides$
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Derek Charles Catsam

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125114

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125114.001.0001

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The Magic City

The Magic City

Showdown in Birmingham

(p.159) Chapter 7 The Magic City
Freedom's Main Line


University Press of Kentucky

During the postwar period, Birmingham named itself the Magic City. This was because of the advance of heavy industry in the region, particularly the steel industry. As a result the population of Birmingham almost doubled during the period between 1940 and 1960. This growth was associated with the oligarchy of the “mules”, or the powerful industrialists. These big mules avoided politics and became actively involved only when their interests were threatened. Some perceived Birmingham to be America's most racist city, or “America's Johannesburg”. This chapter charts the course of various disputes regarding race and skin color across Birmingham and discusses how the Freedom Riders became involved in dealing with such issues.

Keywords:   Birmingham, steel industry, industrialists, America's Johannesburg, racist, Freedom Riders

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