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Harrison E. Salisbury
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Harrison E. Salisbury, "Fear and Hatred Grip Birmingham." The New York Times
April 12, 1960.

Birmingham's whites and blacks share a community of fear. Some Negroes have nicknamed Birmingham the Johannesburg of America.

"The difference between Johannesburg and Birmingham," said a Negro who came South recently from the Middle West, "is that here they have not yet opened fire with the tanks and big guns."

"I have lived in Alabama all my life," said a newspaperman. "Birmingham is going to blow one of these days. And when that happens that's one story I don't want to be around to cover."

"Remember," a business man said, "Birmingham is no place for irresponsible reporting. Be careful of what you say and who you mention. Lives are at stake."

"I'm ashamed to have to talk to you off the record," said an educator. "It is not for myself. But these are not ordinary times. The dangers are very real and people up North must realize that."

"Excuse me," an educated Negro woman said. "But I just don't understand the white people around here. They seem to act so crazy. It doesn't make any sense. Don't they know there is a limit to what people will stand?"

"If you sow hate, you reap hate," said a Negro pastor.

Copyright © 1960 The New York Times Co.  Selected from the Library of America anthology.  See  Reporting  Civil  Rights:  American Journalism 1941-1963.