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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Shores, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Operation New Birmingham promotes progress in Birmingham

Despite the progress made in advancing the interests of African Americans in Birmingham, much of it stewarded by the civic group Operation New Birmingham, Shores is disappointed with the pace of change.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Shores, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
Tell me a little about . . . what's it called?
ARTHUR SHORES:
Operation Birmingham. Operation New Birmingham?
JACK BASS:
Right, Operation New Birmingham.
ARTHUR SHORES:
Well, Operation New Birmingham had its origin in that a group of blacks listed several things that really needed attending to in the city. One, there were no blacks on the police force. And by concerted effort . . . it was through Operation New Birmingham that we were able to get blacks on. So new we have about 38.
JACK BASS:
This was beginning when?
ARTHUR SHORES:
Oh, it was shortly after this . . .'63. I don't know exactly.
JACK BASS:
Were you involved directly in Operation New Birmingham?
ARTHUR SHORES:
Oh yes. Still am. I'm on the board of directors and on the executive committee.
JACK BASS:
Was that sort of a prelude before your appointment to city council? Your involvement in Operation New Birmingham.
ARTHUR SHORES:
Un . . . yes, I was a member of Operation New Birmingham at the time.
JACK BASS:
What are some of the other areas of concern? Let me ask you—get back to the police. That's 38 out of how many?
ARTHUR SHORES:
Oh, 500. Between 5 and 600.
JACK BASS:
Are you satisfied with that rate of progress?
ARTHUR SHORES:
No, we also had an ordinance passed requiring the city to institute what is known as an affirmative action program for not only hiring in the police department but in all of the departments. And to make periodic reports as to how it's coming along. Now one of the problems really was getting blacks to apply. See, blacks have had sort of reluctance to come [into] police work. And those who did have the qualifications were in the position to get better paying jobs being paid by the police department. But now they are able to . . . they're gradually increasing the number.
JACK BASS:
How about the fire department?
ARTHUR SHORES:
Well, it's been . . . it's very slow. I don't think we have over two in the fire department. There haven't been applicants. For so long . . . I mean blacks have been conditioned on certain jobs that its just been hard to interest them in certain jobs. I might also mention that after the last primaries you had several contests or challenges by defeated candidates. And I have served as one of the hearing officers, or members to determine. The last one we had was two persons where one was nominated for supreme court and the defeated challenger. . . . That was the last hearing we have had.