Birmingham, Alabama

1963
Photograph by Charles Moore

The photographs of Bull Connor’s police dogs lunging at the marchers in Birmingham did as much as anything to transform the national mood.

Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Historian

Birmingham, Alabama

  • Charles Moore
  • 1963

Sometimes the most effective mirror is a photograph. In the summer of 1963, Birmingham was boiling over as black residents and their allies in the civil rights movement repeatedly clashed with a white power structure intent on maintaining segregation—and willing to do whatever that took. A photographer for the Montgomery Advertiser and life, Charles Moore was a native Alabaman and son of a Baptist preacher appalled by the violence inflicted on ­African Americans in the name of law and order. Though he photographed many other seminal moments of the movement, it was Moore’s image of a police dog tearing into a black protester’s pants that captured the routine, even casual, brutality of segregation. When the picture was published in life, it quickly became apparent to the rest of the world what Moore had long known: ending segregation was not about eroding culture but about restoring humanity. Hesitant politicians soon took up the cause and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 nearly a year later. 

Explore more iconic images that changed the world.Visit the TIME Shop to purchase prints, posters and more.

Visit the Shop
Return to the Collection