All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Colin Davis

Advisory Committee Members

Jordan Bauer

Pamela King

John Van Sant

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION: SLUM CLEARANCE AND URBAN RENEWAL IN BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA, 1950-1960 MICHAEL D. BARRETT HISTORY ABSTRACT In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to Birmingham, Alabama as the “Most segregated city in America.” The city’s history of racial subjugation and conflict certainly validates King’s statement. Yet should Birmingham stand alone when it comes to racial segregation through the auspices of federal housing programs? The Housing Act of 1949 provided federal funds for slum clearance and urban renewal projects in city centers. Title I of the Act gave local housing agencies authority to determine the areas for redevelopment. Many cities across the country took advantage of While acknowledging the racial discord in Birmingham and the violent actions of local authorities to maintain segregation, this thesis contends that racial segregation through federal slum clearance, urban renewal, and public housing programs existed equally in both southern and northern cities during the period from 1950 to 1970. Focusing strictly on how city leaders and public housing officials conducted the process of site selection, provided homes for displaced persons, and their questionable actions on receiving funding, clearly demonstrates that Birmingham no more deserved the title of “most segregated city” than any other city.



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