[JURIST] The mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday pardoned 2,500 people arrested in the city during nonviolent civil rights protests in the 1960s. Announcing the pardons at a city council meeting, Mayor Larry Langford [official website] said that the city had an obligation to ask for forgiveness [video] because it had "wronged so many." Langford acknowledged that many eligible people viewed their arrest records as a "badge of courage and a sign of the struggle" and would not be inclined to apply for a pardon. Bishop and civil rights leader Calvin Woods symbolically accepted [AP report] the pardon on behalf of jailed protesters.
In April 2006, Alabama Governor Bob Riley [official website] authorized pardons [JURIST report] for Rosa Parks [TIME profile], the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. [King Center profile] and other civil rights activists convicted of violating Jim Crow laws in the state. Rosa Parks helped trigger the civil rights movement across the US after she was arrested in Montgomery, AL, in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. Parks died in 2005 [JURIST report] at the age of 92.