Why We Can’t Wait

by

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Eugene “Bull” Connor (Bull Connor) Character Analysis

Bull Connor was the Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham, Alabama from 1957 to 1963. A racist who fought to uphold segregation, he used aggressive tactics to intimidate Black protestors working with Dr. King and the movement for racial equality. Dr. King and his fellow organizers saw Bull Connor as a major obstacle in the push for desegregation, but they managed to weaponize Connor’s own aggressive tactics against him by using nonviolent direct action. For instance, when Connor ordered his men to sic dogs on peaceful protestors or spray them with pressure hoses, the aggressive nature of his orders attracted attention from the national media, spotlighting the police’s unjust treatment of nonviolent Black citizens. In 1963, Connor ran for mayor but lost to Albert Boutwell, yet another segregationist. After refusing to leave his post after the election, Connor was eventually ordered out of office.
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Eugene “Bull” Connor (Bull Connor) Character Timeline in Why We Can’t Wait

The timeline below shows where the character Eugene “Bull” Connor (Bull Connor) appears in Why We Can’t Wait. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Bull Connor’s Birmingham
History, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Complacency, Ignorance, and the Status Quo Theme Icon
The Commissioner of Public Safety in Birmingham was a racist man named Eugene “Bull” Connor . He made a point of doing whatever he could to preserve desegregation and oppress... (full context)
History, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Unity, Community Organizing, and Leadership Theme Icon
Complacency, Ignorance, and the Status Quo Theme Icon
...Birmingham. Shuttlesworth’s goal was to address inequality in Birmingham and to put an end to Bull Connor ’s racist reign over the city. The ACHR was part of the Southern Christian Leadership... (full context)
Unity, Community Organizing, and Leadership Theme Icon
...remembered there was a local election taking place on March 5th. The top candidates were Bull Connor , Albert Boutwell, and Tom King. All of them were segregationists, and because Dr. King... (full context)
Unity, Community Organizing, and Leadership Theme Icon
Complacency, Ignorance, and the Status Quo Theme Icon
...because there was no clear winner, meaning that there would be a run-off election between Bull Connor and Albert Boutwell in early April. Once again, Dr. King and the others were forced... (full context)
Chapter 4: New Day in Birmingham
History, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Even though he lost the mayoral election, Bull Connor maintained that he couldn’t actually be removed from his position as Commissioner of Public Safety... (full context)
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Unity, Community Organizing, and Leadership Theme Icon
Complacency, Ignorance, and the Status Quo Theme Icon
...Boutwell’s administration the chance to bring about change, hoping he would be more just than Bull Connor . What’s more, some leaders were offended that Dr. King and his associates hadn’t consulted... (full context)
History, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Hope Theme Icon
Complacency, Ignorance, and the Status Quo Theme Icon
...that the police were relatively restrained in their use of force. Dr. King suspects that Bull Connor had recognized that responding violently would look bad (though he also notes that this nonviolence... (full context)
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Unity, Community Organizing, and Leadership Theme Icon
Bull Connor also held back from violence because he had another trick up his sleeve: the Birmingham... (full context)
Chapter 6: Black and White Together
History, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Complacency, Ignorance, and the Status Quo Theme Icon
As the jails filled to capacity, Bull Connor gave up his nonviolent tactics. By May 4th, the national media displayed pictures of police... (full context)
History, Progress, and Change Theme Icon
Complacency, Ignorance, and the Status Quo Theme Icon
Even as negotiations began, violence erupted in the streets. Bull Connor used increasingly aggressive tactics, and some Black citizens who weren’t part of the movement retaliated... (full context)
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...only reversed the decision but also reprimanded the Board of Education. And the next day, Bull Connor was finally pushed out of office by the Alabama Supreme Court. (full context)