On New Year's Day, 1962 the undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide beat Arkansas 10-3, giving Bear Bryant his first national championship. Over the same weekend Bear's professed number one fan, "Bull " Connor, had the Birmingham city parks -- 1,500 acres, valued at $9 million -- posted with "No Trespassing" signs and announced that he would sell off the people's property to private investors rather than integrate. After golfers sneaked onto the public links to play anyway, the holes were plugged with cement.
Direct Action is a film that explores a pivotal story beyond the headlines during the civil rights turmoil that gripped Birmingham, Alabama between the years 1961-63. Local and national black activists rallied thousands of citizens in protests and boycotts against segregation while the shocked world looked on. Out of the public eye pragmatic businessman Sid Smyer fronted a reformist white business movement who met secretly with black leaders in support of gradual integration. But Birmingham officials led by Public Safety Commissioner “Bull” Connor thwarted their efforts by enacting and enforcing local segregation laws. Facing alienation from peers and hostility from the local government, Smyer, other businessmen and a small group of lawyers orchestrated the historic change in government that ousted Bull Connor with the other commissioners and helped dramatically alter Birmingham’s social-economic and political future.