Coinciding with school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, Shuttlesworth arranged a challenge to Birmingham's all-white Phillips High School in September 1957, nearly suffering death at the hands of an angry mob. In a few places all men could vote, but in the vast majority of locations it depended on whether you owned property or paid certain taxes. Some boroughs, such as those in the rapidly growing industrial towns of Birmingham and Manchester, had no MPs to represent them at all. His two murderers were arrested the day after Till's disappearance. Both were acquitted a month later, after the jury of all white men deliberated for 67 minutes and then issued their "Not Guilty" verdict. The vast majority of the working classes, as well as women, were still excluded from voting and the Act failed to introduce a secret ballot. The working classes felt betrayed by an act which made no real difference to their lives.
In response, civil rights devotees adopted a dual strategy of direct action combined with nonviolent resistance, employing acts of civil disobedience. Such acts served to incite crisis situations between civil rights proponents and governmental authorities.