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The mayor of Birmingham is issuing a blanket pardon for thousands of people who were arrested in the Alabama city during civil rights protests in the 1960s.

Mayor Larry Langford announced the pardon during a City Council meeting Tuesday. He said it’s for those arrested for nonviolent protests.

A longtime civil rights leader, Calvin Woods, accepted the pardon on behalf of thousands of people arrested during demonstrations against racial segregation in the city.

But the mayor says he expects many people to refuse to request certificates of pardon because they consider their arrest records to be a badge of courage.

Some 2,500 people, many of them children, went to jail during protests in Birmingham in 1963. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was among them.

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