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In Florida, school textbooks for white and black students were segregated in separate warehouses.
In Washington, D.C., black people could not bury their dead dogs or cats in the same pet cemeteries used by whites. Public parks were segregated. Even jails and prisons had separate sections for black prisoners.
You are an African American born into slavery in 1845. When you are in your twenties, the U.S. Congress ratifies the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. Still, you know that even though the laws have changed, the hearts and minds of certain Americans in your community have not changed.
Which would you do?
Get a job working on a local farm to improve your way of life; keep quiet about your status in society
Move to a city and try to get an education; join a group that speaks out against prejudice
Progressive Era Reformers Booker T. Washington W.E.B. Du Bois
Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the Southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, And the sudden smell of burning flesh! Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop, Here is a strange and bitter crop. Abel Meeropol , performed by Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit” (video footage)
Smith v. Allwright (44) - overturned the Democratic Party's use of all-white primaries in Texas, and other states where the party used the rule
Sweatt v. Painter (50) – separate professional schools for blacks failed to meet the test of equality
separate school failed to qualify, both because of quantitative differences in facilities and intangible factors, such as its isolation from most of the future lawyers with whom its graduates would interact. The court held that, when considering graduate education, intangibles must be considered as part of "substantive equality."
FIRST DAY The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education integrated the schools. But today its meaning is at issue. Here, the first day of desegregation, on Sept. 8, 1954, at Fort Myer Elementary School in Fort Myer, Va.
accused the Supreme Court of "clear abuse of judicial power."
promised to use "all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation."
People across the country, like these from Poolesville, Maryland, in 1956, took to the streets to protest integration. This kind of opposition exposed the deep divide in the nation, and revealed the difficulty of enforcing the high court’s decision. (Courtesy of Washington Star Collection, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library)
Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas; African American students arriving in a U.S. Army car. Supplied by NAACP
As white students jeer her and Arkansas National Guards look on, Elizabeth Eckford enters Little Rock Central High School in 1957 Eckford didn’t receive the call from the NAACP stating they would provide transportation; she set out along to desegregate Central High.
"One of the fascinating stories to come out of the reunion was the apology that Hazel Bryan Massery made to Elizabeth Eckford for a terrible moment caught forever by the camera. That 40-year-old picture of hate assailing grace — which had gnawed at Ms. Massery for decades — can now be wiped clean, and replaced by a snapshot of two friends. The apology came from the real Hazel Bryan Massery, the decent woman who had been hidden all those years by a fleeting image. And the graceful acceptance of that apology was but another act of dignity in the life of Elizabeth Eckford."
Had there been no May 17, 1954, I’m not sure there would have been a Little Rock. I’m not sure there would have been a Martin Luther King Jr., or Rosa Parks, had it not been for May 17, 1954. It created an environment for us to push, for us to pull.
We live in a different country, a better country, because of what happened here in 1954. And we must never forget it. We must tell the story again, over and over and over.
— U.S. Rep. John Lewis at a ceremony commemorating the 48th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education at Topeka’s First United Methodist Church
Montgomery Improvement Association – organized a boycott of Montgomery busses
“ It was time for someone to stand up – or, in my case, sit down” – Rosa Parks
If any single event touched off the activist phase of the civil rights movement, it was the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56. Triggered by the refusal of a black seamstress, Mrs. Rosa Parks, to take her place at the back of a city bus when the driver demanded it, this grass-roots movement led by the young Martin Luther King lasted for just over a year, from 1955 to late in the next year. For the first time since the depression, political initiative shifted from Washington back into the country itself, in this case the courts, schools, lunch counters, courthouses, streets and jails of the South. ---from The Experience of Politics Cartoon by Laura Gray, first appeared in The Militant, 2/13/56
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
President – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Grassroots movement to organize black churches – strong sources of power; had flourished in Jim Crow South
Influenced by Gandhi’s satyagraha – striving for justice through love, suffering and conversion of the aggressor
Civil disobedience – the refusal to obey an unjust law
“ We will not hate you, but we cannot …obey your unjust laws…We will soon wear you down by our capacity to suffer. And in winning our freedom, we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process” - A Christmas Sermon on Peace on Christmas eve 1967
Prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education
Outlawed racial segregation in all public places and most private businesses
During his signing of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson shook hands with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (United Press International/ File 1964) '' We have lost the South for a generation . - LBJ"
granted African American men the right to vote by declaring that the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
So, what kept African Americans from voting in some Southern states?
“ If you think we are here to tell you to love the white man, you have come to the wrong place.”
Malcolm X Early beliefs: Nation of Islam Later: views towards whites softened; “ballots or bullets” Stokely Carmichael Organizer for SNCC; later became a Black Panther
New Groups Emerge Nation of Islam* Whites = evil, black separatism, armed self-defense Black Panthers Black nationalism, black power, armed revolt, self-sufficiency, equal housing, employment, protested AA in Vietnam
Was the nonviolent civil rights movement of the 1960s a success? Why or why not? Can it be argued that the violent protests of the civil rights movement were more successful than the nonviolent protests?