Ad Hoc Beatniks: The Committee to End Discrimination, 1963-1964

They ultimately achieved significant concessions for fair employment practices for African Americans in San Francisco. By Ammar Alqatari The Ad-Hoc Committee to End Discrimination played an instrumental role in the organization of the San Francisco civil rights movement during 1963-64. The group, formed mostly by young members of the Du Bois Clubs, organized and lead[…]

The ‘Red Power Movement’: Native Americans and Civil Rights in the 1960s

Events during the movement included the Occupation of Alcatraz, the Trail of Broken Treaties, the Occupation of Wounded Knee. Introduction The Red Power movement was a social movement led by Native American youth to demand self-determination for Native Americans in the United States. Organizations that were part of Red Power Movement included American Indian Movement[…]

How the Media Covered the Children’s March in the Civil Rights Movement

Not only was the children’s march relegated to lesser news, it was delivered without many pictures. Images of young black protesters being hit with fire hoses and police dogs in 1963 Birmingham are considered iconic. Hank Klibanoff saw them too. He was a fourteen year old paperboy in Florence when the Children’s march took place.[…]

Ax Handle Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida, 1960

A group of 200 middle aged and older white men gathered in Hemming Park armed with baseball bats and ax handles. Ax Handle Saturday was a racially motivated attack that took place in Hemming Park in Jacksonville, Florida, on August 27, 1960. A group of white men attacked African Americans who were engaging in sit-in[…]

Claudette Colvin: The Girl Who Acted Before Rosa Parks

Claudette was arrested at the age of 15, nine months before Rosa Parks refused to yield her seat. By Elissa Blattman Introduction Every American child learns about Rosa Parks in school. On December 1, 1955, she, a black woman, was arrested for refusing to give her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white[…]

Langston Hughes: Domestic Pariah, International Superstar

To foreigners, he was a fellow traveler who recognized the plight of the oppressed. Introduction A leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance, the inspiration behind Lorraine Hansberry’s play “A Raisin in the Sun” and an uncompromising voice for social justice, Langston Hughes is heralded as one of America’s greatest poets. It wasn’t always this way.[…]

A History of Voter Suppression since the Early Republic

The more that efforts to suppress voting rights in America change, the more they remain the same. From the earliest days of the republic to the present, politicians have sought to limit the ability of non-whites to vote. What has changed is the nature of suppression—either the addition of regulations, or the deregulation of parts[…]

The Story of Civil Rights Activist Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune founded a college, defied the Klan, advised presidents, and was a fierce warrior for justice. By Dovey Johnson Roundtree, J.D.Late Attorney and Acvitist Born in 1914, Dovey Johnson Roundtree was subject to the double barriers of institutionalized racism and sexism, but rose from poverty to become a distinguished champion of civil and[…]

Women’s Rights: Old Friends Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

In their last days, the suffragist pioneers looked back and left us their story in letters. “It is fifty-one years since we first met, and we have been busy through every one of them, stirring up the world to recognize the rights of women,” Susan B. Anthony wrote her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1902. The letter,[…]

The Cruel History of the ‘Reverse Freedom Rides’ and Their Long Aftermath

Lela Mae and the others were unwitting pawns in a segregationist game. Introduction After three days on a Greyhound bus, Lela Mae Williams was just an hour from her destination—Hyannis, Mass.—when she asked the bus driver to pull over. She needed to change into her finest clothes. She had been promised the Kennedy family would[…]

Lincoln’s Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus: An Historical and Constitutional Analysis

Habeas corpus can constitutionally be suspended – the question is by whom, Congress or the President? By James A. Duelholm, J.D. Introduction In the 143 years since the end of the Civil War, historians have examined Abraham Lincoln and his conduct of the war in great and at times excruciating depth. Lincoln’s power to suspend[…]

A Tale of Two Suffragists: Hazel Hunkins and Maud Wood Park

Thousands of women took different paths and pursued multiple strategies to win the goal of securing the right to vote. Two suffragists arrived in Washington, D.C. in late 1916, one from Billings, Montana and the other from Boston. Born twenty years apart, they spent the next three years in the nation’s capital working for the[…]

The First 45 Words: How the First Amendment Came to Be

“Congress shall make no law . . . ” The words are plain, blunt and unequivocal — without literary frill or poetic flourish — a directive intended to put the natural rights of citizens above and beyond the punitive power of the new federal government: “Congress shall make no law . . . ” Read[…]

How New York’s Union Square Helped Shape Free Speech in the U.S.

New York’s Union Square is an important site in American labor history. One scholar’s research illustrates the shifting meanings and inherent tensions of public space as an epicenter of civic life. Introduction Public space is an essential component of democratic cities. Modelled on the agora of ancient Greece, it is a marketplace for the exchange of goods[…]

The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Urban North

Exploring relationships between the Great Migration and the civil rights struggle in northern cities and, especially, Chicago from the 1920s through the 1960s. Introduction The history of civil rights in the twentieth-century United States is inseparable from the history of the Great Migration. From the end of World War I through the 1970s, extraordinary numbers[…]

Commemoration, Race, and World War II: History and Civil Rights at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site

History and civil rights are intertwined at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama. Introduction Moton Field was a training flight facility for African American pilot candidates in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, operating from 1941–45. Through the extant buildings and interpretive exhibits, the National Park[…]

Elegy and Effigy: The Struggle for Integration

The similarities between the effigies of James Meredith and the thousands of black bodies hanged and burned by southern lynch mobs over the years were intentional. An effigy dangled outside the second-story window of Vardaman Hall, a men’s dormitory on the University of Mississippi campus. Its head crooked from the rope tied around its neck,[…]

The Voices of Civil Rights

Photographs documenting pivotal events in the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Overview This exhibition draws from the individual accounts and oral histories collected by the Voices of Civil Rights project, a collaborative effort of AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the Library of Congress. The exhibition celebrates the donation[…]

James Byrd, Jr., John William King, and the History of American Lynching

We need a historical understanding of how lynching discourse continues to shape America’s enduring “dialogue on race.” In February, 1999, John William King – who was executed in Huntsville, Texas on April 24, 2019 –became the first white man in modern Texas history to be sentenced to death for killing a black person.  How that black person, James Byrd,[…]

Creating a Digital Museum to Memorialize America’s Slave Past

Art historian Renée Ater reflects on how pain and reconciliation coexist at the Contraband and Freedmen Cemetery Memorial in Virginia and other monuments to slavery. By Chelika Yapa Scholar James Young once posed this provocative question: How does a nation memorialize a past it might rather forget? Art historian Renée Ater is exploring this question[…]

Why Abolitionist Frederick Douglass Loved the Photograph

He considered it the most democratic of arts and a crucial aid in the quest to end slavery and achieve civil rights. Suddenly, it seems, the camera has become a potent weapon in what many see as the beginning of a new civil rights movement. It’s become a familiar tale: Increasingly, blacks won’t leave home[…]

Present Tense, Future Perfect: Protest and Progress at the 1964 World’s Fair

“Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us human creatures.” If every Negro in New York                                       cruised over the Fairin his fan-jet plane                    and ran out of fuel                                        the Worldwould really learn something about the affluent                                                                 society.The stink of the fire hydrant[…]