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African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)

African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968)

Encyclopedia

The African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the movements in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 aimed at outlawing racial discrimination
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 against African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

s and restoring voting rights
Suffrage
Suffrage, political franchise, or simply the franchise, distinct from mere voting rights, is the civil right to vote gained through the democratic process...

 to them. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1955 and 1968, particularly in the South. The emergence of the Black Power Movement
Black Power
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States...

, which lasted roughly from 1966 to 1975, enlarged the aims of the Civil Rights Movement to include racial dignity, economic
Economy of the United States
The economy of the United States is the world's largest national economy. Its nominal GDP was estimated to be nearly $14.5 trillion in 2010, approximately a quarter of nominal global GDP. The European Union has a larger collective economy, but is not a single nation...

 and political
Politics of the United States
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States , Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.The executive branch is headed by the President...

 self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency
Self-sufficiency refers to the state of not requiring any outside aid, support, or interaction, for survival; it is therefore a type of personal or collective autonomy...

, and freedom from oppression by white American
White American
White Americans are people of the United States who are considered or consider themselves White. The United States Census Bureau defines White people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa...

s.

The movement was characterized by major campaigns of civil resistance
Civil resistance
The term civil resistance, alongside the term nonviolent resistance, is used to describe political action that relies on the use of non-violent methods by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and...

. Between 1955 and 1968, acts of nonviolent
Nonviolence
Nonviolence has two meanings. It can refer, first, to a general philosophy of abstention from violence because of moral or religious principle It can refer to the behaviour of people using nonviolent action Nonviolence has two (closely related) meanings. (1) It can refer, first, to a general...

 protest and civil disobedience produced crisis situations between activists and government authorities. Federal, state, and local governments, businesses, and communities often had to respond immediately to these situations that highlighted the inequities faced by African Americans. Forms of protest and/or civil disobedience included boycott
Boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

s such as the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott
Montgomery Bus Boycott
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social protest campaign that started in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, USA, intended to oppose the city's policy of racial segregation on its public transit system. Many important figures in the civil rights movement were involved in the boycott,...

 (1955–1956) in Alabama; "sit-in
Sit-in
A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...

s" such as the influential Greensboro sit-ins
Greensboro sit-ins
The Greensboro sit-ins were a series of nonviolent protests which led to the Woolworth's department store chain reversing its policy of racial segregation in the Southern United States....

 (1960) in North Carolina; marches
Demonstration (people)
A demonstration or street protest is action by a mass group or collection of groups of people in favor of a political or other cause; it normally consists of walking in a mass march formation and either beginning with or meeting at a designated endpoint, or rally, to hear speakers.Actions such as...

, such as the Selma to Montgomery marches
Selma to Montgomery marches
The Selma to Montgomery marches were three marches in 1965 that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. They grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, Alabama, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League...

 (1965) in Alabama; and a wide range of other nonviolent activities.

Noted legislative achievements during this phase of the Civil Rights Movement were passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

, that banned discrimination based on "race, color, religion, or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that restored and protected voting rights; the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965
Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the National Origins Formula that had been in place in the United States since the Immigration Act of 1924...

, that dramatically opened entry to the U.S. to immigrants other than traditional European groups; and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, that banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing. African Americans re-entered politics in the South, and across the country young people were inspired to action.

Background


After the disputed election
United States presidential election, 1876
The United States presidential election of 1876 was one of the most disputed and controversial presidential elections in American history. Samuel J. Tilden of New York outpolled Ohio's Rutherford B. Hayes in the popular vote, and had 184 electoral votes to Hayes's 165, with 20 votes uncounted...

 of 1876 resulted in the end of Reconstruction, Whites in the South regained political control of the region, after mounting intimidation and violence in the elections. Systematic disfranchisement of African Americans took place in Southern states from 1890 to 1908 and lasted until national civil rights legislation was passed in the mid-1960s. For more than 60 years, for example, blacks in the South were not able to elect anyone to represent their interests in Congress or local government.

During this period, the white-dominated Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 regained political control over the South. The Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

—the "party of Lincoln"—which had been the party that most blacks belonged to, shrank to insignificance as black voter registration was suppressed. By the early 20th century, almost all elected officials in the South were Democrats.

During the same time as African Americans were being disfranchised, white Democrats imposed racial segregation
Racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, included the racial segregation or hypersegregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines...

 by law. Violence against blacks increased. The system of overt, state-sanctioned racial discrimination and oppression that emerged out of the post-Reconstruction South became known as the "Jim Crow
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

" system. It remained virtually intact into the early 1950s. Thus, the early 20th century is a period often referred to as the "nadir of American race relations
Nadir of American race relations
The "nadir of American race relations" is a term that refers to the period in United States history from the end of Reconstruction through the early 20th century, when racism in the country is deemed to have been worse than in any other period after the American Civil War. During this period,...

". While problems and civil rights violations were most intense in the South, social tensions affected African Americans in other regions as well.

Characteristics of the post-Reconstruction period:
  • Racial segregation
    Racial segregation
    Racial segregation is the separation of humans into racial groups in daily life. It may apply to activities such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home...

    . By law, public facilities and government services such as education were divided into separate "white" and "colored" domains. Characteristically, those for colored were underfunded and of inferior quality.

  • Disfranchisement. When white Democrats regained power, they passed laws that made voter registration more inaccessible to blacks. Black voters were forced off the voting rolls. The number of African American voters dropped dramatically, and they no longer were able to elect representatives. From 1890 to 1908, Southern states of the former Confederacy created constitutions with provisions that disfranchised tens of thousands of African Americans.
  • Exploitation
    Exploitation
    This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...

    . Increased economic oppression of blacks, Latinos, and Asians, denial of economic opportunities, and widespread employment discrimination.

  • Violence
    Violence
    Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is often the culmination of other kinds of conflict, e.g...

    . Individual, police, organizational, and mass racial violence against blacks
    Mass racial violence in the United States
    Mass racial violence, also called race riots can include such disparate events as:* attacks on Irish Catholics, the Chinese and other immigrants in the 19th century....

     (and Latinos in the Southwest and Asians in California).


African Americans and other racial minorities rejected this regime. They resisted it in numerous ways and sought better opportunities through lawsuits, new organizations, political redress, and labor organizing (see the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1896–1954)). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP, is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to...

 (NAACP) was founded in 1909. It fought to end race discrimination through litigation, education, and lobbying
Lobbying
Lobbying is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the government, most often legislators or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by various people or groups, from private-sector individuals or corporations, fellow legislators or government officials, or...

 efforts. Its crowning achievement was its legal victory in the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

(1954) that rejected separate white and colored school systems and by implication overturned the "separate but equal
Separate but equal
Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law that justified systems of segregation. Under this doctrine, services, facilities and public accommodations were allowed to be separated by race, on the condition that the quality of each group's public facilities was to...

" doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses , under the doctrine of "separate but equal".The decision was handed...

.

The situation for blacks outside the South was somewhat better (in most states they could vote and have their children educated, though they still faced discrimination in housing and jobs). From 1910 to 1970, African Americans sought better lives by migrating north and west. A total of nearly seven million blacks left the South in what was known as the Great Migration
Great Migration (African American)
The Great Migration was the movement of 6 million blacks out of the Southern United States to the Northeast, Midwest, and West from 1910 to 1970. Some historians differentiate between a Great Migration , numbering about 1.6 million migrants, and a Second Great Migration , in which 5 million or more...

.

Invigorated by the victory of Brown and frustrated by the lack of immediate practical effect, private citizens increasingly rejected gradualist, legalistic approaches as the primary tool to bring about desegregation
Desegregation
Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in...

. They were faced with "massive resistance
Massive resistance
Massive resistance was a policy declared by U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. on February 24, 1956, to unite other white politicians and leaders in Virginia in a campaign of new state laws and policies to prevent public school desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision...

" in the South by proponents of racial segregation and voter suppression
Disfranchisement
Disfranchisement is the revocation of the right of suffrage of a person or group of people, or rendering a person's vote less effective, or ineffective...

. In defiance, African Americans adopted a combined strategy of direct action
Direct action
Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. This can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action...

 with nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance
Nonviolent resistance is the practice of achieving goals through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, and other methods, without using violence. It is largely synonymous with civil resistance...

 known as civil disobedience
Civil disobedience
Civil disobedience is the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power. Civil disobedience is commonly, though not always, defined as being nonviolent resistance. It is one form of civil resistance...

, giving rise to the African-American Civil Rights Movement of 1955–1968.

Mass action replacing litigation


The strategy of public education, legislative lobbying, and litigation in the court system that typified the Civil Rights Movement in the first half of the 20th Century broadened after Brown to a strategy that emphasized "direct action"—primarily boycotts, sit-in
Sit-in
A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...

s, Freedom Rides, marches and similar tactics that relied on mass mobilization, nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience. This mass action approach typified the movement from 1960 to 1968.

Churches, the centers of their communities, local grassroots organizations, fraternal societies, and black-owned businesses, mobilized volunteers to participate in broad-based actions. This was a more direct and potentially more rapid means of creating change than the traditional approach of mounting court challenges.

In 1952, the Regional Council of Negro Leadership
Regional Council of Negro Leadership
The Regional Council of Negro Leadership was a society in Mississippi founded by T. R. M. Howard in 1951 to promote a program of civil rights, self-help, and business ownership...

 (RCNL), led by T. R. M. Howard
T. R. M. Howard
Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard was an American civil rights leader, fraternal organization leader, entrepreneur and surgeon...

, a black surgeon, entrepreneur, and planter, organized a successful boycott of gas stations in Mississippi that refused to provide restrooms for blacks. Through the RCNL, Howard led campaigns to expose brutality by the Mississippi state highway patrol and to encourage blacks to make deposits in the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Nashville which, in turn, gave loans to civil rights activists who were victims of a "credit squeeze" by the White Citizens' Councils.

The Montgomery Improvement Association
Montgomery Improvement Association
The Montgomery Improvement Association was formed on December 5, 1955 by black ministers and community leaders in Montgomery, Alabama. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr...

—created to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Montgomery Bus Boycott
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social protest campaign that started in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, USA, intended to oppose the city's policy of racial segregation on its public transit system. Many important figures in the civil rights movement were involved in the boycott,...

 managed to keep the boycott going for over a year until a federal court order required Montgomery to desegregate its buses. The success in Montgomery made its leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. a nationally known figure. It also inspired other bus boycotts, such as the highly successful Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee is the capital of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat and only incorporated municipality in Leon County, and is the 128th largest city in the United States. Tallahassee became the capital of Florida, then the Florida Territory, in 1824. In 2010, the population recorded by...

, boycott of 1956–1957.

In 1957 Dr. King and Rev. John Duffy
John A. Duffy
John Aloysius Duffy was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Syracuse from 1933 to 1937, and as Bishop of Buffalo from 1937 until his death.-Early life and ministry:...

, the leaders of the Montgomery Improvement Association, joined with other church leaders who had led similar boycott efforts, such as Rev. C. K. Steele of Tallahassee and Rev. T. J. Jemison
T. J. Jemison
Theodore Judson Jemison , better known as T. J. Jemison, is the former president of the National Baptist Convention, having served from 1982 to 1994. It is the largest African American religious organization...

 of Baton Rouge; and other activists such as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
Fred Shuttlesworth
Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, born Freddie Lee Robinson, was a U.S. civil rights activist who led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism as a minister in Birmingham, Alabama...

, Ella Baker
Ella Baker
Ella Josephine Baker was an African American civil rights and human rights activist beginning in the 1930s....

, A. Philip Randolph
A. Philip Randolph
Asa Philip Randolph was a leader in the African American civil-rights movement and the American labor movement. He organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly Negro labor union. In the early civil-rights movement, Randolph led the March on Washington...

, Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights.In the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation , Rustin practiced nonviolence...

 and Stanley Levison
Stanley Levison
Stanley David Levison was a Jewish businessman from New York, who had also attained a law degree from St. John's University. He was a life-long activist in progressive causes. He is best known as an advisor to, and close friend of the Rev...

, to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

. The SCLC, with its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, did not attempt to create a network of chapters as the NAACP did. It offered training and leadership assistance for local efforts to fight segregation. The headquarters organization raised funds, mostly from Northern sources, to support such campaigns. It made non-violence both its central tenet and its primary method of confronting racism.

In 1959, Septima Clarke
We Shall Overcome
"We Shall Overcome" is a protest song that became a key anthem of the African-American Civil Rights Movement . The title and structure of the song are derived from an early gospel song by African-American composer Charles Albert Tindley...

, Bernice Robinson, and Esau Jenkins
Esau Jenkins
Esau Jenkins was the founder/overseer of Haut Gap Middle School in Charleston County School District. This school once was a high school because back then Jim Crow laws was going on and that school were for African Americans in Johns Island, South Carolina...

, with the help of the Highlander Folk School
Highlander Research and Education Center
The Highlander Research and Education Center, formerly known as the Highlander Folk School, is a social justice leadership training school and cultural center located in New Market, Tennessee. Founded in 1932 by activist Myles Horton, educator Don West, and Methodist minister James A. Dombrowski,...

 in Tennessee, began the first Citizenship Schools in South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

's Sea Islands
Sea Islands
The Sea Islands are a chain of tidal and barrier islands on the Atlantic Ocean coast of the United States. They number over 100, and are located between the mouths of the Santee and St. Johns Rivers along the coast of the U.S...

. They taught literacy to enable blacks to pass voting tests. The program was an enormous success and tripled the number of black voters on Johns Island
Johns Island, South Carolina
Johns Island, also spelled John's Island, is the largest island in the U.S. State of South Carolina. It is one of the many Sea Islands along the coast of South Carolina.-Background:...

. SCLC took over the program and duplicated its results elsewhere.

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954



Spring 1951 was the year in which great turmoil was felt amongst Black students in reference to Virginia state's educational system. At the time in Prince Edward County, Moton High School
R.R. Moton High School
R. R. Moton High School was built in 1939 by Prince Edward County for Negro children, in the colonial-revival style common to school buildings in that era. It replaced several smaller one-room schools scattered around the County....

 was segregated and students had decided to take matters into their own hands to fight against two things: the overpopulated school premises and the unsuitable conditions in their school. This particular behavior coming from Black people in the South was most likely unexpected and inappropriate as White people had expectations for Blacks to act in a subordinate manner. Moreover, some local leaders of the NAACP had tried to persuade the students to back down from their protest against the Jim Crow laws of school segregation. When the students did not accept the NAACP's demands, the NAACP automatically joined them in their battle against school segregation. This became one of the five cases that made up what is known today as Brown v. Board of Education.

On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 handed down its decision
Judicial review
Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

 regarding the case called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which the plaintiffs charged that the education of black children in separate public schools from their white counterparts was unconstitutional
Constitutionality
Constitutionality is the condition of acting in accordance with an applicable constitution. Acts that are not in accordance with the rules laid down in the constitution are deemed to be ultra vires.-See also:*ultra vires*Company law*Constitutional law...

. The opinion of the Court stated that the "segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group."

The lawyers from the NAACP had to gather some plausible evidence in order to win the case of Brown vs. Education. Their way of addressing the issue of school segregation was to enumerate several arguments. One of them pertained to having an exposure to interracial contact in a school environment. It was said that it would, in turn, help to prevent children to live with the pressures that society exerts in regards to race. Therefore, having a better chance of living in democracy. In addition, another was in reference to the emphasis of how "'education’ comprehends the entire process of developing and training the mental, physical and moral powers and capabilities of human beings”. In Goluboff's book, it has been stated that the goals of the NAACP was to bring to the Court’s awareness the fact that African American children were the victims of the legalization of school segregation and were not guaranteed a bright future. Without having the opportunity to be exposed to other cultures, it impedes on how Black children will function later on as adults trying to live a normal life.

The Court ruled that both Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses , under the doctrine of "separate but equal".The decision was handed...

 (1896), which had established the segregationist, "separate but equal" standard in general, and Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education
Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education
Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education, 175 U.S. 528 was a class action suit decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. It is a landmark case, in that it sanctioned de jure segregation of races in American schools. The decision was overruled by Brown v...

 (1899), which had applied that standard to schools, were unconstitutional. The following year, in the case known as Brown v. Board of Education, the Court ordered segregation to be phased out over time, "with all deliberate speed". Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) did not overturn Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses , under the doctrine of "separate but equal".The decision was handed...

 (1896). Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 , is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses , under the doctrine of "separate but equal".The decision was handed...

 was segregation based on transportation. Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

 dealt with segregation in education. Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 , was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which...

 did set in motion the future overturning of 'separate but equal'.

On May 18, 1954 Greensboro became the first city in the South to publicly announce that it would abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling which declared racial segregation in the nation’s public schools unconstitutional. ‘It is unthinkable,’ remarked School Board Superintendent Benjamin Smith, ‘that we will try to [override] the laws of the United States.’ In agreement with Smith’s position, the school board voted six to one to support the court’s ruling. This positive reception for Brown, together with the appointment of African American Dr. David Jones to the school board in 1953, convinced numerous white and black citizens that Greensboro was heading in a forward direction and would likely emerge as a leader in school integration. Integration in Greensboro occurred rather peacefully compared to that of other Southern states such as Alabama, Arkansas, and Virginia where “massive resistance” took hold.

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955–1956


On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks (the "mother of the Civil Rights Movement") refused to give up her seat on a public bus to make room for a white passenger. She was secretary of the Montgomery NAACP chapter and had recently returned from a meeting at the Highlander Center
Highlander Research and Education Center
The Highlander Research and Education Center, formerly known as the Highlander Folk School, is a social justice leadership training school and cultural center located in New Market, Tennessee. Founded in 1932 by activist Myles Horton, educator Don West, and Methodist minister James A. Dombrowski,...

 in Tennessee where nonviolent civil disobedience as a strategy had been discussed. Parks was arrested, tried, and convicted for disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. After word of this incident reached the black community, 50 African-American leaders gathered and organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott to demand a more humane bus transportation system. However, after many reforms were rejected, the NAACP, led by E.D. Nixon, pushed for full desegregation of public buses. With the support of most of Montgomery's 50,000 African Americans, the boycott lasted for 381 days until the local ordinance segregating African-Americans and whites on public buses was lifted. Ninety percent of African Americans in Montgomery partook in the boycotts, which reduced bus revenue by 80% until a federal court ordered Montgomery's buses desegregated in November 1956, and the boycott ended.

A young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 was president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that directed the boycott. The protest made King a national figure. His eloquent appeals to Christian brotherhood and American idealism created a positive impression on people both inside and outside the South.

Desegregating Little Rock, 1957


Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 699,757 people in the 2010 census...

, was in a relatively progressive Southern state. A crisis erupted, however, when Governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus
Orval Faubus
Orval Eugene Faubus was the 36th Governor of Arkansas, serving from 1955 to 1967. He is best known for his 1957 stand against the desegregation of Little Rock public schools during the Little Rock Crisis, in which he defied a unanimous decision of the United States Supreme Court by ordering the...

 called out the National Guard on September 4 to prevent entry to the nine African-American students
Little Rock Nine
The Little Rock Nine was a group of African-American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The ensuing Little Rock Crisis, in which the students were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, and then...

 who had sued for the right to attend an integrated school, Little Rock Central High School. The nine students had been chosen to attend Central High because of their excellent grades. On the first day of school, only one of the nine students showed up because she did not receive the phone call about the danger of going to school. She was harassed by white protesters outside the school, and the police had to take her away in a patrol car to protect her. Afterward, the nine students had to carpool to school and be escorted by military personnel in jeep
Jeep
Jeep is an automobile marque of Chrysler . The first Willys Jeeps were produced in 1941 with the first civilian models in 1945, making it the oldest off-road vehicle and sport utility vehicle brand. It inspired a number of other light utility vehicles, such as the Land Rover which is the second...

s.

Faubus was not a proclaimed segregationist. The Arkansas Democratic Party, which then controlled politics in the state, put significant pressure on Faubus after he had indicated he would investigate bringing Arkansas into compliance with the Brown decision. Faubus then took his stand against integration and against the Federal court order that required it.

Faubus' order received the attention of President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

, who was determined to enforce the orders of the Federal courts. Critics had charged he was lukewarm, at best, on the goal of desegregation of public schools. Eisenhower federalized the National Guard and ordered them to return to their barracks. Eisenhower then deployed elements of the 101st Airborne Division
101st Airborne Division
The 101st Airborne Division—the "Screaming Eagles"—is a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France, Operation Market Garden, the...

 to Little Rock to protect the students.

The students were able to attend high school. They had to pass through a gauntlet of spitting, jeering whites to arrive at school on their first day, and to put up with harassment from fellow students for the rest of the year. Although federal troops escorted the students between classes, the students were still teased and even attacked by white students when the soldiers were not around. One of the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown
Minnijean Brown-Trickey
Minnijean Brown-Trickey was one of a group of African American teenagers known as the "Little Rock Nine." On September 25, 1957, under the gaze of 1,200 armed soldiers and a worldwide audience, Minnijean Brown-Trickey faced down an angry mob and helped to desegregate Central High.She was suspended...

, was suspended for spilling a bowl of chili on the head of a white student who was harassing her in the school lunch line. Later, she was expelled for verbally abusing a white female student.

Only one of the Little Rock Nine, Ernest Green
Ernest Green
Ernest Gideon Green was one of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who, in 1957, were the first black students ever to attend classes at Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Green was the first black to graduate from the school in 1958...

, got the chance to graduate; after the 1957–58 school year was over, the Little Rock school system decided to shut public schools completely rather than continue to integrate. Other school systems across the South followed suit.

Sit-ins, 1960


The Civil Rights Movement received an infusion of energy with a student sit-in at a Woolworth
F. W. Woolworth Company
The F. W. Woolworth Company was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores. The first successful Woolworth store was opened on July 18, 1879 by Frank Winfield Woolworth in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as "Woolworth's Great Five Cent Store"...

's store in Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina. It is the third-largest city by population in North Carolina and the largest city in Guilford County and the surrounding Piedmont Triad metropolitan region. According to the 2010 U.S...

. On February 1, 1960, four students Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University is a land-grant university located in Greensboro, North Carolina, United States. It is the largest publicly funded historically black college in the state of North Carolina.NC A&T is a constituent institution of the University of North...

, an all-black college, sat down at the segregated lunch counter to protest Woolworth's policy of excluding African Americans. The four students purchased small items in other parts of the store and kept their receipts, then sat down at the lunch counter and asked to be served. After being denied service, they produced their receipts and asked why their money was good everywhere else at the store, but not at the lunch counter. These protesters were encouraged to dress professionally, to sit quietly, and to occupy every other stool so that potential white sympathizers could join in. The sit-in soon inspired other sit-ins in Richmond, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

; Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville sit-ins
The Nashville sit-ins, which lasted from February 13 to May 10, 1960, were part of a nonviolent direct action campaign to end racial segregation at lunch counters in downtown Nashville, Tennessee...

; and Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

.

As students across the south began to "sit-in" at the lunch counters of a few of their local stores, local authority figures sometimes used brute force to physically escort the demonstrators from the lunch facilities.

The "sit-in" technique was not new—as far back as 1939, African-American attorney Samuel Wilbert Tucker
Samuel Wilbert Tucker
Samuel Wilbert Tucker was an American lawyer and a cooperating attorney with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People . As a founding partner in the Richmond, Virginia firm of Hill, Tucker and Marsh, he is best remembered for one of his several civil rights cases before the...

 organized a sit-in at the then-segregated Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city had a total population of 139,966. Located along the Western bank of the Potomac River, Alexandria is approximately six miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.Like the rest of northern Virginia, as well as...

 library. In 1960 the technique succeeded in bringing national attention to the movement. The success of the Greensboro sit-in led to a rash of student campaigns throughout the South. Probably the best organized, most highly disciplined, the most immediately effective of these was in Nashville, Tennessee.

On March 9, 1960 an Atlanta University Center
Atlanta University Center
The Atlanta University Center Consortium is the largest contiguous consortium of African Americans in higher education in the United States. The center consists of four historically black colleges and universities in southwest Atlanta, Georgia...

 group of students released An Appeal for Human Rights
An Appeal for Human Rights
This article seeks to provide history and context as well as links to the full text copies ofAn Appeal for Human Rights. release on March 15, 1960....

  as a full page advertisement in newspapers, including the Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Journal, and Atlanta Daily World.
This student group, known as the Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights
Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights
The Committee on the Appeal for Human Rights was formed by a group of Atlanta University Center students in February, 1960.This committee drafted and published An Appeal for Human Rights on March 9, 1960....

 (COAHR), initiated the Atlanta Student Movement
Atlanta Student Movement
The Atlanta Student Movement was formed between February and March 1960 in Atlanta by students of the campuses Atlanta University Center and led by the Committee for the Appeal for Human Rights and was part of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.- An Appeal for Human Rights :The original...

  and began to lead in Atlanta with sit-in
Sit-in
A sit-in or sit-down is a form of protest that involves occupying seats or sitting down on the floor of an establishment.-Process:In a sit-in, protesters remain until they are evicted, usually by force, or arrested, or until their requests have been met...

s starting on March 15, 1960.

By the end of 1960, the sit-ins had spread to every southern and border state and even to Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, and Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

.

Demonstrators focused not only on lunch counters but also on parks, beaches, libraries, theaters, museums, and other public places. Upon being arrested, student demonstrators made "jail-no-bail" pledges, to call attention to their cause and to reverse the cost of protest, thereby saddling their jailers with the financial burden of prison space and food.

In April, 1960 activists who had led these sit-ins held a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina that led to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ' was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960...

 (SNCC). SNCC took these tactics of nonviolent confrontation further, to the freedom rides.

Freedom Rides, 1961


Freedom Rides were journeys by Civil Rights activists on interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia
Boynton v. Virginia
Boynton v. Virginia, 364 U.S. 454 was a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. The case overturned a judgment convicting an African American law student for trespassing by being in a restaurant in a bus terminal which was "whites only." It held that racial segregation in public...

, (1960) 364 U.S. that ended segregation for passengers engaged in interstate travel. Organized by CORE
Congress of Racial Equality
The Congress of Racial Equality or CORE was a U.S. civil rights organization that originally played a pivotal role for African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement...

, the first Freedom Ride of the 1960s left Washington D.C. on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.

During the first and subsequent Freedom Rides, activists traveled through the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

 to integrate seating patterns and desegregate bus terminals, including restrooms and water fountains. That proved to be a dangerous mission. In Anniston, Alabama
Anniston, Alabama
Anniston is a city in Calhoun County in the state of Alabama, United States.As of the 2000 census, the population of the city is 24,276. According to the 2005 U.S. Census estimates, the city had a population of 23,741...

, one bus was firebombed, forcing its passengers to flee for their lives. In Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama. The city is the county seat of Jefferson County. According to the 2010 United States Census, Birmingham had a population of 212,237. The Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area, in estimate by the U.S...

, an FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

 informant reported that Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor gave Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 members fifteen minutes to attack an incoming group of freedom riders before having police "protect" them. The riders were severely beaten "until it looked like a bulldog had got a hold of them." James Peck
James Peck (pacifist)
James Peck was an American activist who practiced nonviolent resistance during World War II and in the Civil Rights movement...

, a white activist, was beaten so hard he required fifty stitches to his head.

Mob violence in Anniston and Birmingham temporarily halted the rides, but SNCC activists from Nashville brought in new riders to continue the journey from Birmingham. In Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama, and is the county seat of Montgomery County. It is located on the Alabama River southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2010 census, Montgomery had a population of 205,764 making it the second-largest city...

, at the Greyhound Bus Station
Greyhound Bus Station (Montgomery, Alabama)
The Greyhound Bus Station at 210 South Court Street in Montgomery, Alabama, was the site of a violent attack on participants in the 1961 Freedom Ride during the Civil Rights Movement...

, a mob charged another bus load of riders, knocking John Lewis unconscious with a crate and smashing Life
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....

photographer Don Urbrock in the face with his own camera. A dozen men surrounded Jim Zwerg, a white student from Fisk University
Fisk University
Fisk University is an historically black university founded in 1866 in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. The world-famous Fisk Jubilee Singers started as a group of students who performed to earn enough money to save the school at a critical time of financial shortages. They toured to raise funds to...

, and beat him in the face with a suitcase, knocking out his teeth.

On 24 May 1961, the freedom riders continued their rides into Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

, where they were arrested for "breaching the peace" by using "white only" facilities. New freedom rides were organized by many different organizations. As riders arrived in Jackson, they were arrested. By the end of summer, more than 300 had been jailed in Mississippi.

The jailed freedom riders were treated harshly, crammed into tiny, filthy cells and sporadically beaten. In Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

, some male prisoners were forced to do hard labor in 100-degree heat. Others were transferred to Mississippi State Penitentiary
Mississippi State Penitentiary
Mississippi State Penitentiary , also known as Parchman Farm, is the oldest prison and the only maximum security prison for men in the state of Mississippi, USA....

 at Parchman, where their food was deliberately oversalted and their mattresses were removed. Sometimes the men were suspended by "wrist breakers" from the walls. Typically, the windows of their cells were shut tight on hot days, making it hard for them to breathe.

Public sympathy and support for the freedom riders led the Kennedy administration to order the Interstate Commerce Commission
Interstate Commerce Commission
The Interstate Commerce Commission was a regulatory body in the United States created by the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. The agency's original purpose was to regulate railroads to ensure fair rates, to eliminate rate discrimination, and to regulate other aspects of common carriers, including...

 (ICC) to issue a new desegregation order. When the new ICC rule took effect on November 1, passengers were permitted to sit wherever they chose on the bus; "white" and "colored" signs came down in the terminals; separate drinking fountains, toilets, and waiting rooms were consolidated; and lunch counters began serving people regardless of skin color.

The student movement involved such celebrated figures as John Lewis, a single-minded activist; James Lawson, the revered "guru" of nonviolent theory and tactics; Diane Nash
Diane Nash
Diane Judith Nash was a leader and strategist of the student wing of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. A historian described her as: "…bright, focused, utterly fearless, with an unerring instinct for the correct tactical move at each increment of the crisis; as a leader, her instincts had been...

, an articulate and intrepid public champion of justice; Bob Moses
Robert Parris Moses
Robert Parris Moses is an American, Harvard-trained educator who was a leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and later founded the nationwide U.S. Algebra project.-Biography:...

, pioneer of voting registration in Mississippi; and James Bevel
James Bevel
James L. Bevel was an American minister and leader of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement who, as the Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference initiated, strategized, directed, and developed SCLC's three major successes of the era:...

, a fiery preacher and charismatic organizer and facilitator. Other prominent student activists included Charles McDew, Bernard Lafayette
Bernard Lafayette
Bernard Lafayette Jr. is a longtime civil rights activist and organizer, who was a leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement...

, Charles Jones, Lonnie King
Lonnie C. King, Jr.
Lonnie C. King, Jr. together with Atlanta University Center students, including Julian Bond, Herschelle Sullivan, Carolyn Long, Frank Smith, Joseph Pierce and others, authored An Appeal for Human Rights which was published March 9, 1960 as an advertisement in various Atlanta area newspapers.The...

, Julian Bond
Julian Bond
Horace Julian Bond , known as Julian Bond, is an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating...

, Hosea Williams
Hosea Williams
Hosea Lorenzo Williams was a United States civil rights leader, ordained minister, businessman, philanthropist, scientist and politician...

, and Stokely Carmichael
Stokely Carmichael
Kwame Ture , also known as Stokely Carmichael, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party...

.

Voter registration organizing


After the Freedom Rides, local black leaders in Mississippi such as Amzie Moore
Amzie Moore
Amzie Moore was an African American, civil rights leader, and entrepreneur in the Mississippi Delta.-Early life:Moore was born on the Wilkin plantation near the Grenada and Carroll County lines...

, Aaron Henry
Aaron Henry
Aaron Henry was an American civil rights leader, politician, and head of the Mississippi branch of the NAACP. He was one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which tried to seat their delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.-Early life:Henry was born in Dublin,...

, Medgar Evers
Medgar Evers
Medgar Wiley Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi...

, and others asked SNCC to help register black voters and to build community organizations that could win a share of political power in the state. Since Mississippi ratified its constitution in 1890, with provisions such as poll taxes, residency requirements, and literacy tests, it made registration more complicated and stripped blacks from the polls. After so many years, the intent to stop blacks from voting had become part of the culture of white supremacy. In the fall of 1961, SNCC organizer Robert Moses
Robert Parris Moses
Robert Parris Moses is an American, Harvard-trained educator who was a leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and later founded the nationwide U.S. Algebra project.-Biography:...

 began the first such project in McComb
McComb, Mississippi
McComb is a city in Pike County, Mississippi, United States, about south of Jackson. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 13,644. It is the principal city of the McComb, Mississippi, Micropolitan Statistical Area...

 and the surrounding counties in the Southwest corner of the state. Their efforts were met with violent repression from state and local lawmen, White Citizens' Council
White Citizens' Council
The White Citizens' Council was an American white supremacist organization formed on July 11, 1954. After 1956, it was known as the Citizens' Councils of America...

, and Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 resulting in beatings, hundreds of arrests and the murder of voting activist Herbert Lee.

White opposition to black voter registration was so intense in Mississippi that Freedom Movement activists concluded that all of the state's civil rights organizations had to unite in a coordinated effort to have any chance of success. In February 1962, representatives of SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP formed the Council of Federated Organizations
Council of Federated Organizations
The Council of Federated Organizations was formed in Mississippi in 1962.A coalition of the major Civil Rights Movement organizations operating in Mississippi, COFO was formed to coordinate and unite voter registration and other civil rights activities in the state and oversee the distribution of...

 (COFO). At a subsequent meeting in August, SCLC became part of COFO.

In the Spring of 1962, with funds from the Voter Education Project
Voter Education Project
From 1962 to 1968, the Voter Education Project raised and distributed foundation funds to civil rights organizations for voter education and registration work in the American South...

, SNCC/COFO began voter registration organizing in the Mississippi Delta area around Greenwood
Greenwood, Mississippi
Greenwood is a city in and the county seat of Leflore County, Mississippi, United States, located at the eastern edge of the Mississippi Delta approximately 96 miles north of Jackson, Mississippi, and 130 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. The population was 15,205 at the 2010 census. It is the...

, and the areas surrounding Hattiesburg
Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Hattiesburg is a city in Forrest County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 44,779 at the 2000 census . It is the county seat of Forrest County...

, Laurel
Laurel, Mississippi
Laurel is a city located in Jones County in Mississippi, a state of the United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 18,393 although a significant population increase has been reported following Hurricane Katrina. Located in southeast Mississippi, southeast of...

, and Holly Springs
Holly Springs, Mississippi
Holly Springs is a city in Marshall County, Mississippi, United States. The population was 7,957 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Marshall County. A short drive from Memphis, Tennessee, Holly Springs is the site of a number of well-preserved antebellum homes and other structures and...

. As in McComb, their efforts were met with fierce opposition—arrests, beatings, shootings, arson, and murder. Registrars used the literacy test
Literacy test
A literacy test, in the context of United States political history, refers to the government practice of testing the literacy of potential citizens at the federal level, and potential voters at the state level. The federal government first employed literacy tests as part of the immigration process...

 to keep blacks off the voting roles by creating standards that even highly educated people could not meet. In addition, employers fired blacks who tried to register and landlords evicted them from their homes. Over the following years, the black voter registration campaign spread across the state.

Similar voter registration campaigns—with similar responses—were begun by SNCC, CORE, and SCLC in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, southwest Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, and South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. By 1963, voter registration campaigns in the South were as integral to the Freedom Movement as desegregation efforts. After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

, protecting and facilitating voter registration despite state barriers became the main effort of the movement. It resulted in passage of the Voting Rights Act
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....

 of 1965.

Integration of Mississippi universities, 1956–1965




Beginning in 1956, Clyde Kennard
Clyde Kennard
Clyde Kennard was a Civil Rights pioneer and martyr, born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In the 1950s, he attempted several times to enroll at Mississippi Southern College to complete his undergraduate degree started at University of Chicago...

, a black Korean War-veteran, tried to enroll at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) under the GI Bill at Hattiesburg. Dr. William David McCain
William David McCain
William David McCain was a recognized leader of the Mississippi political establishment and a leader in its struggle in the 1950s and 1960s to maintain the segregated "southern way of life" against the forces of integration...

, the college president, tried to prevent his enrollment by appealing to local black leaders and the segregationist state political establishment. He used the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission
Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission
The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission was a state agency directed by the governor of Mississippi that existed from 1956 to 1977, also known as the Sov-Com...

, of which he was a member. It was a state-funded organization that tried to counter the civil rights movement by positively portraying segregationist policies. More significantly, it collected data on activists, harassed them legally, and used economic boycotts against them by threatening their jobs (or causing them to lose their jobs) to try to suppress their work.

Kennard was twice arrested on trumped-up charges, and eventually convicted and sentenced to seven years in the state prison. After three years at hard labor
Hard Labor
Hard Labor is the eleventh album by American rock band Three Dog Night, released in 1974 .- Cover Artwork :The original album cover, depicting of the birth of a record album , was deemed too controversial and was soon reworked with a huge bandage covering the "birth". The cover also includes an...

, Kennard was paroled by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett
Ross Barnett
Ross Robert Barnett was the governor of Mississippi from 1960 to 1964. He was a States' Rights Democrat.- Early life :...

. Journalists had investigated his case and publicized the state's mistreatment of his colon cancer.

McCain’s role in Kennard's arrests and convictions is unknown. While trying to prevent Kennard's enrollment, McCain made a speech in Chicago, with his travel sponsored by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. He described the blacks' seeking to desegregate Southern schools as "imports" from the North. (Kennard was a native and resident of Hattiesburg.)

"We insist that educationally and socially, we maintain a segregated society. ... In all fairness, I admit that we are not encouraging Negro voting," he said. "The Negroes prefer that control of the government remain in the white man's hands."
Note: Mississippi had passed a new constitution in 1890 that effectively disfranchised most blacks by changing electoral and voter registration requirements; although it deprived them of constitutional rights authorized under post-Civil War amendments, it survived US Supreme Court challenges at the time. It was not until after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S....

 that most blacks in Mississippi and other southern states gained federal protection to enforce their right to vote.

In September 1962, James Meredith
James Meredith
James H. Meredith is an American civil rights movement figure, a writer, and a political adviser. In 1962, he was the first African American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the American civil rights movement. Motivated by President...

 won a lawsuit to secure admission to the previously segregated University of Mississippi
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, is a public, coeducational research university located in Oxford, Mississippi. Founded in 1844, the school is composed of the main campus in Oxford, four branch campuses located in Booneville, Grenada, Tupelo, and Southaven as well as the...

. He attempted to enter campus on September 20, on September 25, and again on September 26. He was blocked by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett
Ross Barnett
Ross Robert Barnett was the governor of Mississippi from 1960 to 1964. He was a States' Rights Democrat.- Early life :...

, who said, "[N]o school will be integrated in Mississippi while I am your Governor." The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held Barnett and Lieutenant Governor Paul B. Johnson, Jr.
Paul B. Johnson, Jr.
Paul Burney Johnson, Jr. was a United States Democratic Mississippi politician and son of former Mississippi Governor Paul B. Johnson, Sr.....

 in contempt
Contempt of court
Contempt of court is a court order which, in the context of a court trial or hearing, declares a person or organization to have disobeyed or been disrespectful of the court's authority...

, with fines of more than $10,000 for each day they refused to allow Meredith to enroll.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent in a force of U.S. Marshals
United States Marshals Service
The United States Marshals Service is a United States federal law enforcement agency within the United States Department of Justice . The office of U.S. Marshal is the oldest federal law enforcement office in the United States; it was created by the Judiciary Act of 1789...

. On September 30, 1962, Meredith entered the campus under their escort. Students and other whites began rioting that evening, throwing rocks and then firing on the U.S. Marshals guarding Meredith at Lyceum Hall. Two people, including a French journalist, were killed; 28 marshals suffered gunshot wounds; and 160 others were injured. After the Mississippi Highway Patrol withdrew from the campus, President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 sent regular US Army forces to the campus to quell the riot. Meredith began classes the day after the troops arrived.

Kennard and other activists continued to work on public university desegregation. In 1965 Raylawni Branch
Raylawni Branch
Mrs. Raylawni Branch is a black Mississippi pioneer of the African-American Civil Rights Movement ,professional nursing educator and US Air Force Reserve officer...

 and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong
Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong
Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong was a black Mississippi pioneer in the African-American Civil Rights Movement . In September, 1965, she and Raylawni Branch, both local natives, integrated the University of Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg...

 became the first African-American students to attend the University of Southern Mississippi. By that time, McCain helped ensure they had a peaceful entry. In 2006, Judge Robert Helfrich ruled that Kennard was factually innocent of all charges for which he had been convicted in the 1950s.

Albany Movement, 1961–1962


The SCLC, which had been criticized by some student activists for its failure to participate more fully in the freedom rides, committed much of its prestige and resources to a desegregation campaign in Albany, Georgia
Albany, Georgia
Albany is a city in and the county seat of Dougherty County, Georgia, United States, in the southwestern part of the state. It is the principal city of the Albany, Georgia metropolitan area and the southwest part of the state. The population was 77,434 at the 2010 U.S. Census, making it the...

, in November 1961. King, who had been criticized personally by some SNCC activists for his distance from the dangers that local organizers faced—and given the derisive nickname "De Lawd" as a result—intervened personally to assist the campaign led by both SNCC organizers and local leaders.

The campaign was a failure because of the canny tactics of Laurie Pritchett, the local police chief, and divisions within the black community. The goals may not have been specific enough. Pritchett contained the marchers without violent attacks on demonstrators that inflamed national opinion. He also arranged for arrested demonstrators to be taken to jails in surrounding communities, allowing plenty of room to remain in his jail. Prichett also foresaw King's presence as a danger and forced his release to avoid King's rallying the black community. King left in 1962 without having achieved any dramatic victories. The local movement, however, continued the struggle, and it obtained significant gains in the next few years.

Birmingham Campaign, 1963–1964




The Albany movement was shown to be an important education for the SCLC, however, when it undertook the Birmingham campaign in 1963. Executive Director Wyatt Tee Walker
Wyatt Tee Walker
Wyatt Tee Walker is a United States black pastor, national civil rights leader, theologian, and cultural historian. He was a Chief of Staff for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in 1958 became an early board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference . He helped found the Congress for...

 carefully planned strategy and tactics for the campaign. It focused on one goal—the desegregation of Birmingham's downtown merchants, rather than total desegregation, as in Albany. The movement's efforts were helped by the brutal response of local authorities, in particular Eugene "Bull" Connor
Bull Connor
Theophilus Eugene "Bull" Connor was the Commissioner of Public Safety for the city of Birmingham, Alabama, during the American Civil Rights Movement...

, the Commissioner of Public Safety. He had long held much political power, but had lost a recent election for mayor to a less rabidly segregationist candidate. Refusing to accept the new mayor's authority, Connor intended to stay in office.

The campaign used a variety of nonviolent methods of confrontation, including sit-ins, kneel-ins at local churches, and a march to the county building to mark the beginning of a drive to register voters. The city, however, obtained an injunction
Injunction
An injunction is an equitable remedy in the form of a court order that requires a party to do or refrain from doing certain acts. A party that fails to comply with an injunction faces criminal or civil penalties and may have to pay damages or accept sanctions...

 barring all such protests. Convinced that the order was unconstitutional, the campaign defied it and prepared for mass arrest
Mass arrest
A mass arrest occurs when the police apprehend large numbers of suspects at once. This sometimes occurs at illegal protests. Some mass arrests are also used in an effort combat gang activity. This is sometimes controversial, and lawsuits sometimes result...

s of its supporters. King elected to be among those arrested on April 12, 1963.

While in jail, King wrote his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail
Letter from Birmingham Jail
The Letter from Birmingham Jail or Letter from Birmingham City Jail, also known as The Negro Is Your Brother, is an open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr., an American civil rights leader...

" on the margins of a newspaper, since he had not been allowed any writing paper while held in solitary confinement. Supporters appealed to the Kennedy administration, which intervened to obtain King's release. King was allowed to call his wife, who was recuperating at home after the birth of their fourth child, and was released early on April 19.

The campaign, however, was faltering because the movement was running out of demonstrators willing to risk arrest. James Bevel
James Bevel
James L. Bevel was an American minister and leader of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement who, as the Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference initiated, strategized, directed, and developed SCLC's three major successes of the era:...

, SCLC's Director of Direct Action and Nonviolent Education, came up with a bold and controversial alternative, to train high school students to take part in the demonstrations. As a result, more than one thousand students skipped school on May 2 to meet at the 16th Street Baptist Church to join the demonstrations, in what would come to be called the Children's Crusade
Children's Crusade (civil rights)
The Children's Crusade was the name bestowed upon a march by hundreds of school students in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 2, May 3, and May 4, 1963, during the American Civil Rights Movement's Birmingham Campaign. Initiated and organized by Rev. James Bevel, the purpose of the march was to walk...

. More than six hundred ended up in jail. This was newsworthy, but in this first encounter, the police acted with restraint. On the next day, however, another one thousand students gathered at the church. When they started marching, Bull Connor unleashed police dogs on them, then turned the city's fire hoses water streams on the children. Television cameras broadcast to the nation the scenes of water from fire hoses knocking down schoolchildren and dogs attacking individual demonstrators.

Widespread public outrage led the Kennedy administration to intervene more forcefully in negotiations between the white business community and the SCLC. On May 10, the parties announced an agreement to desegregate the lunch counters and other public accommodations downtown, to create a committee to eliminate discriminatory hiring practices, to arrange for the release of jailed protesters, and to establish regular means of communication between black and white leaders.

Not everyone in the black community approved of the agreement— the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth
Fred Shuttlesworth
Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, born Freddie Lee Robinson, was a U.S. civil rights activist who led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism as a minister in Birmingham, Alabama...

 was particularly critical, since he was skeptical about the good faith of Birmingham's power structure from his experience in dealing with them. Parts of the white community reacted violently. They bombed the Gaston Motel, which housed the SCLC's unofficial headquarters, and the home of King's brother, the Reverend A. D. King.

Kennedy prepared to federalize the Alabama National Guard
Alabama National Guard
The Alabama National Guard comprises both Army and Air components. The Guard is part of the Alabama Military Department, seemingly overseen by the Adjutant General of Alabama....

 if the need arose. Four months later, on September 15, a conspiracy of Ku Klux Klan members bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
16th Street Baptist Church bombing
The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S...

 in Birmingham, killing four young girls.

Other events of the summer of 1963:

On June 11, 1963, George Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

, Governor of Alabama, tried to block the integration of the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

. President John F. Kennedy sent a force to make Governor Wallace step aside, allowing the enrollment of two black students. That evening, President Kennedy addressed the nation on TV and radio with his historic civil rights speech. The next day, Medgar Evers was murdered in Mississippi. The next week, as promised, on June 19, 1963, President Kennedy submitted his Civil Rights bill to Congress.

March on Washington, 1963




A. Philip Randolph had planned a march on Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 in 1941 to support demands for elimination of employment discrimination
Employment discrimination
Employment discrimination is discrimination in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation. It includes various types of harassment....

 in defense industries; he called off the march when the Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 administration met the demand by issuing Executive Order 8802
Executive Order 8802
Executive Order 8802 was signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1941, to prohibit racial discrimination in the national defense industry...

 barring racial discrimination and creating an agency to oversee compliance with the order.

Randolph and Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin
Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights.In the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation , Rustin practiced nonviolence...

 were the chief planners of the second march, which they proposed in 1962. The Kennedy administration applied great pressure on Randolph and King to call it off but without success. The march was held on August 28, 1963.

Unlike the planned 1941 march, for which Randolph included only black-led organizations in the planning, the 1963 march was a collaborative effort of all of the major civil rights organizations, the more progressive wing of the labor movement, and other liberal organizations. The march had six official goals:
  • meaningful civil rights laws,
  • a massive federal works program,
  • full and fair employment,
  • decent housing,
  • the right to vote, and
  • adequate integrated education.

Of these, the march's major focus was on passage of the civil rights law that the Kennedy administration had proposed after the upheavals in Birmingham.

National media attention also greatly contributed to the march's national exposure and probable impact. In his section "The March on Washington and Television News," William Thomas notes: "Over five hundred cameramen, technicians, and correspondents from the major networks were set to cover the event. More cameras would be set up than had filmed the last presidential inauguration. One camera was positioned high in the Washington Monument, to give dramatic vistas of the marchers". By carrying the organizers' speeches and offering their own commentary, television stations literally framed the way their local audiences saw and understood the event.
The march was a success, although not without controversy. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream
I Have a Dream
"I Have a Dream" is a 17-minute public speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered on August 28, 1963, in which he called for racial equality and an end to discrimination...

" speech. While many speakers applauded the Kennedy administration for the efforts it had made toward obtaining new, more effective civil rights legislation protecting the right to vote and outlawing segregation, John Lewis of SNCC
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ' was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960...

 took the administration to task for not doing more to protect southern blacks and civil rights workers under attack in the Deep South.

After the march, King and other civil rights leaders met with President Kennedy at the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

. While the Kennedy administration appeared sincerely committed to passing the bill, it was not clear that it had the votes in Congress to do it. But when President Kennedy was assassinated
John F. Kennedy assassination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

 on November 22, 1963, the new President Lyndon Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 decided to use his influence in Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 to bring about much of Kennedy's legislative agenda.

St. Augustine, Florida, 1963–1964


St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

, on the northeast coast of Florida was famous as the "Nation's Oldest City," founded by the Spanish in 1565. It became the stage for a great drama leading up to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. A local movement, led by Dr. Robert B. Hayling, a black dentist and Air Force veteran, had been picketing segregated local institutions since 1963, as a result of which Dr. Hayling and three companions, James Jackson, Clyde Jenkins, and James Hauser, were brutally beaten at a Ku Klux Klan rally in the fall of that year. Nightriders shot into black homes, and teenagers Audrey Nell Edwards, JoeAnn Anderson, Samuel White, and Willie Carl Singleton (who came to be known as "The St. Augustine Four") spent six months in jail and reform school after sitting in at the local Woolworth's lunch counter. It took a special action of the governor and cabinet of Florida to release them after national protests by the Pittsburgh Courier
Pittsburgh Courier
The Pittsburgh Courier was an American newspaper published in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which was published from 1907 to 1965. Once the country's most widely circulated Black newspaper, the legacy and influence of the Pittsburgh Courier is unparalleled.A pillar of the Black Press, it rose...

, Jackie Robinson
Jackie Robinson
Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947...

, and others.

In 1964, Dr. Hayling and other activists urged the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 to come to St. Augustine. The first action came during spring break, when Hayling appealed to northern college students to come to the Ancient City, not to go to the beach, but to take part in demonstrations. Four prominent Massachusetts women—Mrs. Mary Parkman Peabody, Mrs. Esther Burgess, Mrs. Hester Campbell (all of whose husbands were Episcopal bishops), and Mrs. Florence Rowe (whose husband was vice president of John Hancock Insurance Company)came to lend their support, and the arrest of Mrs. Peabody, the 72 year old mother of the governor of Massachusetts, for attempting to eat at the segregated Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge in an integrated group, made front page news across the country, and brought the civil rights movement in St. Augustine to the attention of the world.

Widely publicized activities continued in the ensuing months, as Congress saw the longest filibuster against a civil rights bill in its history. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 was arrested at the Monson Motel in St. Augustine on June 11, 1964, the only place in Florida he was arrested. He sent a "Letter from the St. Augustine Jail" to a northern supporter, Rabbi Israel Dresner of New Jersey, urging him to recruit others to participate in the movement. This resulted, a week later, in the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history—while conducting a pray-in at the Monson.

A famous photograph taken in St. Augustine shows the manager of the Monson Motel pouring acid in the swimming pool while blacks and whites are swimming in it. The horrifying photograph was run on the front page of the Washington newspaper the day the senate went to vote on passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Mississippi Freedom Summer, 1964


In the summer of 1964, COFO
Council of Federated Organizations
The Council of Federated Organizations was formed in Mississippi in 1962.A coalition of the major Civil Rights Movement organizations operating in Mississippi, COFO was formed to coordinate and unite voter registration and other civil rights activities in the state and oversee the distribution of...

 brought nearly 1,000 activists to Mississippi—most of them white college students—to join with local black activists to register voters, teach in "Freedom Schools," and organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was an American political party created in the state of Mississippi in 1964, during the civil rights movement...

 (MFDP).

Many of Mississippi's white residents deeply resented the outsiders and attempts to change their society. State and local governments, police, the White Citizens' Council
White Citizens' Council
The White Citizens' Council was an American white supremacist organization formed on July 11, 1954. After 1956, it was known as the Citizens' Councils of America...

 and the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 used arrests, beatings, arson, murder, spying, firing, evictions, and other forms of intimidation and harassment to oppose the project and prevent blacks from registering to vote or achieving social equality.

On June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers disappeared. James Chaney
James Chaney
James Earl "J.E." Chaney , from Meridian, Mississippi, was one of three American civil rights workers who were murdered during Freedom Summer by members of the Ku Klux Klan near Philadelphia...

, a young black Mississippian and plasterer's apprentice; and two Jewish
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 activists, Andrew Goodman
Andrew Goodman
Andrew Goodman was one of three American civil rights activists murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan.-Early life and education:...

, a Queens College
Queens College, City University of New York
Queens College, located in Flushing, Queens, New York City, is one of the senior colleges of the City University of New York. It is also the fifth oldest of the City University's twenty-three institutions of higher learning. The college's seventy seven acre campus is located in the heart of the...

 anthropology student; and Michael Schwerner
Michael Schwerner
Michael Henry Schwerner , was one of three Congress of Racial Equality field workers killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan in response to their civil rights work, which included promoting voting registration among Mississippi African Americans...

, a CORE
Congress of Racial Equality
The Congress of Racial Equality or CORE was a U.S. civil rights organization that originally played a pivotal role for African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement...

 organizer from Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

's Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

, were found weeks later, murdered by conspirators who turned out to be local members of the Klan, some of them members of the Neshoba County
Neshoba County, Mississippi
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 28,684 people, 10,694 households, and 7,742 families residing in the county. The population density was 50 people per square mile . There were 11,980 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile...

 sheriff's department. This outraged the public, leading the U.S. Justice Department along with the FBI (the latter which had previously avoided dealing with the issue of segregation and persecution of blacks) to take action. The outrage over these murders helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. (See Mississippi civil rights workers murders for details).

From June to August, Freedom Summer activists worked in 38 local projects scattered across the state, with the largest number concentrated in the Mississippi Delta
Mississippi Delta
The Mississippi Delta is the distinctive northwest section of the U.S. state of Mississippi that lies between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. The region has been called "The Most Southern Place on Earth" because of its unique racial, cultural, and economic history...

 region. At least 30 Freedom Schools, with close to 3,500 students were established, and 28 community centers set up.

Over the course of the Summer Project, some 17,000 Mississippi blacks attempted to become registered voters in defiance of the red tape and forces of white supremacy
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

 arrayed against them—only 1,600 (less than 10%) succeeded. But more than 80,000 joined the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party
The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party was an American political party created in the state of Mississippi in 1964, during the civil rights movement...

 (MFDP), founded as an alternative political organization, showing their desire to vote and participate in politics.

Though Freedom Summer failed to register many voters, it had a significant effect on the course of the Civil Rights Movement. It helped break down the decades of people's isolation and repression that were the foundation of the Jim Crow
Jim Crow laws
The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans...

 system. Before Freedom Summer, the national news media had paid little attention to the persecution of black voters in the Deep South and the dangers endured by black civil rights workers. The progression of events throughout the South increased media attention to Mississippi. The deaths of affluent northern white students and threats to other northerners attracted the full attention of the media spotlight to the state. Many black activists became embittered, believing the media valued lives of whites and blacks differently. Perhaps the most significant effect of Freedom Summer was on the volunteers, almost all of whom—black and white—still consider it to have been one of the defining periods of their lives.

Civil Rights Act of 1964


Although President Kennedy had proposed civil rights legislation and it had support from Northern Congressmen, Southern Senators blocked consideration of the bill by threatening filibuster
Filibuster
A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure. Specifically, it is the right of an individual to extend debate, allowing a lone member to delay or entirely prevent a vote on a given proposal...

s. After considerable parliamentary maneuvering and 54 days of filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate, President Johnson got a bill through the Congress. On July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

, that banned discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations. The bill authorized the Attorney General to file lawsuits to enforce the new law. The law also nullified state and local laws that required such discrimination.

Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, 1964




Blacks in Mississippi had been disfranchised by statutory and constitutional changes since the late 19th century. In 1963 COFO held a Freedom Vote in Mississippi to demonstrate the desire of black Mississippians to vote. More than 80,000 people registered and voted in the mock election, which pitted an integrated slate of candidates from the "Freedom Party" against the official state Democratic Party candidates.

In 1964, organizers launched the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to challenge the all-white official party. When Mississippi voting registrars refused to recognize their candidates, they held their own primary. They selected Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting rights activist and civil rights leader....

, Annie Devine
Annie Bell Robinson Devine
Annie Bell Robinson Devine was an activist in the American Civil Rights Movement.From Canton, Mississippi, Devine began meeting with other blacks in Canton to discuss civil rights issues. She eventually quit her job selling insurance to work full-time for the Congress of Racial Equality...

, and Victoria Gray
Victoria Gray Adams
Victoria Jackson Gray Adams was an American civil rights activist from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She was one of the founding members of the influential Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.-Early life and education:...

 to run for Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

, and a slate of delegates to represent Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

The presence of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City is a city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, and a nationally renowned resort city for gambling, shopping and fine dining. The city also served as the inspiration for the American version of the board game Monopoly. Atlantic City is located on Absecon Island on the coast...

, was inconvenient, however, for the convention organizers. They had planned a triumphant celebration of the Johnson administration’s achievements in civil rights, rather than a fight over racism within the Democratic Party. All-white delegations from other Southern states threatened to walk out if the official slate from Mississippi was not seated. Johnson was worried about the inroads that Republican Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

’s campaign was making in what previously had been the white Democratic stronghold of the "Solid South", as well as support that George Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

 had received in the North during the Democratic primaries.

Johnson could not, however, prevent the MFDP from taking its case to the Credentials Committee. There Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer
Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting rights activist and civil rights leader....

 testified eloquently about the beatings that she and others endured and the threats they faced for trying to register to vote. Turning to the television cameras, Hamer asked, "Is this America?"

Johnson offered the MFDP a "compromise" under which it would receive two non-voting, at-large seats, while the white delegation sent by the official Democratic Party would retain its seats. The MFDP angrily rejected the "compromise."

The MFDP kept up its agitation at the convention, after it was denied official recognition. When all but three of the "regular" Mississippi delegates left because they refused to pledge allegiance to the party, the MFDP delegates borrowed passes from sympathetic delegates and took the seats vacated by the official Mississippi delegates. National party organizers removed them. When they returned the next day, they found convention organizers had removed the empty seats that had been there the day before. They stayed and sang "freedom songs".

The 1964 Democratic Party convention disillusioned many within the MFDP and the Civil Rights Movement, but it did not destroy the MFDP. The MFDP became more radical after Atlantic City. It invited Malcolm X
Malcolm X
Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...

, then a spokesman for the Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...

, to speak at one of its conventions and opposed the war in Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.

Dr. King Awarded Nobel Peace Prize


On December 10, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

, the youngest man to receive the award; he was 35 years of age.

Boycott of New Orleans by American Football League players, January 1965


After the 1964
1964 American Football League season
The 1964 American Football League season was the fifth regular season of the American Football League.The season ended when the Buffalo Bills defeated the San Diego Chargers in the AFL Championship game...

 professional American Football League
American Football League
The American Football League was a major American Professional Football league that operated from 1960 until 1969, when the established National Football League merged with it. The upstart AFL operated in direct competition with the more established NFL throughout its existence...

 season, the AFL All-Star Game had been scheduled for early 1965 in New Orleans' Tulane Stadium
Tulane Stadium
Tulane Stadium was an outdoor football stadium located in New Orleans, Louisiana from 1926 to 1980. Officially known as the Third Tulane Stadium, it replaced the "Second Tulane Stadium" where the Telephone Exchange Building is now located...

. After numerous black players were refused service by a number of New Orleans hotels and businesses, and white cabdrivers refused to carry black passengers, black and white players alike lobbied for a boycott of New Orleans. Under the leadership of Buffalo Bills
Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are a professional football team based in Buffalo, New York. They are currently members of the East Division of the American Football Conference in the National Football League...

' players, including Cookie Gilchrist
Cookie Gilchrist
Carlton Chester "Cookie" Gilchrist was a gridiron football player in the American Football League and Canadian Football League.-Career:...

, the players put up a unified front. The game was moved to Jeppesen Stadium
Robertson Stadium
John O'Quinn Field at Corbin J. Robertson Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in Houston, located on the campus of the University of Houston. It is the home of the Houston Cougars football and women's soccer teams...

 in Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

.

The discriminatory practices that prompted the boycott were illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against African Americans and women, including racial segregation...

, which had been signed in July 1964. This new law likely encouraged the AFL players in their cause. It was the first boycott
Boycott
A boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons...

 by a professional sports event of an entire city.

Selma and the Voting Rights Act, 1965


SNCC
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ' was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960...

 had undertaken an ambitious voter registration program in Selma, Alabama
Selma, Alabama
Selma is a city in and the county seat of Dallas County, Alabama, United States, located on the banks of the Alabama River. The population was 20,512 at the 2000 census....

, in 1963, but by 1965 had made little headway in the face of opposition from Selma's sheriff, Jim Clark. After local residents asked the SCLC
Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

 for assistance, King came to Selma to lead several marches, at which he was arrested along with 250 other demonstrators. The marchers continued to meet violent resistance from police. Jimmie Lee Jackson
Jimmie Lee Jackson
Jimmie Lee Jackson was a civil rights protestor who was shot and killed by Alabama State Trooper James Bonard Fowler in 1965. Jackson was unarmed. His death inspired the Selma to Montgomery marches, an important event in the American Civil Rights movement. He was 26 years old.-Personal...

, a resident of nearby Marion, was killed by police at a later march in February 17, 1965. Jackson's death prompted James Bevel
James Bevel
James L. Bevel was an American minister and leader of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement who, as the Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference initiated, strategized, directed, and developed SCLC's three major successes of the era:...

, director of the Selma Movement, to initiate a plan to march from Selma to Montgomery
Montgomery, Alabama
Montgomery is the capital of the U.S. state of Alabama, and is the county seat of Montgomery County. It is located on the Alabama River southeast of the center of the state, in the Gulf Coastal Plain. As of the 2010 census, Montgomery had a population of 205,764 making it the second-largest city...

, the state capital.

On March 7, 1965, acting on Bevel's plan, Hosea Williams
Hosea Williams
Hosea Lorenzo Williams was a United States civil rights leader, ordained minister, businessman, philanthropist, scientist and politician...

 of the SCLC and John Lewis of SNCC led a march of 600 people to walk the 54 miles (87 km) from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery. Only six blocks into the march, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge
Edmund Pettus Bridge
The Edmund Pettus Bridge is a bridge that carries U.S. Highway 80 across the Alabama River in Selma, Alabama. Built in 1940, it is named for Edmund Winston Pettus, a former Confederate brigadier general and U.S. Senator from Alabama. The bridge is a steel through arch bridge with a central span of...

, state troopers and local law enforcement, some mounted on horseback, attacked the peaceful demonstrators with billy clubs, tear gas, rubber tubes wrapped in barbed wire, and bull whips. They drove the marchers back into Selma. John Lewis was knocked unconscious and dragged to safety. At least 16 other marchers were hospitalized. Among those gassed and beaten was Amelia Boynton Robinson
Amelia Boynton Robinson
Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. A key figure in the 1965 march that became known as Bloody Sunday, she later became vice-president of the Schiller Institute affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche. She was awarded the Martin Luther King,...

, who was at the center of civil rights activity at the time.

The national broadcast of the news footage of lawmen attacking unresisting marchers' seeking the right to vote provoked a national response, as had scenes from Birmingham two years earlier. The marchers were able to obtain a court order permitting them to make the march without incident two weeks later.
After a second march on March 9 to the site of Bloody Sunday, local whites murdered another voting rights supporter, Rev. James Reeb
James Reeb
James Reeb was a white American Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, Massachusetts and pastor and civil rights activist in Washington, DC. While marching for civil rights in Selma, Alabama in 1965, he was beaten severely by segregationists and died of head injuries two days later in the...

. He died in a Birmingham hospital March 11. On March 25, four Klansmen shot and killed Detroit homemaker Viola Liuzzo
Viola Liuzzo
Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan, who was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama...

 as she drove marchers back to Selma at night after the successfully completed march to Montgomery.

Eight days after the first march, President Johnson delivered a televised address to support the voting rights bill he had sent to Congress. In it he stated:

Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 on August 6. The 1965 act suspended poll tax
Poll tax
A poll tax is a tax of a portioned, fixed amount per individual in accordance with the census . When a corvée is commuted for cash payment, in effect it becomes a poll tax...

es, literacy tests, and other subjective voter tests. It authorized Federal supervision of voter registration in states and individual voting districts where such tests were being used. African Americans who had been barred from registering to vote finally had an alternative to taking suits to local or state courts. If voting discrimination occurred, the 1965 act authorized the Attorney General of the United States to send Federal examiners to replace local registrars. Johnson reportedly told associates of his concern that signing the bill had lost the white South as voters for the Democratic Party for the foreseeable future.

The act had an immediate and positive impact for African Americans. Within months of its passage, 250,000 new black voters had been registered, one third of them by federal examiners. Within four years, voter registration in the South had more than doubled. In 1965, Mississippi had the highest black voter turnout at 74% and led the nation in the number of black public officials elected. In 1969, Tennessee had a 92.1% turnout; Arkansas, 77.9%; and Texas, 73.1%.

Several whites who had opposed the Voting Rights Act paid a quick price. In 1966 Sheriff Jim Clark
Jim Clark (sheriff)
James Gardner Clark, Jr. of Selma, Alabama, was the sheriff of Dallas County, Alabama from 1955 to 1966. He was one of the officials responsible for the violent arrests of civil rights protestors duringthe Selma to Montgomery marches.-Early life:Clark served with the U.S...

 of Alabama, infamous for using cattle prod
Cattle prod
A cattle prod, also called a stock prod, is a handheld device commonly used to make cattle or other livestock move by striking or poking them, or in the case of a Hot-Shot-type prod, through a relatively high-voltage, low-current electric shock...

s against civil rights marchers, was up for reelection. Although he took off the notorious "Never" pin on his uniform, he was defeated. At the election, Clark lost as blacks voted to get him out of office. Clark later served a prison term for drug dealing.

Blacks' regaining the power to vote changed the political landscape of the South. When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, only about 100 African Americans held elective office, all in northern states of the U.S. By 1989, there were more than 7,200 African Americans in office, including more than 4,800 in the South. Nearly every Black Belt
Black Belt (U.S. region)
The Black Belt is a region of the Southern United States. Although the term originally described the prairies and dark soil of central Alabama and northeast Mississippi, it has long been used to describe a broad agricultural region in the American South characterized by a history of plantation...

 county (where populations were majority black) in Alabama had a black sheriff. Southern blacks held top positions in city, county, and state governments.

Atlanta elected a black mayor, Andrew Young
Andrew Young
Andrew Jackson Young is an American politician, diplomat, activist and pastor from Georgia. He has served as Mayor of Atlanta, a Congressman from the 5th district, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations...

, as did Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

, with Harvey Johnson, Jr.
Harvey Johnson, Jr.
Harvey Johnson, Jr. , is the current mayor and first African American mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.-Biography:Harvey Johnson, Jr. was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and attended the Vicksburg Public Schools, graduating from Rosa A. Temple High School...

, and New Orleans, with Ernest Morial
Ernest Nathan Morial
Ernest Nathan Morial was a U.S. political figure and a leading civil rights advocate. He was the first black mayor of New Orleans, serving from 1978 to 1986. He was the father of former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial.-Early life and career:Morial was born in New Orleans of Creole ancestry and grew...

. Black politicians on the national level included Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan
Barbara Charline Jordan was an American politician who was both a product and a leader, of the Civil Rights movement. She was the first African American elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black female elected to the United States House of Representatives...

, who represented Texas in Congress, and Andrew Young was appointed United States Ambassador to the United Nations
United States Ambassador to the United Nations
The United States Ambassador to the United Nations is the leader of the U.S. delegation, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The position is more formally known as the "Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador...

 during the Carter administration
Presidency of Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter served as the thirty-ninth President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. His administration sought to make the government "competent and compassionate" but, in the midst of an economic crisis produced by rising energy prices and stagflation, met with difficulty in achieving its...

. Julian Bond
Julian Bond
Horace Julian Bond , known as Julian Bond, is an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating...

 was elected to the Georgia State Legislature
Georgia General Assembly
The Georgia General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is bicameral, being composed of the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Senate....

 in 1965, although political reaction to his public Opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War prevented him from taking his seat until 1967. John Lewis represents Georgia's 5th congressional district
Georgia's 5th congressional district
Georgia's 5th congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Georgia. Based in central Fulton and parts of Dekalb and Clayton counties, the heavily African American district includes the state capital and largest city of Atlanta as well as many of the surrounding suburbs...

 in the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, where he has served since 1987.

Memphis, King assassination and the Poor People's March, 1968


Rev. James Lawson invited King to Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

, in March 1968 to support a strike by sanitation
Waste collection
Waste collection is the component of waste management which results in the passage of a waste material from the source of production to either the point of treatment or final disposal...

 workers. They had launched a campaign for union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 representation after two workers were accidentally killed on the job.

A day after delivering his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop
I've Been to the Mountaintop
"I've Been to the Mountaintop" is the popular name of the last speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr.King spoke on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. The next day, King was assassinated....

" sermon, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Riots broke out in more than 110 cities across the United States in the days that followed, notably in Chicago, Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, and in Washington, D.C.
1968 Washington, D.C. riots
Five days of race riots erupted in Washington, D.C. following the April 4, 1968 assassination of Civil Rights Movement-leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil unrest affected at least 110 U.S...

 The damage done in many cities destroyed black businesses.

The day before King's funeral, April 8, Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, and civil rights leader. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.Mrs...

 and three of the King children led 20,000 marchers through the streets of Memphis, holding signs that read, "Honor King: End Racism" and "Union Justice Now". National Guardsmen lined the streets, perched on M-48 tanks, bayonets mounted, with helicopters circling overhead. On April 9 Mrs. King led another 150,000 in a funeral procession through the streets of Atlanta. Her dignity revived courage and hope in many of the Movement's members, cementing her place as the new leader in the struggle for racial equality.

Coretta King famously remarked,
Rev. Ralph Abernathy succeeded King as the head of the SCLC and attempted to carry forth King's plan for a Poor People's March. It was to unite blacks and whites to campaign for fundamental changes in American society and economic structure. The march went forward under Abernathy's plainspoken leadership but did not achieve its goals.

Avoiding the "Communist" label


On 17 December 1951, the Communist Party
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

–affiliated Civil Rights Congress
Civil Rights Congress
The Civil Rights Congress was a civil rights organization formed in 1946 by a merger of the International Labor Defense and the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties. It became known for involvement in civil rights cases such as the Trenton Six and justice for Isaiah Nixon. The CRC...

 delivered the petition We Charge Genocide
We Charge Genocide
"We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People", often shorted to "We Charge Genocide", was a petition presented to the United Nations in 1951, arguing that the U.S...

: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People"
, often shortened to We Charge Genocide, to the United Nations in 1951, arguing that the U.S. federal government, by its failure to act against lynching in the United States
Lynching in the United States
Lynching, the practice of killing people by extrajudicial mob action, occurred in the United States chiefly from the late 18th century through the 1960s. Lynchings took place most frequently in the South from 1890 to the 1920s, with a peak in the annual toll in 1892.It is associated with...

, was guilty of genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 under Article II of the UN Genocide Convention
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948 as General Assembly Resolution 260. The Convention entered into force on 12 January 1951. It defines genocide in legal terms, and is the culmination of...

. The petition was presented to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 at two separate venues: Paul Robeson
Paul Robeson
Paul Leroy Robeson was an American concert singer , recording artist, actor, athlete, scholar who was an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement in the first half of the twentieth century...

, concert singer and activist, to a UN official in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, while William L. Patterson
William L. Patterson
William L. Patterson was a leader in the Communist Party USA and head of the International Labor Defense, a group that offered legal representation to communists, trade unionists, and African-Americans in cases involving issues of political or racial persecution...

, executive director of the CRC, delivered copies of the drafted petition to a UN delegation in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

. Patterson, the editor of the petition, was a leader in the Communist Party USA and head of the International Labor Defense, a group that offered legal representation to communists, trade unionists, and African-Americans in cases involving issues of political or racial persecution. As earlier Civil Rights figures like Robeson, Dubois and Patterson became more politically radical (and therefore targets of Cold War anti-Communism by the US. Government) they lost favor with both mainstream Black America and the NAACP. In order to secure a place in the mainstream and gain the broadest base, it was a matter of survival for the new generation of civil rights activists to openly distance themselves from anything and anyone Communist associated. Even with this distinction however, many civil rights leaders and organizations were still investigated by the FBI under J Edgar Hoover and labeled "Communist" or "subversive." In the early 1960s, the practice of distancing the Civil Rights Movement from "Reds" was challenged by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ' was one of the principal organizations of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. It emerged from a series of student meetings led by Ella Baker held at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina in April 1960...

 who adopted a policy of accepting assistance and participation by anyone, regardless of political affiliation, who supported the SNCC program and was willing to "put their body on the line." At times this political openness put SNCC at odds with the NAACP.

Kennedy administration, 1961–1963


During the years preceding his election to the presidency, John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

's record of voting on issues of racial discrimination had been scant. Kennedy openly confessed to his closest advisors that during the first months of his presidency, his knowledge of the civil rights movement was "lacking".

For the first two years of the Kennedy administration, attitudes to both the president and attorney general
Attorney General
In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general, or attorney-general, is the main legal advisor to the government, and in some jurisdictions he or she may also have executive responsibility for law enforcement or responsibility for public prosecutions.The term is used to refer to any person...

, Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

, were mixed. Many viewed the administration with suspicion. A well of historical cynicism toward white liberal politics had left a sense of uneasy disdain by African-Americans toward any white politician who claimed to share their concerns for freedom. Still, many had a strong sense that in the Kennedys there was a new age of political dialogue beginning.

Although observers frequently assert the phrase "The Kennedy administration" or even, "President Kennedy" when discussing the legislative and executive support of the Civil Rights movement, between 1960 and 1963, many of the initiatives were the result of Robert Kennedy's passion. Through his rapid education in the realities of racism, Robert Kennedy underwent a thorough conversion of purpose as Attorney-General. Asked in an interview in May 1962, "What do you see as the big problem ahead for you, is it Crime or Internal Security?" Robert Kennedy replied, "Civil Rights." The President came to share his brother's sense of urgency on the matters to such an extent that it was at the Attorney-General's insistence that he made his famous address to the nation.

When a white mob attacked and burned the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where King held out with protesters, the Attorney-General telephoned King to ask him not to leave the building until the U.S. Marshals and National Guard could secure the area. King proceeded to berate Kennedy for "allowing the situation to continue". King later publicly thanked Robert Kennedy's commanding the force to break up an attack, which might otherwise have ended King's life.

The relationship between the two men underwent change from mutual suspicion to one of shared aspirations. For Dr King, Robert Kennedy initially represented the 'softly softly' approach that in former years had disabled the movement of blacks against oppression in the U.S. For Robert Kennedy, King initially represented what he then considered an unrealistic militancy. Some white liberals regarded the militancy itself as the cause of so little governmental progress.

King initially regarded much of the efforts of the Kennedys as an attempt to control the movement and siphon off its energies. Yet he came to find the efforts of the brothers to be crucial. It was at Robert Kennedy's constant insistence, through conversations with King and others, that King came to recognize the fundamental nature of electoral reform and suffrage—the need for black Americans to actively engage not only protest but political dialogue at the highest levels. In time the president gained King's respect and trust, via the frank dialogue and efforts of the Attorney-General. Robert Kennedy became very much his brother's key advisor on matters of racial equality. The president regarded the issue of civil rights to be a function of the Attorney-General's office.

With a very small majority in Congress, the president's ability to press ahead with legislation relied considerably on a balancing game with the Senators and Congressmen of the South. Indeed, without the support of Vice-President Lyndon Johnson, who had years of experience in Congress and longstanding relations there, many of the Attorney-General's programs would not have progressed.

By late 1962, frustration at the slow pace of political change was balanced by the movement's strong support for legislative initiatives: housing rights, administrative representation across all US Government departments, safe conditions at the ballot box, pressure on the courts to prosecute racist criminals. King remarked by the end of the year, "This administration has reached out more creatively than its predecessors to blaze new trails, [notably in voting rights and government appointments]. Its vigorous young men [had launched] imaginative and bold forays [and displayed] a certain élan in the attention they give to civil-rights issues."

From squaring off against Governor George Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

, to "tearing into" Vice-President Johnson (for failing to desegregate areas of the administration), to threatening corrupt white Southern judges with disbarment, to desegregating interstate transport, Robert Kennedy came to be consumed by the Civil Rights movement and later carried it forward into his own bid for the presidency in 1968. On the night of Governor Wallace's capitulation, President Kennedy gave an address to the nation, which marked the changing tide, an address that was to become a landmark for the ensuing change in political policy. In it President Kennedy spoke of the need to act decisively and to act now:

.

Assassination cut short the life and careers of both the Kennedy brothers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The essential groundwork of the Civil Rights Act 1964 had been initiated before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The dire need for political and administrative reform had been driven home on Capitol Hill by the combined efforts of the Kennedy brothers, Dr. King (and other leaders) and President Lyndon Johnson.

In 1966, Robert Kennedy undertook a tour of South Africa in which he championed the cause of the anti-apartheid movement. His tour gained international praise at a time when few politicians dared to entangle themselves in the politics of South Africa. Kennedy spoke out against the oppression of the native population. He was welcomed by the black population as though a visiting head of state. In an interview with LOOK Magazine he said:

American Jewish community and the Civil Rights movement


Many in the Jewish
American Jews
American Jews, also known as Jewish Americans, are American citizens of the Jewish faith or Jewish ethnicity. The Jewish community in the United States is composed predominantly of Ashkenazi Jews who emigrated from Central and Eastern Europe, and their U.S.-born descendants...

 community supported the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, statistically Jews were one of the most actively involved non-black groups in the Movement. Many Jewish students worked in concert with African Americans for CORE, SCLC, and SNCC as full-time organizers and summer volunteers during the Civil Rights era. Jews made up roughly half of the white northern volunteers involved in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer
Freedom Summer was a campaign in the United States launched in June 1964 to attempt to register as many African American voters as possible in Mississippi which had historically excluded most blacks from voting...

 project and approximately half of the civil rights attorneys active in the South during the 1960s.

Jewish leaders were arrested while heeding a call from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

, in June 1964, where the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history took place at the Monson Motor Lodge—a nationally important civil rights landmark that was demolished in 2003 so that a Hilton Hotel could be built on the site. Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.-Biography:...

, a writer, rabbi and professor of theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
The Jewish Theological Seminary of America is one of the academic and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism, and a major center for academic scholarship in Jewish studies.JTS operates five schools: Albert A...

 in New York was outspoken on the subject of civil rights. He marched arm-in-arm with Dr. King in the 1965 March on Selma. In the Mississippi Burning
Mississippi Burning
Mississippi Burning is a 1988 American crime drama film loosely based on the FBI investigation into the real-life murders of three civil rights workers in the U.S. state of Mississippi in 1964. The film focuses on two fictional FBI agents who investigate the murders...

 murders of 1964, the two white activists killed, Andrew Goodman
Andrew Goodman
Andrew Goodman was one of three American civil rights activists murdered near Philadelphia, Mississippi, during Freedom Summer in 1964 by members of the Ku Klux Klan.-Early life and education:...

 and Michael Schwerner
Michael Schwerner
Michael Henry Schwerner , was one of three Congress of Racial Equality field workers killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi, by the Ku Klux Klan in response to their civil rights work, which included promoting voting registration among Mississippi African Americans...

, were both Jewish.

Brandeis University
Brandeis University
Brandeis University is an American private research university with a liberal arts focus. It is located in the southwestern corner of Waltham, Massachusetts, nine miles west of Boston. The University has an enrollment of approximately 3,200 undergraduate and 2,100 graduate students. In 2011, it...

, the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college university in the world, created the Transitional Year Program (TYP)in 1968, in part response to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. The faculty created it to renew the University's commitment to social justice. Recognizing Brandeis as a university with a commitment to academic excellence, these faculty members created a chance to disadvantaged students to participate in an empowering educational experience.

The program began by admitting 20 black males. As it developed, two groups have been given chances. The first group consists of students whose secondary schooling experiences and/or home communities may have lacked the resources to foster adequate preparation for success at elite colleges like Brandeis. For example, their high schools do not offer AP or honors courses nor high quality laboratory experiences. Students selected had to have excelled in the curricula offered by their schools. The second group of students includes those whose life circumstances have created formidable challenges that required focus, energy, and skills that otherwise would have been devoted to academic pursuits. Some have served as heads of their households, others have worked full-time while attending high school full-time, and others have shown leadership in other ways.

The American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Committee
The American Jewish Committee was "founded in 1906 with the aim of rallying all sections of American Jewry to defend the rights of Jews all over the world...

, American Jewish Congress
American Jewish Congress
The American Jewish Congress describes itself as an association of Jewish Americans organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad through public policy advocacy, using diplomacy, legislation, and the courts....

, and Anti-Defamation League
Anti-Defamation League
The Anti-Defamation League is an international non-governmental organization based in the United States. Describing itself as "the nation's premier civil rights/human relations agency", the ADL states that it "fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects...

 actively promoted civil rights.

While Jews were very active in the civil rights movement in the South, in the North, many had experienced a more strained relationship with African Americans. In communities experiencing white flight, racial rioting, and urban decay, Jewish Americans were more often the last remaining whites in the communities most affected. With Black militancy and the Black Power
Black Power
Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies. It is used in the movement among people of Black African descent throughout the world, though primarily by African Americans in the United States...

 movements on the rise, Black Anti-Semitism increased leading to strained relations between Blacks and Jews in Northern communities. In New York City, most notably, there was a major socio-economic class difference in the perception of African Americans by Jews. Jews from better educated Upper Middle Class backgrounds were often very supportive of African American civil rights activities while the Jews in poorer urban communities that became increasingly minority were often less supportive largely in part due to more negative and violent interactions between the two groups.

Fraying of alliances


King reached the height of popular acclaim during his life in 1964, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel.-Background:According to Nobel's will, the Peace Prize shall be awarded to the person who...

. His career after that point was filled with frustrating challenges. The liberal coalition that had gained passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 began to fray.

King was becoming more estranged from the Johnson administration. In 1965 he broke with it by calling for peace negotiations and a halt to the bombing of Vietnam. He moved further left in the following years, speaking of the need for economic justice and thoroughgoing changes in American society. He believed change was needed beyond the civil rights gained by the movement.

King's attempts to broaden the scope of the Civil Rights Movement were halting and largely unsuccessful, however. King made several efforts in 1965 to take the Movement north to address issues of employment and housing discrimination. SCLC's campaign in Chicago publicly failed, as Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley
Richard J. Daley
Richard Joseph Daley served for 21 years as the mayor and undisputed Democratic boss of Chicago and is considered by historians to be the "last of the big city bosses." He played a major role in the history of the Democratic Party, especially with his support of John F...

 marginalized SCLC's campaign by promising to "study" the city's problems. In 1966, white demonstrators holding "white power" signs in notoriously racist Cicero
Cicero, Illinois
Cicero is an incorporated town in Cook County, Illinois, United States. The population was 83,891 at the 2010 census. Cicero is named for the town of Cicero, New York, which in turn was named for Marcus Tullius Cicero, the Roman statesman and orator....

, a suburb of Chicago, threw stones at marchers demonstrating against housing segregation
Housing Segregation
Housing Segregation is the practice of denying African American or other minority groups equal access to housing through the process of misinformation, denial of realty and financing services, and racial steering. Misinformation can take the form of realtors or landlords not giving African American...

.

Race riots, 1963–1970


By the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, more than half of the country's black population lived in Northern and Western industrial cities rather than Southern rural areas. Migrating to those cities for better job opportunities, education and to escape legal segregation, African Americans often found segregation that existed in fact rather than in law.

While after the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan
Ku Klux Klan, often abbreviated KKK and informally known as the Klan, is the name of three distinct past and present far-right organizations in the United States, which have advocated extremist reactionary currents such as white supremacy, white nationalism, and anti-immigration, historically...

 was not prevalent, by the 1960s other problems prevailed in northern cities. Beginning in the 1950s, deindustrialization
Deindustrialization
Deindustrialization is a process of social and economic change caused by the removal or reduction of industrial capacity or activity in a country or region, especially heavy industry or manufacturing industry. It is an opposite of industrialization.- Multiple interpretations :There are multiple...

 and restructuring of major industries: railroads and meatpacking, steel industry and car industry, markedly reduced working-class jobs, which had earlier provided middle-class incomes. As the last population to enter the industrial job market, blacks were disadvantaged by its collapse. At the same time, investment in highways and private development of suburbs in the postwar years had drawn many ethnic whites out of the cities to newer housing in expanding suburbs. Urban blacks who did not follow the middle class out of the cities became concentrated in the older housing of inner-city neighborhoods, among the poorest in most major cities.

Because jobs in new service areas and parts of the economy were being created in suburbs, unemployment was much higher in many black than in white neighborhoods, and crime was frequent. African Americans rarely owned the stores or businesses where they lived. Many were limited to menial or blue-collar jobs, although union organizing in the 1930s and 1940s had opened up good working environments for some. African Americans often made only enough money to live in dilapidated tenements that were privately owned, or poorly maintained public housing. They also attended schools that were often the worst academically in the city and that had fewer white students than in the decades before WWII.

The racial makeup of most major city police departments, largely ethnic white (especially Irish), was a major factor in adding to racial tensions. Even a black neighborhoods such as Harlem had a ratio of one black officer for every six white officers. The majority-black city of Newark, New Jersey
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

 had only 145 blacks among its 1322 police officers. Police forces in Northern cities were largely composed of white ethnics, descendants of 19th-century immigrants: mainly Irish, Italian, and Eastern European officers. They had established their own power bases in the police departments and in territories in cities. Some would routinely harass blacks with or without provocation.

One of the first major race riots took place in Harlem
Harlem
Harlem is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, which since the 1920s has been a major African-American residential, cultural and business center. Originally a Dutch village, formally organized in 1658, it is named after the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands...

, New York, in the summer of 1964. A white Irish-American police officer, Thomas Gilligan, shot 15-year-old James Powell, who was black, for allegedly charging him armed with a knife. It was found that Powell was unarmed. A group of black citizens demanded Gilligan's suspension. Hundreds of young demonstrators marched peacefully to the 67th Street police station on July 17, 1964, the day after Powell's death. The police department did not suspend Gilligan. Although the precinct had promoted the NYPD's first black station commander, neighborhood residents were frustrated with racial inequalities. They looted and burned anything that was not black-owned in the neighborhood. Bedford-Stuyvesant, a major black neighborhood in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 erupted next. That summer, rioting also broke out in Philadelphia, for similar reasons.

In the aftermath of the riots of July 1964, the federal government funded a pilot program called Project Uplift
Project Uplift
Project Uplift was a major short-term program of the Great Society. It was an experimental anti-poverty program in Harlem, New York in the summer of 1965, intended to prevent the recurrence of the riots that hit the community the summer before...

. Thousands of young people in Harlem were given jobs during the summer of 1965. The project was inspired by a report generated by HARYOU
Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited
Harlem Youth Opportunities Unlimited, more commonly called HARYOU, was a social activism organization founded by Dr. Kenneth Clark in 1962 and directed by Cyril DeGrasse Tyson . The group worked to increase opportunities in education and employment for young blacks in Harlem...

 called Youth in the Ghetto. HARYOU was given a major role in organizing the project, together with the National Urban League
National Urban League
The National Urban League , formerly known as the National League on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, is a nonpartisan civil rights organization based in New York City that advocates on behalf of African Americans and against racial discrimination in the United States. It is the oldest and largest...

 and nearly 100 smaller community organizations. Permanent jobs at living wages were still out of reach of many young black men.

In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson , often referred to as LBJ, was the 36th President of the United States after his service as the 37th Vice President of the United States...

 signed the Voting Rights Act, but the new law had no immediate effect on living conditions for blacks. A few days after the act became law, a riot broke out in the South Central
South Los Angeles
South Los Angeles, often abbreviated as South L.A. and formerly South Central Los Angeles, is the official name for a large geographic and cultural portion lying to the southwest and southeast of downtown Los Angeles, California. The area was formerly called South Central, and is still widely known...

 Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Like Harlem, Watts was an impoverished neighborhood with very high unemployment. Its residents were supervised by a largely white police department that had a history of abuse against blacks. While arresting a young man for drunk driving, police officers argued with the suspect's mother before onlookers. The conflict triggered a massive destruction of property through six days of rioting. Thirty-four people were killed and property valued at about $30 million was destroyed, making the Watts Riots
Watts Riots
The Watts Riots or the Watts Rebellion was a civil disturbance in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California from August 11 to August 15, 1965. The 5-day riot resulted in 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, and 3,438 arrests...

 among the worst in American history.

With black militancy on the rise, ghetto residents directed acts of anger at the police. Black residents growing tired of police brutality continued to riot. Some young people joined groups such as the Black Panthers
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

, whose popularity was based in part on their reputation for confronting police officers. Riots among blacks occurred in 1966 and 1967 in cities such as Atlanta, San Francisco, Oakland
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

, Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Seattle, Cleveland
Hough Riots
The Hough Riots were race riots in the predominantly African American community of Hough in Cleveland, Ohio that took place over a six-night period from July 18 to July 23, 1966. During the riots, four African Americans were killed and 30 people were critically injured. In addition, there were 275...

, Cincinnati, Columbus
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

, Newark
1967 Newark riots
The 1967 Newark riots were a major civil disturbance that occurred in the city of Newark, New Jersey between July 12 and July 17, 1967. The six days of rioting, looting, and destruction left 26 dead and hundreds injured.-Social unrest:...

, Chicago, New York City (specifically in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, Harlem and the Bronx), and worst of all in Detroit.

In Detroit, a comfortable black middle class
Black middle class
The black middle class, within the United States, refers to African Americans who occupy a middle class status within the American class structure. It is predominately a development that arose after the 1960s, during which the African American Civil Rights Movement led to reform movements aimed at...

 had begun to develop among families of blacks who worked at good-paying jobs in the automotive industry
Automotive industry
The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles, and is one of the world's most important economic sectors by revenue....

. Blacks who had not moved upward were living in much worse conditions, subject to the same problems as blacks in Watts and Harlem. When white police officers shut down an illegal bar on a liquor raid and arrested a large group of patrons during the hot summer, furious residents rioted.

One significant effect of the Detroit riot was the acceleration of "white flight
White flight
White flight has been a term that originated in the United States, starting in the mid-20th century, and applied to the large-scale migration of whites of various European ancestries from racially mixed urban regions to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions. It was first seen as...

", an ethnic succession by which ethnic white residents, who had become better established economically, moved out of inner-city neighborhoods to newer housing in the suburbs, which were first settled by European Americans, or whites. Poorer migrants and immigrants had the older housing in the city. Demonstrating the economic basis of the suburban migration, Detroit lost some of its black middle class as well, as did cities such as Washington, DC and Chicago during the next decades. As a result of suburbanization, the riots, and migration of jobs to the suburbs, formerly prosperous industrial cities, such as Detroit, Newark, and Baltimore, now have less than 40% white population. Newark is close enough to New York to attract new immigrants from Asia and the Middle East as well. Changes in industry caused continued job losses, depopulation of middle classes, and concentrated poverty in such cities in the late twentieth century.

President Johnson created the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders
Kerner Commission
The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission after its chair, Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. of Illinois, was an 11-member commission established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots in the United States and to provide...

 in 1967. The commission's final report called for major reforms in employment and public assistance for black communities. It warned that the United States was moving toward separate white and black societies. In April 1968 after the assassination
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

 in Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis, Tennessee
Memphis is a city in the southwestern corner of the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Shelby County. The city is located on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff, south of the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers....

, rioting broke out in cities across the country from frustration and despair. These included Cleveland, Baltimore
Baltimore riot of 1968
The Baltimore Riot of 1968 began two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Rioting broke out in 125 cities across the United States, and spread to the city of Baltimore, Maryland on Saturday, April 6. The Governor of Maryland, Spiro T...

, Washington, D.C.
1968 Washington, D.C. riots
Five days of race riots erupted in Washington, D.C. following the April 4, 1968 assassination of Civil Rights Movement-leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil unrest affected at least 110 U.S...

, Chicago
1968 Chicago riots
The 1968 Chicago riots were sparked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was shot while standing on the balcony of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968 at 6:01 pm. Violence and chaos followed, with blacks flooding out onto the streets of major...

, New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville riots of 1968
The Louisville riots of 1968 refers to riots in Louisville, Kentucky in May 1968. As in many other cities around the country, there were unrest and riots partially in response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. On May 27, 1968, a group of 400 people, mostly blacks, gathered at...

. As in previous riots, most of the damage was done in black neighborhoods. In some cities, it has taken more than a quarter of a century for these areas to recover from the damage of the riots; in others, little recovery has been achieved.

Programs in affirmative action
Affirmative action
Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination.-Origins:The term...

 resulted in the hiring of more black police officers in every major city. Today blacks make up a proportional majority of the police departments in cities such as Baltimore, Washington, New Orleans, Atlanta, Newark, and Detroit. Civil rights laws have reduced employment discrimination.

The conditions that led to frequent rioting in the late 1960s have receded, but not all the problems have been solved. With industrial and economic restructuring, hundreds of thousands of industrial jobs disappeared since the later 1950s from the old industrial cities. Some moved South, as has much population following new jobs, and others out of the U.S. altogether. Civil unrest broke out in Miami in 1980
Arthur McDuffie
Arthur McDuffie was an African American who died as a result of injuries suffered at the hands of five white Miami-Dade police officers after a traffic stop was conducted. He had led the officers on a high-speed chase on his motorcycle, and was driving with a suspended license. The officers were...

, in Los Angeles in 1992
1992 Los Angeles riots
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots or South Central Riots, also known as the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest were sparked on April 29, 1992, when a jury acquitted three white and one hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King following a...

, and in Cincinnati in 2001
2001 Cincinnati riots
The Cincinnati riots of 2001 were the largest urban disorders in the United States since the Los Angeles riots of 1992. The four days of rioting were a reaction to the fatal shooting in Cincinnati, Ohio of Timothy Thomas, a 19-year-old black male, by Steven Roach, a white police officer, during an...

.

Black power, 1966


At the same time King was finding himself at odds with factions of the Democratic Party, he was facing challenges from within the Civil Rights Movement to the two key tenets upon which the movement had been based: integration and non-violence. Stokely Carmichael, who became the leader of SNCC in 1966, was one of the earliest and most articulate spokespersons for what became known as the "Black Power" movement after he used that slogan, coined by activist and organizer Willie Ricks, in Greenwood, Mississippi
Greenwood, Mississippi
Greenwood is a city in and the county seat of Leflore County, Mississippi, United States, located at the eastern edge of the Mississippi Delta approximately 96 miles north of Jackson, Mississippi, and 130 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. The population was 15,205 at the 2010 census. It is the...

 on June 17, 1966.

In 1966 SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael
Stokely Carmichael
Kwame Ture , also known as Stokely Carmichael, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party...

 began urging African American communities to confront the Ku Klux Klan armed and ready for battle. He felt it was the only way to ever rid the communities of the terror caused by the Klan.

Several people engaging in the Black Power movement started to gain more of a sense in black pride and identity as well. In gaining more of a sense of a cultural identity, several blacks demanded that whites no longer refer to them as "Negroes" but as "Afro-Americans." Up until the mid-1960s, blacks had dressed similarly to whites and straightened their hair
Hair straightening
Hair straightening is a hair styling technique which involves the flattening and straightening of hair in order to give it a smooth, streamlined, and 'sleek' appearance. It may be accomplished by using hair irons and hot combs, chemical relaxers, Japanese hair straightening, or Brazilian hair...

. As a part of gaining a unique identity, blacks started to wear loosely fit dashiki
Dashiki
The dashiki is a colorful men's garment widely worn in West Africa that covers the top half of the body. It has formal and informal versions and varies from simple draped clothing to fully tailored suits. Traditional female attire is called a caftan, or kaftan...

s and had started to grow their hair out as a natural afro
Afro
Afro, sometimes shortened to fro and also known as a "natural", is a hairstyle worn naturally by people with lengthy kinky hair texture or specifically styled in such a fashion by individuals with naturally curly or straight hair...

. The afro, sometimes nicknamed the "'fro," remained a popular black hairstyle until the late 1970s.

Black Power was made most public, however, by the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

, which was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale
Bobby Seale
Robert George "Bobby" Seale , is an activist. He is known for co-founding the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton.-Early life:...

 in Oakland, California
Oakland, California
Oakland is a major West Coast port city on San Francisco Bay in the U.S. state of California. It is the eighth-largest city in the state with a 2010 population of 390,724...

, in 1966. This group followed the ideology of Malcolm X
Malcolm X
Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...

, a former member of the Nation of Islam
Nation of Islam
The Nation of Islam is a mainly African-American new religious movement founded in Detroit, Michigan by Wallace D. Fard Muhammad in July 1930 to improve the spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of African-Americans in the United States of America. The movement teaches black pride and...

, using a "by-any-means necessary" approach to stopping inequality. They sought to rid African American neighborhoods of police brutality
Police brutality
Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer....

 and created a ten-point plan amongst other things. Their dress code consisted of black leather jackets, berets, slacks, and light blue shirts. They wore an afro hairstyle. They are best remembered for setting up free breakfast programs, referring to police officers as "pigs", displaying shotguns and a raised fist
Raised fist
The raised fist is a symbol of solidarity and support. It is also used as a salute to express unity, strength, defiance, or resistance. The salute dates back to ancient Assyria as a symbol of resistance in the face of violence.-History:Assyrian depictions of the goddess Ishtar show her raising a...

, and often using the statement of "Power to the people
Power to the people (slogan)
"Power to the people" is a political slogan that has been used in a wide variety of contexts.-In politics:During the 1960s in the United States, young people began speaking and writing this phrase as a form of rebellion against what they perceived as the oppression by the older generation,...

".

Black Power was taken to another level inside prison walls. In 1966, George Jackson
George Jackson (Black Panther)
George Lester Jackson was an American convict who became a left-wing activist, Marxist, author, a member of the Black Panther Party, and co-founder of the Black Guerrilla Family prison gang...

 formed the Black Guerrilla Family
Black Guerrilla Family
The Black Guerrilla Family is a prison and street gang founded in 1966 by George Jackson and W.L...

 in the California San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin State Prison is a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation state prison for men in unincorporated San Quentin, Marin County, California, United States. Opened in July 1852, it is the oldest prison in the state. California's only death row for male inmates, the largest...

. The goal of this group was to overthrow the white-run government in America and the prison system. In 1970, this group displayed their dedication after a white prison guard was found not guilty of shooting and killing three black prisoners from the prison tower. They retaliated by killing a white prison guard.
Released in August 1968, the number one Rhythm & Blues single
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, is a chart released weekly by Billboard in the United States.The chart, initiated in 1942, is used to track the success of popular music songs in urban, or primarily African American, venues. Dominated over the years at various times by jazz, rhythm and blues, doo-wop, soul,...

 for the Billboard Year-End
Billboard Year-End
Billboard Year-End charts are a cumulative measure of a single or album's performance in the United States, based upon the Billboard magazine charts during any given chart year. Billboard's "chart year" runs from the first week of December to the final week in November...

 list was James Brown
James Brown
James Joseph Brown was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist. He is the originator of Funk and is recognized as a major figure in the 20th century popular music for both his vocals and dancing. He has been referred to as "The Godfather of Soul," "Mr...

's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud". In October 1968, Tommie Smith
Tommie Smith
Tommie Smith is an African American former track & field athlete and wide receiver in the American Football League. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Smith won the 200-meter dash finals in 19.83 seconds – the first time the 20 second barrier was broken...

 and John Carlos
John Carlos
John Wesley Carlos is a Cuban American former track and field athlete and professional football player. He was the bronze-medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics and his black power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith caused much political controversy...

, while being awarded the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the 1968 Summer Olympics
1968 Summer Olympics
The 1968 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XIX Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in Mexico City, Mexico in October 1968. The 1968 Games were the first Olympic Games hosted by a developing country, and the first Games hosted by a Spanish-speaking country...

, donned human rights badges and each raised a black-gloved Black Power salute during their podium ceremony. Incidentally, it was the suggestion of white silver medalist, Peter Norman
Peter Norman
Peter George Norman was an Australian track athlete best known for winning the silver medal in the 200 metres at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. His time of 20.06 seconds still stands as the Australian 200m record. He was a five-time Australian 200m champion...

 of Australia, for Smith and Carlos to each wear one black glove. Smith and Carlos were immediately ejected from the games by the United States Olympic Committee
United States Olympic Committee
The United States Olympic Committee is a non-profit organization that serves as the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States and coordinates the relationship between the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency and various...

, and later the International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

 issued a permanent lifetime ban for the two. However, the Black Power movement had been given a stage on live, international television.

King was not comfortable with the "Black Power" slogan, which sounded too much like black nationalism
Black nationalism
Black nationalism advocates a racial definition of indigenous national identity, as opposed to multiculturalism. There are different indigenous nationalist philosophies but the principles of all African nationalist ideologies are unity, and self-determination or independence from European society...

 to him. SNCC activists, in the meantime, began embracing the "right to self-defense" in response to attacks from white authorities, and booed King for continuing to advocate non-violence. When King was murdered in 1968, Stokely Carmichael stated that whites murdered the one person who would prevent rampant rioting and that blacks would burn every major city to the ground. In every major city from Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 to San Francisco, racial riots broke out in the black community following King's death and as a result, "White Flight" occurred from several cities leaving Blacks in a dilapidated and nearly unrepairable city.

Gates v. Collier


Conditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary
Mississippi State Penitentiary
Mississippi State Penitentiary , also known as Parchman Farm, is the oldest prison and the only maximum security prison for men in the state of Mississippi, USA....

 at Parchman, then known as Parchman Farm, became part of the public discussion of civil rights after activists were imprisoned there. In the spring of 1961, Freedom Riders came to the South to test the desegregation
Desegregation
Desegregation is the process of ending the separation of two groups usually referring to races. This is most commonly used in reference to the United States. Desegregation was long a focus of the American Civil Rights Movement, both before and after the United States Supreme Court's decision in...

 of public facilities. By the end of June 1963, Freedom Riders had been convicted in Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson, Mississippi
Jackson is the capital and the most populous city of the US state of Mississippi. It is one of two county seats of Hinds County ,. The population of the city declined from 184,256 at the 2000 census to 173,514 at the 2010 census...

. Many were jailed in Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. Mississippi employed the trusty system
Trusty system
The "trusty system" was a strict system of discipline and security in the US made compulsory under Mississippi state law as the method of controlling and working inmates at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi's...

, a hierarchical order of inmates that used some inmates to control and enforce punishment of other inmates.

In 1970 the civil rights lawyer Roy Haber began taking statements from inmates. He collected 50 pages of details of murders, rapes, beatings and other abuses suffered by the inmates from 1969 to 1971 at Mississippi State Penitentiary. In a landmark case known as Gates v. Collier
Gates v. Collier
Gates v. Collier, 501 F.2d 1291 , was a landmark case decided in U.S. federal court that brought an end to the Trusty system and the flagrant inmate abuse that accompanied it at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, Mississippi...

(1972), four inmates represented by Haber sued the superintendent of Parchman Farm for violating their rights under the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

.

Federal Judge William C. Keady found in favor of the inmates, writing that Parchman Farm violated the civil rights of the inmates by inflicting cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment
Cruel and unusual punishment is a phrase describing criminal punishment which is considered unacceptable due to the suffering or humiliation it inflicts on the condemned person...

. He ordered an immediate end to all unconstitutional conditions and practices. Racial segregation of inmates was abolished. And the trustee system, which allow certain inmates to have power and control over others, was also abolished.

The prison was renovated in 1972 after the scathing ruling by Judge Keady; he wrote that the prison was an affront to "modern standards of decency." Among other reforms, the accommodations were made fit for human habitation. The system of "trusties" was abolished. (The prison had armed lifers
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 with rifles and given them authority to oversee and guard other inmates, which led to many abuses and murders.)

In integrated correctional facilities in northern and western states, blacks represented a disproportionate number of the prisoners, in excess of their proportion of the general population. They were often treated as second-class citizens by white correctional officers. Blacks also represented a disproportionately high number of death row
Death row
Death row signifies the place, often a section of a prison, that houses individuals awaiting execution. The term is also used figuratively to describe the state of awaiting execution , even in places where no special facility or separate unit for condemned inmates exists.After individuals are found...

 inmates. Eldridge Cleaver
Eldridge Cleaver
Leroy Eldridge Cleaver better known as Eldridge Cleaver, was a leading member of the Black Panther Party and a writer...

's book Soul on Ice was written from his experiences in the California correctional system; it contributed to black militancy.

Cold War


There was an international context for the actions of the U.S. Federal government during these years. It had stature to maintain in Europe and a need to appeal to the people in the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

.
In Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy, the historian Mary L. Dudziak argued that Communists
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 critical of the United States criticized the nation for its hypocrisy in portraying itself as the "leader of the free world," when so many of its citizens were subjected to severe racial discrimination and violence. She argued that this was a major factor in the government moving to support civil rights legislation.

Documentary films

  • Freedom on My Mind
    Freedom on My Mind
    Freedom on My Mind is a 1994 documentary film about the efforts to register African-American voters in 1960s Mississippi and the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature...

    , 110 minutes, 1994, Producer/Directors: Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford, 1994 Academy Award Nominee, Best Documentary Feature
  • Eyes on the Prize
    Eyes on the Prize
    Eyes on the Prize is a 14-hour documentary series about the African-American Civil Rights Movement. The series was produced in two-stages: Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years 1954–1964 consists of the first six episodes covering the time period between the Brown v. Board decision and...

    (1987 and 1990), PBS television series; released again in 2006 and 2009.
  • Dare Not Walk Alone
    Dare Not Walk Alone
    Dare Not Walk Alone is a 2006 documentary directed by Jeremy Dean. The film played the festival circuit in 2006 and in 2007 received the audience award at the Deep Focus Film Festival in Columbus, Ohio. It was signed by Indican Pictures for theatrical, DVD, and TV release...

    , about the civil rights movement in St. Augustine, Florida. Nominated in 2009 for an NAACP Image Award.
  • Crossing in St. Augustine (2010), produced by Andrew Young
    Andrew Young
    Andrew Jackson Young is an American politician, diplomat, activist and pastor from Georgia. He has served as Mayor of Atlanta, a Congressman from the 5th district, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations...

    , who participated in the civil rights movement in St. Augustine in 1964. Information available from AndrewYoung.Org.
  • Freedom Riders (2010), 120 min. PBS, American Experience
    American Experience
    American Experience is a television program airing on the Public Broadcasting Service Public television stations in the United States. The program airs documentaries, many of which have won awards, about important or interesting events and people in American history...

    .

Activist organizations


National/regional civil rights organizations
  • Congress of Racial Equality
    Congress of Racial Equality
    The Congress of Racial Equality or CORE was a U.S. civil rights organization that originally played a pivotal role for African-Americans in the Civil Rights Movement...

     (CORE)
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, usually abbreviated as NAACP, is an African-American civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909. Its mission is "to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to...

     (NAACP)
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference
    Southern Christian Leadership Conference
    The Southern Christian Leadership Conference is an African-American civil rights organization. SCLC was closely associated with its first president, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...

     (SCLC)
  • Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)
  • Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF)
  • National Council of Negro Women
    National Council of Negro Women
    The National Council of Negro Women is a non-profit organization with the mission to advance the opportunities and the quality of life for African American women, their families and communities. NCNW fulfills this mission through research, advocacy, national and community based services and...

     (NCNW)
  • Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
    Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
    The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights , formerly called The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, is an umbrella group of American civil rights interest groups.-Organizational history:...

     (LCCR)
  • Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR)
  • Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC)
  • Common Ground Relief


National economic empowerment organizations
  • Urban League
  • Operation Breadbasket
    Operation Breadbasket
    Operation Breadbasket was an organization dedicated to improving the economic conditions of black communities across the United States of America....



Local civil rights organizations
  • Regional Council of Negro Leadership
    Regional Council of Negro Leadership
    The Regional Council of Negro Leadership was a society in Mississippi founded by T. R. M. Howard in 1951 to promote a program of civil rights, self-help, and business ownership...

     (Mississippi)
  • Council of Federated Organizations
    Council of Federated Organizations
    The Council of Federated Organizations was formed in Mississippi in 1962.A coalition of the major Civil Rights Movement organizations operating in Mississippi, COFO was formed to coordinate and unite voter registration and other civil rights activities in the state and oversee the distribution of...

     (Mississippi)
  • Women's Political Council
    Women's Political Council
    The Women's Political Council, founded in Montgomery, Alabama, was an organization that was part of the African-American Civil Rights Movement.. Members included Mary Fair Burks, Jo Ann Robinson, Irene West, and Uretta Adair...

     (Montgomery, AL)
  • Montgomery Improvement Association
    Montgomery Improvement Association
    The Montgomery Improvement Association was formed on December 5, 1955 by black ministers and community leaders in Montgomery, Alabama. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr...

     (Montgomery, AL)
  • Albany Movement
    Albany Movement
    The Albany Movement was a desegregation coalition formed in Albany, Georgia, on November 17, 1961. Local activists, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee , and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were all involved in the movement. The movement was led by William...

     (Albany, GA)
  • Virginia Students Civil Rights Committee

General

  • African-American Civil Rights Movement (1896–1954)
  • Timeline of the African American Civil Rights Movement
  • Civil rights movement veterans
    Civil rights movement veterans
    Civil Rights Movement Veterans is a loose, on-line association of people who were active in the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s with organizations such as NAACP, CORE, SCLC, SNCC, Southern Conference Education Fund , Southern Students Organizing Committee , Medical Committee for Human...

  • Executive Order 9981
    Executive Order 9981
    Executive Order 9981 is an executive order issued on July 26, 1948 by U.S. President Harry S. Truman. It expanded on Executive Order 8802 by establishing equality of treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services for people of all races, religions, or national origins."In 1947, Randolph, along...

    , ending segregated units in the United States military
  • Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project
    Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project
    The Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project, of the Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights History Projects, is dedicated to social movements and labor history in the Pacific Northwest. It is directed by Professor James N. Gregory of the University of Washington...

  • Photographers of the American civil rights movement
    Photographers of the American Civil Rights Movement
    Beginning with the murder of Emmett Till in 1955, photography and photographers played an important role in advancing the American Civil Rights Movement by documenting the public and private acts of racial discrimination against African Americans...

  • Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
    Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association
    The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association was an organisation which campaigned for equal civil rights for the all the people in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s and early 1970s...

    —inspired by the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
  • Protests of 1968
    Protests of 1968
    The protests of 1968 consisted of a worldwide series of protests, largely participated in by students and workers.-Background:Background speculations of overall causality vary about the political protests centering on the year 1968. Some argue that protests could be attributed to the social changes...


Activists


  • Ralph Abernathy
    Ralph Abernathy
    Ralph David Abernathy, Sr. was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, a minister, and a close associate of Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Following King's assassination, Dr. Abernathy took up the leadership of the SCLC Poor People's Campaign and...

  • Victoria Gray Adams
    Victoria Gray Adams
    Victoria Jackson Gray Adams was an American civil rights activist from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She was one of the founding members of the influential Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.-Early life and education:...

  • Ella Baker
    Ella Baker
    Ella Josephine Baker was an African American civil rights and human rights activist beginning in the 1930s....

  • James Baldwin
    James Baldwin (writer)
    James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.Baldwin's essays, for instance "Notes of a Native Son" , explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th century America,...

  • Marion Barry
    Marion Barry
    Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. is an American Democratic politician who is currently serving as a member of the Council of the District of Columbia, representing DC's Ward 8. Barry served as the second elected mayor of the District of Columbia from 1979 to 1991, and again as the fourth mayor from 1995...

  • Daisy Bates
    Daisy Bates (civil rights activist)
    Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was an American civil rights activist, publisher and writer who played a leading role in the Little Rock integration crisis of 1957....

  • James Bevel
    James Bevel
    James L. Bevel was an American minister and leader of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement who, as the Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference initiated, strategized, directed, and developed SCLC's three major successes of the era:...

  • Claude Black
    Claude Black
    Claude William Black, Jr. was an American Baptist minister and political figure. He was born the son of local Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters vice president Claude, Sr...

  • Unita Blackwell
    Unita Blackwell
    Unita Blackwell is an American civil rights activist who was the first African-American woman, and the tenth African-American, to be elected mayor in the U.S. state of Mississippi. Blackwell was a project director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped organize voter drives...

  • Julian Bond
    Julian Bond
    Horace Julian Bond , known as Julian Bond, is an American social activist and leader in the American civil rights movement, politician, professor, and writer. While a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, during the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating...

  • Anne Braden
    Anne Braden
    Anne McCarty Braden was an American advocate of racial equality. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, and raised in rigidly segregated Anniston, Alabama, Braden grew up in a white middle-class family that accepted southern racial morals wholeheartedly...

  • Mary Fair Burks
    Mary Fair Burks
    Mary Fair Burks was an American educator, scholar, and civil rights activist from Montgomery, Alabama. She was head of the English department at Alabama State College in the late 1940s and early 1950s...

  • Stokely Carmichael
    Stokely Carmichael
    Kwame Ture , also known as Stokely Carmichael, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party...

  • Septima Clark
  • Claudette Colvin
    Claudette Colvin
    Claudette Colvin is a pioneer of the African-American civil rights movement. She was the first person to resist bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, preceding the better known Rosa Parks incident by nine months. The court case stemming from her refusal to give up her seat on the bus, decided by...

  • Jonathan Daniels
  • Annie Devine
  • Doris Derby
    Doris Derby
    Doris Derby is an educator and artist who was involved in the American Civil Rights Movement. She was a founding member of the New York branch of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She then traveled to Mississippi to organize an adult literacy program at Tougaloo College...

  • Marian Wright Edelman
    Marian Wright Edelman
    Marian Wright Edelman is an American activist for the rights of children. She is president and founder of the Children's Defense Fund.-Early years:...

  • Medgar Evers
    Medgar Evers
    Medgar Wiley Evers was an African American civil rights activist from Mississippi involved in efforts to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi...

  • Myrlie Evers-Williams
    Myrlie Evers-Williams
    SynopsisEarly LifeLife with MedgarMedgar Evers MurderLife After Medgar'NAACP/ HonorsAccomplishmentsWhoopi Goldberg played her in Ghosts of Mississippi...


  • James L. Farmer, Jr.
    James L. Farmer, Jr.
    James Leonard Farmer, Jr. was a civil rights activist and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was the initiator and organizer of the 1961 Freedom Ride, which eventually led to the desegregation of inter-state transportation in the United States.In 1942, Farmer co-founded the Committee...

  • Karl Fleming
    Karl Fleming
    Karl Fleming is an American journalist who made a significant contribution to the American Civil Rights Movement through his work for Newsweek magazine in the 1960s.-Bibliography:...

  • James Forman
    James Forman
    James Forman was an American Civil Rights leader active in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, and the International Black Workers Congress...

  • Frankie Muse Freeman
  • Dick Gregory
    Dick Gregory
    Richard Claxton "Dick" Gregory is an American comedian, social activist, social critic, writer, and entrepreneur....

  • Fannie Lou Hamer
    Fannie Lou Hamer
    Fannie Lou Hamer was an American voting rights activist and civil rights leader....

  • Lorraine Hansberry
    Lorraine Hansberry
    Lorraine Hansberry was an African American playwright and author of political speeches, letters, and essays...

  • Aaron Henry
    Aaron Henry
    Aaron Henry was an American civil rights leader, politician, and head of the Mississippi branch of the NAACP. He was one of the founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party which tried to seat their delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.-Early life:Henry was born in Dublin,...

  • Myles Horton
    Myles Horton
    Myles Horton was an American educator, socialist and cofounder of the Highlander Folk School, famous for its role in the Civil Rights Movement . Horton taught and heavily influenced most of the era's leaders. They included Dr...

  • T. R. M. Howard
    T. R. M. Howard
    Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard was an American civil rights leader, fraternal organization leader, entrepreneur and surgeon...

  • Winson Hudson
    Winson Hudson
    Winson Hudson, born Anger Winson Gates was a civil rights activist.-Life:Anger Winson Gates was the tenth child of thirteen children born to John Gates and Emma Laura Kirkland Turner. She was born and raised in Carthage, Mississippi. Her mother died, at age 44, during childbirth when Winson was...

  • Jesse Jackson
    Jesse Jackson
    Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr. is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to...

  • Jimmie Lee Jackson
    Jimmie Lee Jackson
    Jimmie Lee Jackson was a civil rights protestor who was shot and killed by Alabama State Trooper James Bonard Fowler in 1965. Jackson was unarmed. His death inspired the Selma to Montgomery marches, an important event in the American Civil Rights movement. He was 26 years old.-Personal...

  • Esau Jenkins
    Esau Jenkins
    Esau Jenkins was the founder/overseer of Haut Gap Middle School in Charleston County School District. This school once was a high school because back then Jim Crow laws was going on and that school were for African Americans in Johns Island, South Carolina...

  • Gloria Johnson-Powell
    Gloria Johnson-Powell
    Gloria Johnson-Powell, MD is a child psychiatrist who is also an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement and was one of the first African American woman to attain tenure at Harvard Medical School ....

  • Clyde Kennard
    Clyde Kennard
    Clyde Kennard was a Civil Rights pioneer and martyr, born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In the 1950s, he attempted several times to enroll at Mississippi Southern College to complete his undergraduate degree started at University of Chicago...

  • Coretta Scott King
    Coretta Scott King
    Coretta Scott King was an American author, activist, and civil rights leader. The widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King helped lead the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.Mrs...

  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for being an iconic figure in the advancement of civil rights in the United States and around the world, using nonviolent methods following the...

  • Bernard Lafayette
    Bernard Lafayette
    Bernard Lafayette Jr. is a longtime civil rights activist and organizer, who was a leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement...

  • W. W. Law
    W. W. Law
    Westley Wallace Law was a civil rights leader from Savannah, Georgia. He was president of the Savannah chapter of the NAACP, where he led his community and made great strides in desegregation through nonviolent resistance from 1950 to 1976. After his time with the NAACP W. W...


  • James Lawson
  • John Lewis
  • Viola Liuzzo
    Viola Liuzzo
    Viola Fauver Gregg Liuzzo was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan, who was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama...

  • Joseph Lowery
    Joseph Lowery
    Joseph Echols Lowery is a minister in the United Methodist Church and leader in the American civil rights movement. He later became the third president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and his immediate successor, Rev. Dr...

  • Autherine Lucy
    Autherine Lucy
    Autherine Juanita Lucy was the first black student to attend the University of Alabama, in 1956.She was born on October 5, 1929 in Shiloh, Alabama and graduated from Linden Academy in 1947....

  • Clara Luper
    Clara Luper
    Clara Shepard Luper was a civic leader, retired schoolteacher, and a pioneering leader in the American Civil Rights Movement...

  • Thurgood Marshall
    Thurgood Marshall
    Thurgood Marshall was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, serving from October 1967 until October 1991...

  • James Meredith
    James Meredith
    James H. Meredith is an American civil rights movement figure, a writer, and a political adviser. In 1962, he was the first African American student admitted to the segregated University of Mississippi, an event that was a flashpoint in the American civil rights movement. Motivated by President...

  • Loren Miller
    Loren Miller (judge)
    Loren Miller , was an American, California Superior Court Justice, County of Los Angeles, appointed by former governor Edmund G. Brown in 1964, serving until 1967...

  • Jack Minnis
    Jack Minnis
    Jack Minnis was an American activist, and the founder and director of opposition research for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the Civil Rights era. Minnis researched federal expenditures and state and local subversion of racial equality...

  • Anne Moody
    Anne Moody
    Anne Moody is an African-American author who has written about her experiences growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi, joining the Civil Rights Movement, and fighting racism against blacks in the United States beginning in the 1960s-Life:Born Essie Mae Moody, she was the oldest of nine...

  • Harry T. Moore
    Harry T. Moore
    Harry Tyson Moore was an African-American teacher, and founder of the first branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Brevard County, Florida....

  • Robert Parris Moses
    Robert Parris Moses
    Robert Parris Moses is an American, Harvard-trained educator who was a leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and later founded the nationwide U.S. Algebra project.-Biography:...

  • Diane Nash
    Diane Nash
    Diane Judith Nash was a leader and strategist of the student wing of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. A historian described her as: "…bright, focused, utterly fearless, with an unerring instinct for the correct tactical move at each increment of the crisis; as a leader, her instincts had been...

  • Denise Nicholas
    Denise Nicholas
    Denise Nicholas is an American actress and social activist who was involved in the American Civil Rights Movement...

  • E. D. Nixon
  • David Nolan
    David Nolan (author)
    David Nolan was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1946, the son of journalist Joseph T. Nolan and his artist wife Virginia.He attended the public schools in Bayside, New York and Waterbury, Connecticut, studied at the University of Virginia, and was active in the American Civil Rights Movement of...

  • James Orange
    James Orange
    James Edward Orange, MLK March website biography. Accessed 2008-02-17. was a pastor and a leading civil rights activist in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in America.-Personal life:...

  • Nan Grogan Orrock
    Nan Grogan Orrock
    Nan Grogan Orrock is a Democratic member of the Georgia House of Representatives, representing the 58th district. She is the Vice-Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and the former Majority Whip...


  • Rosa Parks
    Rosa Parks
    Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the U.S. Congress called "the first lady of civil rights", and "the mother of the freedom movement"....

  • Rutledge Pearson
    Rutledge Pearson
    Rutledge Pearson was an educator, civil rights leader and human rights activist. He was also a notable baseball player in his early years. He was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd H. Pearson Sr and graduated from New Stanton High School in 1947...

  • George Raymond Jr.
    George Raymond Jr.
    George Raymond, Jr. was an African American civil rights activist; a member of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; a Freedom Rider; and head of the Congress of Racial Equality in Mississippi in the 1960s. Raymond influenced many of Mississippi's most known activists, such as Anne Moody, C.O...

  • James Reeb
    James Reeb
    James Reeb was a white American Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, Massachusetts and pastor and civil rights activist in Washington, DC. While marching for civil rights in Selma, Alabama in 1965, he was beaten severely by segregationists and died of head injuries two days later in the...

  • Gloria Richardson
    Gloria Richardson
    Gloria St. Clair Hayes Richardson is best known as the leader of the Cambridge Movement, a civil rights struggle in Cambridge, Maryland in the 1960s. The Movement made significant strides against institutionalized racial discrimination in Cambridge by bringing attention to social injustices such...

  • Amelia Boynton Robinson
    Amelia Boynton Robinson
    Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson was a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama. A key figure in the 1965 march that became known as Bloody Sunday, she later became vice-president of the Schiller Institute affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche. She was awarded the Martin Luther King,...

  • Jo Ann Robinson
    Jo Ann Robinson
    Jo Ann Gibson Robinson was a civil rights activist and educator in Montgomery, Alabama. Born near Culloden, Georgia, she was the youngest of twelve children. She attended Fort Valley State College and then became a public school teacher in Macon, where she was married to Wilbur Robinson for a...

  • Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson
    Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson
    Ruby Doris Smith-Robinson worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee from its earliest days in 1960 until her death in October 1967. She served the organization as an activist in the field and as an administrator in the Atlanta central office. She eventually succeeded James Forman...

  • Bayard Rustin
    Bayard Rustin
    Bayard Rustin was an American leader in social movements for civil rights, socialism, pacifism and non-violence, and gay rights.In the pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation , Rustin practiced nonviolence...

  • Cleveland Sellers
    Cleveland Sellers
    Cleveland Sellers, Jr. was born in 1944 in Denmark, South Carolina to Cleveland and Pauline Sellers. As a young man, he was known for his involvement in the African-American Civil Rights Movement through the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee...

  • Fred Shuttlesworth
    Fred Shuttlesworth
    Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, born Freddie Lee Robinson, was a U.S. civil rights activist who led the fight against segregation and other forms of racism as a minister in Birmingham, Alabama...

  • Modjeska Monteith Simkins
    Modjeska Monteith Simkins
    Modjeska Monteith Simkins was an important leader of African American public health reform, social reform and the civil rights movement in South Carolina.-Life:...

  • Rev. Charles Kenzie Steele
    Charles Kenzie Steele
    Rev. Charles Kenzie Steele was a preacher and a civil rights activist. He was one of the main organizers of the Tallahassee bus boycott, and a prominent member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.-Biography:Steele was the son of a coal miner, and at a young age he knew that he wanted...

  • C. T. Vivian
    C. T. Vivian
    Cordy Tindell Vivian is a minister, author, and was a close friend and lieutenant of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. during the American Civil Rights Movement. Vivian continues to reside in Atlanta, Georgia and most recently founded the C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute, Inc. Rev...

  • Wyatt Tee Walker
    Wyatt Tee Walker
    Wyatt Tee Walker is a United States black pastor, national civil rights leader, theologian, and cultural historian. He was a Chief of Staff for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in 1958 became an early board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference . He helped found the Congress for...

  • Hosea Williams
    Hosea Williams
    Hosea Lorenzo Williams was a United States civil rights leader, ordained minister, businessman, philanthropist, scientist and politician...

  • Malcolm X
    Malcolm X
    Malcolm X , born Malcolm Little and also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz , was an African American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of African Americans, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its...

  • Andrew Young
    Andrew Young
    Andrew Jackson Young is an American politician, diplomat, activist and pastor from Georgia. He has served as Mayor of Atlanta, a Congressman from the 5th district, and United States Ambassador to the United Nations...



Related activists and artists


  • Maya Angelou
    Maya Angelou
    Maya Angelou is an American author and poet who has been called "America's most visible black female autobiographer" by scholar Joanne M. Braxton. She is best known for her series of six autobiographical volumes, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first and most highly...

  • Joan Baez
    Joan Baez
    Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

  • James Baldwin
    James Baldwin (writer)
    James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic.Baldwin's essays, for instance "Notes of a Native Son" , explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in Western societies, most notably in mid-20th century America,...

  • Harry Belafonte
    Harry Belafonte
    Harold George "Harry" Belafonte, Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist. He was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s...

  • Ralph Bunche
    Ralph Bunche
    Ralph Johnson Bunche or 1904December 9, 1971) was an American political scientist and diplomat who received the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his late 1940s mediation in Palestine. He was the first person of color to be so honored in the history of the Prize...

  • Guy Carawan
    Guy Carawan
    Guy Carawan is an American folk musician and musicologist. He serves as music director and song leader for the Highlander Research and Education Center in New Market, Tennessee....

  • Robert Carter
    Robert L. Carter
    Robert Lee Carter is a U.S. civil rights activist and judge.-Personal history and early life:Robert Lee Carter was born on March 11, 1917, in Careyville, Florida. While still very young, his mother moved north to Newark, New Jersey, where he was raised...

  • William Sloane Coffin
    William Sloane Coffin
    William Sloane Coffin, Jr. was an American liberal Christian clergyman and long-time peace activist. He was ordained in the Presbyterian church and later received ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ....

  • Ossie Davis
    Ossie Davis
    Ossie Davis was an American film actor, director, poet, playwright, writer, and social activist.-Early years:...


  • Ruby Dee
    Ruby Dee
    Ruby Dee is an American actress, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and activist, perhaps best known for co-starring in the film A Raisin in the Sun and the film American Gangster for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.-Early years:Dee was born Ruby...

  • James Dombrowski
  • W. E. B. Du Bois
  • Virginia Durr
  • Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan
    Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

  • John Hope Franklin
    John Hope Franklin
    John Hope Franklin was a United States historian and past president of Phi Beta Kappa, the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association, and the Southern Historical Association. Franklin is best known for his work From Slavery to Freedom, first published in 1947, and...

  • Jack Greenberg
    Jack Greenberg (lawyer)
    Jack Greenberg is an American attorney and legal scholar. He was the Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund from 1961 to 1984, succeeding Thurgood Marshall....

  • Anna Arnold Hedgeman
    Anna Arnold Hedgeman
    Anna Arnold Hedgeman an African American civil rights leader, politician, educator, and writer.Anna Arnold was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, to William James Arnold II and Marie Ellen Arnold. She moved with her family to Anoka, Minnesota when she was very young. The Methodist church and the...

  • Dorothy Height
    Dorothy Height
    Dorothy Irene Height was an American administrator, educator, and social activist. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.-Early life:Height was born in...


  • Clarence Jordan
    Clarence Jordan
    Clarence Jordan , a farmer and New Testament Greek scholar, was the founder of Koinonia Farm, a small but influential religious community in southwest Georgia and the author of the Cotton Patch translations of the New Testament. He was also instrumental in the founding of Habitat for Humanity...

  • Stetson Kennedy
    Stetson Kennedy
    William Stetson Kennedy was an American author and human rights activist. One of the pioneer folklore collectors during the first half of the twentieth century, he is remembered for having infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s, exposing its secrets to authorities and the outside world...

  • Arthur Kinoy
    Arthur Kinoy
    Arthur Kinoy , was an attorney and progressive civil rights leader who became a professor of law at the Rutgers School of Law—Newark. He was one of the founders of the Center for Constitutional Rights and successfully argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.-Education:Kinoy was born on...

  • William Kunstler
    William Kunstler
    William Moses Kunstler was an American self-described "radical lawyer" and civil rights activist, known for his controversial clients...

  • Staughton Lynd
    Staughton Lynd
    Staughton Craig Lynd is an American conscientious objector, Quaker, peace activist and civil rights activist, tax resister, historian, professor, author and lawyer. His involvement in social justice causes has brought him into contact with some of the nation's most influential activists, including...

  • Constance Baker Motley
    Constance Baker Motley
    Constance Baker Motley was an African American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator, and President of Manhattan, New York City.-Early Life and Academics:...

  • Nichelle Nichols
    Nichelle Nichols
    Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting...

  • Phil Ochs
    Phil Ochs
    Philip David Ochs was an American protest singer and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice...

  • Odetta
    Odetta
    Odetta Holmes, known as Odetta, was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter, and a human rights activist, often referred to as "The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement". Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals...


  • Sidney Poitier
    Sidney Poitier
    Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field...

  • A. Philip Randolph
    A. Philip Randolph
    Asa Philip Randolph was a leader in the African American civil-rights movement and the American labor movement. He organized and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly Negro labor union. In the early civil-rights movement, Randolph led the March on Washington...

  • Paul Robeson
    Paul Robeson
    Paul Leroy Robeson was an American concert singer , recording artist, actor, athlete, scholar who was an advocate for the Civil Rights Movement in the first half of the twentieth century...

  • Jackie Robinson
    Jackie Robinson
    Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson was the first black Major League Baseball player of the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947...

  • Pete Seeger
    Pete Seeger
    Peter "Pete" Seeger is an American folk singer and was an iconic figure in the mid-twentieth century American folk music revival. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of The Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead...

  • Nina Simone
    Nina Simone
    Eunice Kathleen Waymon , better known by her stage name Nina Simone , was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music...

  • Norman Thomas
    Norman Thomas
    Norman Mattoon Thomas was a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.-Early years:...

  • Roy Wilkins
    Roy Wilkins
    Roy Wilkins was a prominent civil rights activist in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s. Wilkins' most notable role was in his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ....

  • Whitney Young
    Whitney Young
    Whitney Moore Young Jr. was an American civil rights leader.He spent most of his career working to end employment discrimination in the United States and turning the National Urban League from a relatively passive civil rights organization into one that aggressively fought for equitable access to...

  • Howard Zinn
    Howard Zinn
    Howard Zinn was an American historian, academic, author, playwright, and social activist. Before and during his tenure as a political science professor at Boston University from 1964-88 he wrote more than 20 books, which included his best-selling and influential A People's History of the United...



Further reading

  • Abel, Elizabeth. Signs of the Times: The Visual Politics of Jim Crow. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.
  • Arsenault, Raymond. Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-19-513674-8
  • Barnes, Catherine A. Journey from Jim Crow: The Desegregation of Southern Transit, Columbia University Press, 1983.
  • Berger, Martin A. Seeing through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.
  • Beito, David T. and Beito, Linda Royster, Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howard's Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power, University of Illinois Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-252-03420-6
  • Branch, Taylor
    Taylor Branch
    Taylor Branch is an American author and historian best known for his award-winning trilogy of books chronicling the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and some of the history of the American civil rights movement...

    . At Canaans Edge: America In the King Years, 1965–1968. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006. ISBN 0-684-85712-X
  • Branch, Taylor. Parting the waters : America in the King years, 1954–1963. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988. ISBN 0-671-46097-8
  • Branch, Taylor. Pillar of fire : America in the King years, 1963–1965.: Simon & Schuster, 1998. ISBN 0-684-80819-6
  • Breitman, George. The Assassination of Malcolm X. New York: Pathfinder Press. 1976.
  • Carson, Clayborne
    Clayborne Carson
    Clayborne Carson is an African American professor of history at Stanford University, and director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. Since 1985 he has directed the Martin Luther King Papers Project, a long-term project to edit and publish the papers of Martin Luther...

    . In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 1980. ISBN 0-374-52356-8.
  • Carson, Clayborne; Garrow, David J.; Kovach, Bill; Polsgrove, Carol, eds. Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1941–1963 and Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1963–1973. New York: Library of America
    Library of America
    The Library of America is a nonprofit publisher of classic American literature.- Overview and history :Founded in 1979 with seed money from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, the LoA has published over 200 volumes by a wide range of authors from Mark Twain to Philip...

    , 2003. ISBN 1-931082-28-6 and ISBN 1-931082-29-4.
  • Chandra, Siddharth and Angela Williams-Foster. "The ‘Revolution of Rising Expectations,’ Relative Deprivation, and the Urban Social Disorders of the 1960s: Evidence from State-Level Data." Social Science History, 29(2):299–332, 2005.
  • Fairclough, Adam. To Redeem the Soul of America: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference & Martin Luther King. The University of Georgia Press, 1987.
  • Doner, Eric
    Eric Foner
    Eric Foner is an American historian. On the faculty of the Department of History at Columbia University since 1982, he writes extensively on political history, the history of freedom, the early history of the Republican Party, African American biography, Reconstruction, and historiography...

     and Joshua Brown, Forever Free: The Story of Emancipation and Reconstruction. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2005. p. 225–238. ISBN 978-0-375-70274-7
  • Garrow, David J
    David Garrow
    David J. Garrow is an American historian and author of the book Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. He is also the author of Liberty and Sexuality, a history of the legal struggles over...

    . Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. 800 pages. New York: William Morrow, 1986. ISBN 0-688-04794-7.
  • Garrow, David J. The FBI and Martin Luther King. New York: W.W. Norton. 1981. Viking Press Reprint edition. 1983. ISBN 0-14-006486-9. Yale University Press; Revised and Expanded edition. 2006. ISBN 0-300-08731-4.
  • Greene, Christina. Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham. North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.
  • Holsaert, Faith (and 5 others) Hands on the Freedom Plow Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC. University of Illinois Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-252-03557-9.
  • Horne, Gerald. The Fire This Time: The Watts Uprising and the 1960s. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. 1995. Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press ed edition. October 1, 1997. ISBN 0-306-80792-0
  • Kirk, John A. Martin Luther King, Jr.. London: Longman, 2005. ISBN 0-582-41431-8
  • Kirk, John A. Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940–1970. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8130-2496-X
  • Kousser, J. Morgan, "The Supreme Court And The Undoing of the Second Reconstruction," National Forum, (Spring 2000).
  • Kryn, Randy. "James L. Bevel, The Strategist of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement", 1984 paper with 1988 addendum, printed in "We Shall Overcome, Volume II" edited by David Garrow, New York: Carlson Publishing Co., 1989.
  • Malcolm X (with the assistance of Alex Haley
    Alex Haley
    Alexander Murray Palmer Haley was an African-American writer. He is best known as the author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family and the coauthor of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.-Early life:...

    ). The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination...

    .
    New York: Random House, 1965. Paperback ISBN 0-345-35068-5. Hardcover ISBN 0-345-37975-6.
  • Marable, Manning
    Manning Marable
    William Manning Marable was an American professor of public affairs, history and African-American Studies at Columbia University. Marable founded and directed the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. Marable authored several texts and was active in progressive political causes...

    . Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945–1982. 249 pages. University Press of Mississippi, 1984. ISBN 0-87805-225-9.
  • McAdam, Doug
    Doug McAdam
    Doug McAdam is Professor of Sociology at Stanford University. He is the author or co-author of over a dozen books and over fifty articles, and is widely credited as one of the pioneers of the political process model in social movement analysis. He wrote one of the first books on the theory in 1982...

    . Political Process and the Development of Black Insurgency, 1930–1970, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1982.
  • McAdam, Doug
    Doug McAdam
    Doug McAdam is Professor of Sociology at Stanford University. He is the author or co-author of over a dozen books and over fifty articles, and is widely credited as one of the pioneers of the political process model in social movement analysis. He wrote one of the first books on the theory in 1982...

    , 'The US Civil Rights Movement: Power from Below and Above, 1945-70', in Adam Roberts
    Adam Roberts (scholar)
    Sir Adam Roberts, KCMG, FBA is President of the British Academy , the UK's national academy for the humanities and social sciences...

     and Timothy Garton Ash
    Timothy Garton Ash
    Timothy Garton Ash is a British historian, author and commentator. He is currently serving as Professor of European Studies at Oxford University. Much of his work has been concerned with the late modern and contemporary history of Central and Eastern Europe...

     (eds.), Civil Resistance and Power Politics: The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-955201-6.
  • Minchin, Timothy J. Hiring the Black Worker: The Racial Integration of the Southern Textile Industry, 1960–1980. University of North Carolina Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8078-2470-4.
  • Morris, Aldon D. The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement: Black Communities Organizing for Change. New York: The Free Press, 1984. ISBN 0-02-922130-7
  • Sokol, Jason.
    Jason Sokol
    Jason Sokol is an American historian and a visiting professor at Cornell University's Department of History.Sokol has published many articles, including the most recent: Past Imperfect in American Prospect...

     There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945–1975
    There Goes My Everything (book)
    There Goes My Everything: White Southerners in the Age of Civil Rights, 1945-1975 is the first book by historian and professor Jason Sokol, released August 22, 2006.-See also:*American Civil Rights Movement...

    . New York: Knopf, 2006.
  • Payne, Charles M. I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
  • Patterson, James T. Brown v. Board of Education, a Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy. Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-19-515632-3
  • Raiford, Leigh. Imprisoned in a Luminous Glare: Photography and the African American Freedom Struggle. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2011.
  • Ransby, Barbara. Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, a Radical Democratic Vision. The University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
  • Tsesis, Alexander. We Shall Overcome: A History of Civil Rights and the Law. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-300-11837-7
  • Williams, Juan
    Juan Williams
    Juan Williams is an American journalist and political analyst for Fox News Channel, he was born in Panama on April 10, 1954. He also writes for several newspapers including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal and has been published in magazines such as The Atlantic...

    . Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954–1965. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN 0-14-009653-1
  • Westheider, James Edward. "My Fear is for You": African Americans, Racism, and the Vietnam War. University of Cincinnati, 1993.
  • Woodward, C. Vann. The Strange Career of Jim Crow. Third Revised Edition. 1955; Oxford University Press, 1974. ISBN 0-19-501805-2

External links