civil-rights

Civil rights march on Washington, D.C.
Photo: Library of Congress
Digital ID ppmsca 03128

Civil Rights Era 

 

African American men and women, along with whites, organized and led the movement at national and local levels. They pursued their goals through legal means, negotiations, petitions, and nonviolent protest demonstrations.

 


  • Abernathy, Ralph D.Rev. Ralph Abernathy continued to lead SCLC until growing tensions over the direction of the organization forced to his resignation in 1977. Later that year he ran unsuccessfully for Congress. Three years later Abernathy became the most prominent civil rights leader to endorse Ronald Reagan for President.
  • American Social Policy in the 1960's and 1970'sAs the decade of the 1960s began, the United States had the “highest mass standard of living” in world history.1 The strong American postwar economy of the late 1940s and 1950s continued into the 1960s.
  • Bethune, Mary McLeodAn educator, organizer, and policy advocate, Bethune became one of the leading civil rights activists of her era. She led a group of African American women to vote after the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (giving women the right to vote).
  • Black Richmond, VA (1934)Significant straws in the wind point to social changes in Black Richmond. The findings of the Negro Welfare Survey, of which Mrs. Guild was director, the new Negro Welfare Council and the coming in of federal relief are outstanding factors in new racial attitudes in this colored city within a city. During 1928 and 1929 a Negro welfare survey was conducted in Richmond by a bi-racial committee, employing a Negro and white staff, under the auspices of the Council of Social Agencies. In itself this was an accomplishment in racial progress, if it be remembered that we are talking about the Capital of the Confederacy. The survey was not the result of sudden realization on the part of the community that almost a third of its population was miserably handicapped in every department of life and holding back the other two thirds. The survey simply represented the vision of a few social workers who needed a practical answer to a perplexing question: What are the priorities in the social problems pressing for attention in Black Richmond?
  • Black Studies in the Department of Labor, 1897-1907At the dawn of the 20th century, when 8.5 million blacks constituted about 12 percent of the population of the United States, according to the distinguished black scholar, William Edward Burghardt (W. E. B.) Du Bois, "not a single first‑grade college in America undertook to give any considerable scientific attention to the American Negro."1 Yet between 1897 and 1903, the Department of Labor, then an agency without Cabinet status and forerunner of the present Bureau of Labor Statistics, published nine investigations, of varying length, importance, and point of view, about the condition of blacks in America.
  • Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Win Over Pullman CompanyThe fight between the new company union and the Brotherhood to secure official recognition from the National Mediation Board began late in 1934. At the direction of the board an election to enable the porters and maids to express their preference was conducted from May 27 to June 27. It resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Brotherhood. Of a total of 8,316 eligible votes, the Brotherhood captured 5,931 and the company union only 1,422. In only three cities, Louisville, Memphis, and Atlanta, did the company union receive a majority of the eligible votes. The Brotherhood won majorities in 25 cities; it also received the overwhelming majority of votes cast by mail. The Brotherhood has already taken steps to initiate negotiations with the Pullman Company. The real fruits of victory will not be realized until a collective agreement is secured, but the chances for such an agreement are excellent.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1875The bill became law on March 1, 1875. The new law required: “That all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable alike to citizens of every race and color, regardless of any previous condition of servitude.”
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964In the 1960s, Americans who knew only the potential of "equal protection of the laws" expected the president, the Congress, and the courts to fulfill the promise of the 14th Amendment. In response, all three branches of the federal government--as well as the public at large--debated a fundamental constitutional question: Does the Constitution's prohibition of denying equal protection always ban the use of racial, ethnic, or gender criteria in an attempt to bring social justice and social benefits?In 1964 Congress passed Public Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241). The provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race in hiring, promoting, and firing.
  • Civil Rights MovementAlthough the roots of the civil rights movement go back to the 19th century, the movement peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. African American men and women, along with whites, organized and led the movement at national and local levels. They pursued their goals through legal means, negotiations, petitions, and nonviolent protest demonstrations.
  • Congress of Racial EqualityThe Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) pioneered direct nonviolent action in the 1940s before playing a major part in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Founded by an interracial group of pacifists at the University of Chicago in 1942, CORE used nonviolent tactics to challenge segregation in Northern cities during the 1940s. Members staged sit-ins at Chicago area restaurants and challenged restrictive housing covenants. Early expansion beyond the University of Chicago brought students from across the Midwest into the organization, and whites made up a majority of the membership into the early 1960s.
  • Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)The Congress of Racial Equality pioneered direct nonviolent action in the 1940s before playing a major part in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Founded by an interracial group of pacifists at the University of Chicago in 1942, CORE used nonviolent tactics to challenge segregation in Northern cities during the 1940s.
  • Douglass, FrederickDouglass’s life spanned important decades of American history in which the contradictions of race, class and gender were debated. Douglass played a crucial role in those debates. He spoke out against Northern race prejudice as well as Southern slavery. He challenged segregated Sabbaths--either white or black and criticized the race prejudice of immigrant labor organizations which excluded black freemen. Douglass once remarked that his son could more easily become an apprentice in a Boston law firm than in any workingman’s organization.
  • DuBois, W.E.B. (1868-1963)Du Bois was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) — the largest and oldest civil rights organization in America. Throughout his life Du Bois fought discrimination and racism. He made significant contributions to debates about race, politics, and history in the United States in the first half of the 20th century, primarily through his writing and impassioned speaking on race relations.
  • Egypt, Ophelia Settle (1903-1984)In the late 1920s, Ophelia Settle Egypt conducted some of the first and finest interviews with former slaves, setting the stage for the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) massive project ten years later. Born Ophelia Settle in 1903, she was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a researcher for the black sociologist Charles Johnson at Fisk University in Nashville.
  • Emancipation Proclamation: January 1st, 1863Lincoln first proposed the idea of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet in the summer of 1862 as a war measure to cripple the Confederacy. Lincoln surmised that if the slaves in the Southern states were freed, then the Confederacy could no longer use them as laborers to support the army in the field, thus hindering the effectiveness of the Confederate war effort. As an astute politician, however, Lincoln needed to prove that the Union government could enforce the Proclamation and protect the freed slaves. On September 22, 1862, following the Union “victory” at the Battle of Antietam, the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued...
  • Family Life Of The Negro In The Small Town-- 1926Even the briefest account of the family life of the Negro must include a consideration of the history back of the present Negro family. This history naturally divides itself into three periods: Africa, slavery, and freedom. While the African period, it must be remembered, does not claim our attention because an unbroken social tradition still affects the present formation of the Negro family -although traces of the African tradition were detected in marriage ceremonies near the opening of the present century —it is necessary to call attention to this period because of subsequent events. In Africa the Negro lived under regulated sex relations which were adapted to his social and physical environment. It was through the destruction in America of these institutionalized sex relations that slavery was able to bring about complete subordination.
  • Farmer, JamesOn one tense occasion in the early 1960's, after a particularly vicious spate of violence, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy suggested that Farmer's followers postpone some of their "freedom rides" -- designed to desegregate the interstate bus system in the South -- so that everyone could "cool off." Farmer refused, saying, "We have been cooling off for 350 years." ... As the turbulent decade of the 1960's unfolded, some blacks who despaired that they would ever have an amicable relationship with the white majority and regarded nonviolence as more of a weakness than a strength, on occasion would ask Farmer, "When are you going to fight back?" Farmer would always reply, "We are fighting back, we're only using new weapons."
  • Farmville Protests of 1963In Virginia, the state government was staunch in its refusal to allow school integration. Initiated by Senator Harry F. Byrd, the policy of Massive Resistance took hold strongly, and the state fought tooth and nail against school integration. By 1958, all of the laws Massive Resistance advocates had used to keep schools segregated were struck down as unconstitutional by Virginia courts, and to circumvent the courts, several public school systems closed entirely in 1959 rather than integrate....But in Prince Edward County and its county seat of Farmville, public schools remained closed until 1964, when the U.S. Supreme Court found that the county was violating the Equal Protection Clause by keeping schools closed.
  • Frazier, Edward FranklinIn Frazier’s view professional social work included speaking out on major issues of the day rather than going along with the status quo. His social work activism went hand-in-hand with his activism and contributions to the black movement in the 1920s. He opposed U.S. participation in World War I because he felt it was hypocritical given the racial discrimination in the United States, and he was also arrested for protesting the movie "Birth of a Nation."
  • Freedom: Promise of Fact: 1943In a comparatively short period of time the slaves have become free men—free men, that is, as far as a proclamation can make them so. There now remains much work to be done to see that freedom becomes a fact and not just a promise for my people. Eleanor Roosevelt, an article in the Negro Digest, 1943.
  • Garvey, MarcusMarcus Mosiah Garvey (1887-1940), one of the most influential 20th Century black nationalist and Pan-Africanist leaders, was born on August 17, 1887 in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Greatly influenced by Booker T. Washington's autobiography Up From Slavery, Garvey began to support industrial education, economic separatism, and social segregation as strategies that would enable the assent of the “black race.” In 1914, Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Kingston, Jamaica, adopting Washington’s inspirational phrase “Up, you mighty race; you can conquer what you will.”
  • Granger, Lester B.Lester Blackwell Granger introduced civil rights to the social work agenda as a national and international issue. He focused attention and advocacy energy on the goal of equal opportunity and justice for all people of color, even while focusing on the condition of black people in the United States. He is credited with leading the development of unions among black workers as well as integrating white unions. He led the integration of black workers in defense industries and the beginnings of racial integration in the military services during World War II.
  • Harlem: Dark Weather-VaneThe Harlem riot of 1935, now the subject of a comprehensive report, demonstrated that "the Negro is not merely the man who shouldn't be forgotten; he is the man who cannot safely be ignored." Alain Locke, early interpreter of the New Harlem in a special issue of Survey Graphic, here pictures the Harlem of hard times
  • Haynes, Elizabeth RossIn the early twentieth century Progressive era reformers largely ignored the needs of African American women. Lacking settlement houses and other resources African American reformers such as Elizabeth Ross Haynes turned to one of the few institutions available to them, the YWCA.
  • Haynes, George Edmund (1880 - 1960)Southern segregation policies were granted legitimacy by the Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. The alternatives for former slaves were limited. They could work for white farmers as tenants or sharecroppers, barely a step above slavery, or they could leave the South. Many opted to migrate and moved north to find a better life. Two people stepped forward at this time to provide leadership and help build an organization dedicated to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream – one Negro, one white; one man, one woman – and together, they founded the National Urban League.
  • Height, Dorothy IreneDr. Height held many positions in government and social service organizations, but she is best known for her leadership roles in the Young Womens Christian Association (YWCA), and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).
  • Hughes, LangstonHughes deeply believed that black art should represent the experiences and culture of the black “folk.” Images of rural and urban working-class African Americans filled his poetry and prose and his writing celebrated blues and jazz culture. Some of his more famous writing associated with the Harlem Renaissance include the collections of poems, The Weary Blues (1926) and Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927); the novel Not Without Laughter (1930); and the essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926).
  • Hunter, Jane EdnaHunter graduated in 1905 as a trained nurse from Hampton Institute, VA, and migrated to Cleveland Ohio, arriving in 1905 as a 23 year old single African American woman. When she arrived in Cleveland she could not find decent housing or professional work because of segregation laws and practices. Her first housing was a place where prostitutes lived. With With the help of other women and $1,500, she first opened the Working Girls Home Association, a boarding home for 10 women at East 40th, north of Central Avenue.
  • Jim Crow Laws and Racial SegregationFollowing the end of the Civil War and adoption of the 13th Amendment, white southerners were not happy with the end of slavery and the prospect of living or working “equally” with blacks whom they considered inferior. To try and maintain the status quo, the majority of states and local communities passed “Jim Crow” laws that mandated “separate but equal" status for African Americans.
  • Johnson, Cernoria M.Cernoria Johnson was the director of the Washington office of the National Urban League from the late 1950's to the early 1970's where she was a close colleague of Whitney Young. During her years with the Urban League, she was involved with the development and passage of the Great Society legislation and she served on the first advisory committee to the Medicaid Program enacted in 1965.
  • King, Rev. Martin Luther, Jr.In 1963, Dr. King led a massive civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Ala., and organized drives for black voter registration, desegregation, and better education and housing throughout the South. During these nonviolent campaigns he was arrested several times, generating newspaper headlines throughout the world. In June, President John F. Kennedy reacted to the Birmingham protests by submitting broad civil rights legislation to Congress. Dr. King was the final speaker at the historic March on Washington DC (August 28, 1963), where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In June the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Also in 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation (1775)Dunmore’s proclamation offered freedom only to those who would flee from rebel masters and serve the crown. Its purpose was strategic, to disable rebellion, rather than humanitarian, yet its effect was rather the reverse. White southerner colonists swung to oppose royal authority as it appeared that Dunmore and his “Damned, infernal, Diabolical” proclamation were inciting slave insurrection: nothing, it can be argued, so quickly lost the South for the crown. British officialdom, however, never repudiated the proclamation’s message and soon established an alliance with black Americans that brought thousands of escaped southern slaves to the side of the British forces operating in the south.
  • March on Washington, D.C. August 28, 1963On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people from across the nation came together in Washington, D.C. to peacefully demonstrate their support for the passage of a meaningful civil rights bill, an end to racial segregation in schools and the creation of jobs for the unemployed.
  • March on Washington, D.C.: Rev. King's "I Have a Dream" SpeechOn August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people from across the nation came together in Washington, D.C. to peacefully demonstrate their support for the passage of a meaningful civil rights bill, an end to racial segregation in schools and the creation of jobs for the unemployed. It was the largest demonstration ever held in the nation’s capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage. The march is remembered too as the occasion for Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
  • March on Washington, DC: Final Organization PlansOriginal documents prepared for the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom
  • March on Washington, DC: Lincoln Memorial ProgramOriginal documents for the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom
  • Marshall, ThurgoodMarshall’s most famous case was the legal challenge on behalf of Linda Brown and twelve other plaintiffs that would result in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. Here the high court struck down an earlier Supreme Court's 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, declaring that “separate but equal” public education was unconstitutional. Numerous legal scholars contend that this ruling was one of the most important and far reaching in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and of the nation.
  • Matthews, Victoria Earle (1861-1907)In civic areas, Mrs. Matthews founded the Woman’s Loyal Union in 1892. She was also one of the leaders in supporting the anti-lynching crusade of Ida B. Wells. In 1895 Matthews helped found the National Federation of Afro-American Women and was later instrumental when this organization and the National Colored Women’s League merged with the National Association of Colored Women (1896). She served as the first national organizer of the combined group from 1897 to 1899.
  • Menace Of Racial And Religious Intolerance (1925)While my calling is not in the line of practical social work, I believe social science and social work should go hand in hand. I have been identified with this body for twenty-five years, for at the beginning of my teaching I joined the National Conference of Charities and Correction, as it was then called, and attended my first meeting in Topeka in I900. Through the twenty-five years that I have been teaching sociology at the University of Missouri I have always stressed the point that social theory is for the sake of social work, that theory is no good without practice; and my department has tried to turn out many practical social workers. Some of them, I am glad to see, are a part of this audience. So I feel myself one of you, and I am going to talk to you straight from the shoulder, face to face.
  • Micheaux, Oscar D. (1884 - 1951)Micheaux sought to create films that would counter white portrayals of African Americans, which tended to emphasize inferior stereotypes. He created complex characters of different classes, and was never interested in simplicity. The themes discussed in Micheaux’s films represented the development of the black voice in mass media. They questioned the value system of both African American and Caucasian communities, while causing problems with the press and state censors. His own life experiences were the basis for much of his work. Growing up in southern Illinois, which had long been influenced by Southern migrants and culture, he learned about some relationships between African Americans and whites, and their misunderstandings.
  • Migration of Negroes Into Northern Cities 1917In the first place, this movement of Negroes, while it is larger and more widespread due to the present unusual conditions, has been going on for the past three or four decades. It may not have attracted as much attention because it was going on quietly and at a slower rate. But there has been a steady stream and the moving causes are the same. An indication-of this fact is the increase of Negro population since.1880 in the following nine northern and border cities: Boston, Greater New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Evansville, Indianapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis. Between 1880 and 1890 the Negro populationof these nine cities increased about 36.2 per cent. From 1890 to 1900 it increased about 74.4 per cent and from 1900 to 1910 about 37.4 per cent.
  • Moskowitz, HenryThe violent mob attack on black residents of Springfield, Illinois in 1908 galvanized a handful of progressive white social activists to reach out to African American leaders. Socialist William English Walling, settlement house worker Mary White Ovington, Jewish social worker Henry Moskowitz, and Oswald Garrison Villard, editor of The Nation, circulated “The Call” to protest the rise of racial violence and discrimination around the nation. They were joined in this venture by black sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois. Long a critic of the “social uplift” agenda advocated by black educator Booker T. Washington, Du Bois saw the NAACP as both an opportunity to re-invigorate demands for full black civil rights and an important reminder of the national dimensions of Jim Crow. After a series of meetings held in 1909 and 1910, the NAACP emerged as an organization dedicated to protesting racial inequality in American public life.
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored PeopleIn its early years, the NAACP concentrated on using the courts to overturn the Jim Crow statutes that legalized racial discrimination. In 1913, the NAACP organized opposition to President Woodrow Wilson's introduction of racial segregation into federal government policy. By 1914, the group had 6,000 members and 50 branches, and was influential in winning the right of African-Americans to serve as officers in World War I. Six hundred African-American officers were commissioned and 700,000 registered for the draft. The following year the NAACP organized a nationwide protest against D.W. Griffith's silent film Birth of a Nation, a film that glamorized the Ku Klux Klan.
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)Over the course of the 20th century, the NAACP explicitly promoted itself as a model of interracial exchange, while also implicitly encouraging activism by both men and women. Initially, formal national leadership positions in the NAACP were largely held by white progressives based in New York City but W. E. B. Du Bois served as editor of the organization’s main source of publicity, The Crisis. This important journal circulated news of civil rights activism and promoted black art, writing, and poetry with the vision of challenging mainstream stereotypes of African Americans.
  • National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. (1896 - )The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc. (NACWC), was established in July 1896 as a merger between the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women. The merger enabled the NACWC to function as a national umbrella group for local and regional Black women’s organizations.
  • Negro Wage Earners and Trade UnionsThe President of the American Federation of Labor ventures some advice to Negro workers and their role in the present crisis (1934). --The Editor of Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life Published by the National Urban League
  • Negro Workers and Recovery: 1934For many months in the midst of the depression, Negroes saw all municipal work in building trades turned over to white union workers who steadfastly refused to allow a Negro mechanic to work with them. In the 17 Negro schools of the city, no Negro was allowed to earn a single dime on building or repair work. Representation to and conferences with city and union officials brought only evasive rejoinders and no action. Finally, the Negroes' patience snapped at sight of a $2,000,000 colored hospital being erected in the middle of their own neighborhood, built with municipal and Federal funds, with no Negro carpenters, bricklayers, painters, or other skilled workers, allowed on the job. Out of this resentment, guided and advised by the St. Louis Urban League, grew a Negro labor organization of building trades workers whose avowed aim was to protect the interests of Negro workers under the recovery program.
  • Next Steps In Interracial Relations: 1944Every American who is worthy of the title "citizen" has carried a deep sense of shame and a feeling of almost personal responsibility for what happened in 1943 in New York City, Los Angeles, Beaumont, Mobile, and Detroit. Those bloody and costly riots were warnings of how far this nation still has to go in order to develop the single-minded purpose and the well-disciplined unity that are needed to win this war. It is possible mathematically to calculate the loss of man-hours of labor, of war materials, and of property caused by those riots. It will never be possible, however, to calculate the more severe loss of confidence by American citizens in their government and the loss of trust and cooperation between white and Negro Americans who should be working and planning together, wholeheartedly, for victory.
  • Niagara Movement (1905-1909)The Niagara Movement was a civil rights group organized by W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter in 1905. After being denied admittance to hotels in Buffalo, New York, the group of 29 business owners, teachers, and clergy who comprised the initial meeting gathered at Niagara Falls, from which the group’s name derives.
  • Obtaining Civil Rights In Baltimore 1946-1960Looking at the events as a whole there is no pattern in the changes. The differential pace of overcoming obstruction to change for the better continued even in circumstances where it was ordered by court action. As has been already noted, in 1947 the Baltimore School System received the Hollander award for promoting integration in the schools...
  • Oswald Villard, the NAACP and The Nation Journal
  • Ovington, Mary WhiteInfluenced by the ideas of William Morris, Ovington joined the Republican Party in 1905, but was a self declared Liberal as many Republicans were at that time, where she met people including Daniel De Leon, Asa Philip Randolph, Floyd Dell, Max Eastman and Jack London, who argued that racial problems were as much a matter of class as of race. She wrote for radical journals and newspapers such as The Masses, New York Evening Post and the New York Call. She also worked with Ray Stannard Baker and influenced the content of his book, "Following the Color Line," published in 1908.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)The Plessy decision legitimized segregation practices begun earlier in the South and provided a legal framework for additional segregation laws throughout the rest of the nation. As a consequence of the Plessy decision, many of the rights blacks won at both the state and federal level during the Reconstruction Era were erased through means of the "separate but equal" doctrine. Despite the Supreme Court’s faith in “separate but equal,” Southern state governments refused to provide blacks with genuinely equal facilities and resources in the decades following the Plessy decision.
  • Plessy, Homer A.Homer A. Plessy was the plaintiff in the middle of the 1896 Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the concept of "separate but equal" in U.S. law which then opened the door even wider for legal segregation, commonly known as "Jim Crow" laws.
  • Powell, Adam ClaytonDuring the Great Depression, Powell developed a reputation as a fearless Harlem community activist. He successfully organized and led peaceful boycotts to force white businesses in Harlem to hire blacks for management and professional positions. He was also an outspoken advocate for fair and affordable housing.
  • President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC)By the end of WWII, African Americans accounted for almost eight percent of defense-industry jobs, and the number of Black Americans working for the federal government more than tripled. While the FEPC was charged with investigating discrimination, job bias continued. Often, when African Americans were hired, they were segregated within the defense industry, paid less than their white counterparts, and restricted in their ability to join and participate in unions.
  • Prince Edward County, VA School ClosingsIn 1959 Shirley turned 6 years old. Her excitement grew as fall approached because she would be going to school for the first time. What she didn't understand was that 1959 was to be different. The US Federal Court had ordered Prince Edward County, Virginia, where Shirley lived, to desegregate its schools. And the county school board, rather than integrate their system as ordered, closed all the public schools.
  • Principles of The Universal Negro Improvement Association (Marcus Garvey, 1922)We of the Universal Negro Improvement Association are determined to unite the 400,000,000 Negroes of the world to give expression to their own feeling; we are determined to unite the 400,000,000 Negroes of the world for the purpose of building a civilization of their own. And in that effort we desire to bring together the 15,000,000 of the United States, the 180,000,000 in Asia, the West Indies and Central and South America, and the 200,000,000 in Africa. We are looking toward political freedom on the continent of Africa, the land of our fathers.
  • Program of Work for the Assimilation Of Negro Immigrants In Northern Cities (1917)The first prerequisite in the task of organizing a local community for the absorption of a large new population of negro citizens is the establishment of a vocational bureau. In the past, when labor agencies brought the majority of negroes who came North, the problem of employment was simple. They were assured of jobs before they arrived. But now the majority of immigrants come without such inducement. They come in larger numbers and at all times of the year, when the demand for labor is strong and when it is slack. This situation is fraught with danger because in a few days idling about the city in search of a job the immigrant may come into contact with conditions and people whose influence is demoralizing and may destroy his chance of ever becoming a useful citizen.
  • Race, Religion and Prejudice (1942)Over and over again, I have stressed the rights of every citizen:Equality before the law. Equality of education. Equality to hold a job according to his ability. Equality of participation through the ballot in the government.
  • Randolph, A. PhillipA. Philip Randolph brought the gospel of trade unionism to millions of African American households. Randolph led a 10-year drive to organize the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) and served as the organization's first president. Randolph directed the March on Washington movement to end employment discrimination in the defense industry and a national civil disobedience campaign to ban segregation in the armed forces. The nonviolent protest and mass action effort inspired the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Robeson, PaulPaul Robeson is best known as a world famous athlete, singer, actor, and advocate for the human rights of people throughout the world. Over the course of his career Robeson combined all of these activities into a lifelong quest for racial justice.
  • Rustin, Bayard (1912-1987) Bayard Rustin served the trade union and civil rights movements as a brilliant theorist, tactician and organizer. He conceived the coalition of liberal, labor and religious leaders who supported passage of the civil rights and anti-poverty legislation of the 1960s and, as the first executive director of the AFL-CIO's A. Philip Randolph Institute, he worked closely with the labor movement to ensure African American workers' rightful place in the House of Labor.
  • Rustin, Bayard: Master OrganizerIn 1956, he took leave from the League to advise Martin Luther King on non-violent tactics during the Montgomery bus boycott. When the pacifist Rustin first met King, he slept with a pistol under his pillow and had armed guards. He who introduced him to pacifism and non-violent tactics. In 1957, he and King started to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Given his political and sexual past, other black leaders, especially Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, forced him to resign.While Rustin did not have to resign from his role in organizing King’s 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, A. Phillip Randolph got the up-front publicity. In putting the march together, Rustin was known for paying meticulous attention to every detail and for seeming to be everywhere at once. He was the engine that made it go.
  • Schools for a MinorityTo Americans north and south this Alabama journalist presents the picture of race discrimination in education—a failure of democracy with economic, social and political repercussions throughout our national life.
  • Scottsboro Boys, Trial and Defense Campaign (1931–1937)On March 25, 1931, nine unemployed young black men, illegally riding the rails and looking for work, were taken off a freight train at Scottsboro, Alabama and held on a minor charge. The Scottsboro deputies found two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, and pressured them into accusing the nine youths of raping them on board the train.
  • Shuttlesworth, Rev. FredAs Birmingham goes, so goes the nation. That belief was the driving force behind Shuttlesworth's crusade for equality."He was the soul and heart of the Birmingham movement," Georgia Rep. John Lewis said. It was Birmingham, he said, that brought the Civil Rights Act of 1964."Fred Shuttlesworth had the vision, the determination never to give up, never to give in," Lewis said. "He led an unbelievable children's crusade. It was the children who faced dogs, fire hoses, police billy clubs that moved and shook the nation."
  • Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)SCLC is a now a nation wide organization made up of chapters and affiliates with programs that affect the lives of all Americans: north, south, east and west. Its sphere of influence and interests has become international in scope because the human rights movement transcends national boundaries.
  • Springfield Race Riot of 1908On the evening of August 14, 1908, a race war broke out in the Illinois capital of Springfield. Angry over reports that a black man had sexually assaulted a white woman, a white mob wanted to take a recently arrested suspect from the city jail and kill him....In the early hours of the violence, as many as five thousand white Springfield residents were present, mostly as spectators. Still angry, the rioters minus most of the spectators next methodically destroyed a small black business district downtown, breaking windows and doors, stealing or destroying merchandise, and wrecking furniture and equipment. The mob's third and last effort that night was to destroy a nearby poor black neighborhood called the Badlands. Most blacks had fled the city, but as the mob swept through the area, they captured and lynched a black barber, Scott Burton, who had stayed behind to protect his home.
  • Stewart, Maria MillerMaria W. Stewart (1803-1880) was one of the first American women to leave copies of her speeches. The address below is her second public lecture. It was given on September 21, 1832 in Franklin Hall in Boston, the meeting site of the new England Anti-Slavery Society. Although as an abolitionist, she usually attacked slavery, in this address she condemns the attitude that denied black women education and prohibited their occupational advancement. In fact she argues that Northern African American women, in term of treatment, were only slightly better off than slaves.
  • Suffrage in the South Part II: The One Party SystemIn a sequel to his study of the poll tax, this young southern writer further analyzes democracy in Dixie. His findings and his conclusions, carefully checked by southern researchers, are especially significant in this year of national elections.
  • Suffrage in the South: The Poll TaxIn the South, two thirds of the voting population are barred from the polls by a head tax which is a prerequisite to voting. What this "one third democracy for one sixth of the nation" means to the Democratic party, to the nation, and to the issues of the 1940 elections are revealed in the staggering facts and figures here presented in the first of two articles by a young southern writer.
  • Terrell, Mary ChurchMary Church Terrell developed greater public speaking skills which were commonly employed in addressing crowds about the progress of “colored” women, the inaccuracy of racial stereotypes, and the brutality which lynching and other practices posed against blacks. Her connection to black leaders expanded, and W.E.B. Dubois as well as Booker T. Washington invited her to their schools’ respective commencements. When Mary’s husband was appointed a judge with great controversy, some suggested that Booker T. Washington had used his influence to help secure the position for him. In 1909, Terrell became a charter member of the NAACP at a time when many declined due to fear of losing their jobs.
  • That Work-Relief BillBEFORE this article appears the President's much-discussed Work-Relief Bill may have reached a compromise satisfactory enough at least to insure its passing through a faction-torn Congress. This will not, however, put an end to the vital interest with which Negroes, in common with all workers, should scrutinize the provisions of the bill. Assuming that the President is sincere in his announced intention of taking this country "out of the business of relief," then the manner of his so doing will certainly concern very deeply the dark-skinned workers who form more than one-fifth of the nation's jobless.
  • The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil WarBy the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers. Black women, who could not formally join the Army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts, the most famous being Harriet Tubman, who scouted for the 2d South Carolina Volunteers.
  • The Maid Narratives The stories personalize the sufferings by these southern black women who worked as young children in the cotton fields and who managed somehow to raise their children and protect their men folk in a racially hostile environment. The economic oppression they endured was echoed by legal constraints that always favored the dominant race at their expense. The norms of segregation, as the book explains, were enforced by white men bent on suppressing black men and keeping them away from their women. At the same time, these men had access to black women, a fact of which they often took advantage. The term segregation to the extent that it means separation of the races does not really apply. In any case, the social system that evolved following slavery. Consider the tremendous legal battles that ensued to keep the races separate in the schools and universities.
  • The Negro and Relief - Part IThis practice of the displacement of Negro labor by white labor began even before the depression. The Negro felt its effect as early as 1927. From the very beginning it has been stimulated by outside forces. For instance, an organization called the Blue Shirts was set up in Jacksonville, Florida, about 1926 for the express purpose of replacing Negroes in employment with white men. An organization called the Black Shirts was formed at Atlanta, Georgia, late in 1927 for the same purpose. The Black Shirts, whose regalia consisted chiefly of black shirts and black neckties, published a daily newspaper. They frequently held night parades in which were carried such signs as "Employ white man and let 'Niggers' go"; "Thousands of white families are starving to death-what is the reason?"; and "Send 'Niggers' back to the farms."
  • The Negro and Relief: Part IIAbout the only source to which the Negro can look for real aid today is the United States government. Experience has shown that local authorities cannot be trusted to administer equably government funds in many sections of the country so far as Negroes are concerned. I am satisfied that the national administration is eminently fair and wants to reach out and see the benefits of its recovery program extended to every citizen, but this ideal is neutralized in many local communities. On the other hand, one does not need to argue for complete centralized control by the federal government, but rather for a degree of protection for a group which experience has proved suffers at the hands of local administrators.
  • The Negro and Social Change"...No right-thinking person in this country today who picks up a paper and reads that in some part of the country the people have not been willing to wait for the due processes of law, but have gone back to the rule of force, blind and unjust as force and fear usually are, can help but be ashamed that we have shown such a lack of faith in our own institutions. It is a horrible thing which grows out of weakness and fear, and not out of strength and courage; and the sooner we as a nation unite to stamp out any such action, the sooner and the better will we be able to face the other nations of the world and to uphold our real ideals here and abroad...."
  • The TVA and the Race ProblemWhen the civil service examinations were first given by the TVA in the twelve counties round about Norris, only 1.9 per cent of those who qualified for jobs were Negroes. In these same twelve counties Negroes comprise exactly 7.1 per cent of the total population. Thus it looked as though colored labor was to suffer. TVA authorities insisted that they were helpless to rectify matters since they were compelled to choose their employees from among the people who had qualified by examination. Negro leaders claimed, however, that the reason so small a proportion of their population had qualified was that they had either not even been told of the examinations or else had been given to understand by the native whites that there was no need for them to apply since the whole project was for the advantage of the white man. There were some facts which lent credibility to this charge. For example, TVA authorities did not, and still do not, plan to use any Negro labor on the building of the Norris Dam itself....
  • The Urban League and the A.F. of L.It is unnecessary to repeat in detail a recital of the various types of discrimination which Negroes suffer when they attempt to join the organized labor movement. It is sufficient to say that experiences of the past several years are conclusive proof that the liberal position taken by the American Federation of Labor and by a few enlightened and progressive unions has not been effective in decreasing appreciably the organized resistance in many internationals and numerous locals against the full participation of Negro membership.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965President Johnson signed the resulting legislation into law on August 6, 1965. Section 2 of the Act, which closely followed the language of the 15th amendment, applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on the literacy tests on a nationwide basis. Among its other provisions, the Act contained special enforcement provisions targeted at those areas of the country where Congress believed the potential for discrimination to be the greatest.
  • The Women Who Went to the Field - A Poem
  • Three Notable African American Women in Early Child WelfareFor the most part, social welfare history has focused on efforts to protect dependent and delinquent white immigrant children. Information on the care of African American children has been excluded. Because of racial separation and discrimination, information describing the care of African American children has often been left out.
  • Towne, Laura MatildaIn 1861, the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina fell to the Union army. Faced with defeat, the entire white population fled, leaving their homes, belongings, and ten thousand slaves. Towne arrived on the Sea Islands in April 1862, one of the first Northern women to go south to work during the Civil War. She participated in the Port Royal Experiment, the first large-scale government effort to help former slaves. The teachers who went south sought not only to teach the freedmen how to read and write, but hoped to help them develop socially and morally. They saw themselves as missionaries who would "bring the light of God's truth" to people they assumed were in need of such enlightenment.
  • Tuskegee Syphilis ExperimentDoctors working with the Public Health Service (PHS) commenced a multi-year experiment in 1932. Their actions deprived 400 largely uneducated and poor African Americans in Tuskegee, Alabama of proper and reasonable treatment for syphilis, a disease whose symptoms could easily have been relieved with the application of penicillin which became available in the 1940s. Patients were not told they had syphilis nor were they provided sufficient medication to cure them. More than 100 men died due to lack of treatment while others suffered insanity, blindness and chronic maladies related to the disease.
  • Universal Negro Improvement AssociationOn July 20, 1914, Marcus Garvey, at the age of twenty-eight, founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.). His co-founder was Amy Ashwood, who would later become his first wife. The U.N.I.A. was originally conceived as a benevolent or fraternal reform association dedicated to racial uplift and the establishment of educational and industrial opportunities for blacks, taking Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute as a model. The U.N.I.A. floundered in Jamaica. But shortly after Garvey's relocation to Harlem in 1916, New York became the headquarters of the movement. The Harlem branch started with 17 members meeting in a dingy basement. But by the spring of 1918, Garvey's strong advocacy of black economic and political independence had taken hold, and U.N.I.A. branches and divisions were springing up in cities and towns across the country, and then in different parts of the world. By 1920 Garvey claimed nearly a thousand local divisions in the United States, the Caribbean, Central America, Canada and Africa.
  • Urbanization And The Negro: 1933It is a significant fact that while there was a distinct loss in both Negro and white rural farm population during the past decade, the land operated by Negroes decreased by 31,835,050 acres, approximately 5,992 square miles (an area slightly larger than the combined land areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island), between 1920 and 1930. At the same time there was a very substantial increase of 34,743,840 acres, or approximately 54,287 square miles for white farm operators.
  • Villard, Oswald Garrison
  • Washington, Forrester BlanchardAlthough Washington repeatedly attempted to persuade the Roosevelt administration that addressing the challenges faced by African Americans went beyond offering direct relief or common labor, he soon discovered that African Americans were not the primary focus of the administration’s political agenda. He did not want to continue on in a role that he felt would only make African Americans dependent on welfare and subsequently resigned from FERA and returned to Atlanta where he felt he could be more effective as he pursued his interests in social justice for African Americans.
  • We Do Our Part--But... (1933)by Ira DeA., Reid, an Article in Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life (September, 1933) "These three million black workers are the backbone of the Negro consumer market. For them there is no immediate rise in wages. For them an immediate rise in prices will mean additional insecurity and suffering. Furthermore, in certain areas where there have been uniform minimum wages established for white and black workers employers have replaced Negroes with whites rather than pay them the same wages."
  • Wells-Barnett, Ida B.Incensed by the murder of her friends, Wells launched an extensive investigation of lynching. In 1892, she published a pamphlet, “Southern Horrors,” which detailed her findings. Through her lectures and books such as A Red Record (1895), Wells countered the “rape myth” used by lynch mobs to justify the murder of African Americans. Through her research she found that lynch victims had challenged white authority or had successfully competed with whites in business or politics. As a result of her outspokenness, a mob destroyed the offices of the Free Speech and threatened to kill Wells.
  • White, Walter F.By 1931 White had become executive secretary, the highest position in the association. During his tenure, the NAACP led the fight for anti-lynching legislation, and initiated trailblazing legal battles to eliminate all-white primaries, poll taxes and de jure segregation....Working with labor leader A. Philip Randolph, White in 1941 helped persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 which prohibited racial discrimination in defense industries and established the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), the first Federal agency to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination measures.
  • Young, Whitney M. JrA noted civil rights leader and statesman, Young worked to eradicate discrimination against blacks and poor people. He served on numerous national boards and advisory committees and received many honorary degrees and awards —including the Medal of Freedom (1969), presented by President Lyndon Johnson—for his outstanding civil rights accomplishments.