Civil Rights

Selma Freedom March

A march to protest at the intimidation which prevented blacks from voting in Dallas County, Alabama. Selma, a city of 29,000, had 15,000 blacks of voting age, of whom only 355 were registered to vote. Martin Luther king chose Selma as he thought whites would resist violently and that this (through television) would draw attention to his cause and force the government to act.

Sheriff Jim Clark, like ‘Bull’ Connor in the Birmingham demonstrations of 1963, was expected to overreact, which he did. King decided to lead a protest march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, 56 miles away, where the participants would petition Governor Wallace to protect blacks who wanted to register to vote. Continue reading

Fair Employment Practices Committee

On June 25, 1941, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC). The order banned racial discrimination in any defense industry receiving federal contracts by declaring “there shall be no discrimination in the employment of workers in defense industries or government because of race, creed, color, or national origin.” The order also empowered the FEPC to investigate complaints and take action against alleged employment discrimination. Continue reading

Segregation in buses and terminals banned

The beginning of the desegregation of the Greyhound Bus Station waiting rooms in Louisville, KY, took place in 1953 and continued with the activism of Charles Ewbank Tucker, who was a minister, a civil rights activist, and an attorney. The actual challenge began in December of 1953 when William Woodsnell took a seat in the white waiting area of the Louisville Greyhound Bus Station and refused to move. Woodsnell was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. The next day, Charles E. Tucker, Woodsnell’s attorney, took a seat in the white waiting area of the bus station and no one approached him or asked him to move. The Louisville Greyhound Bus Station was the starting point for segregated waiting rooms for passengers heading south aboard Greyhound buses. Continue reading

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

b.1862 – d.1931. Anti-lynching crusader, journalist, and advocate for racial justice and women’s suffrage. For Wells-Barnett, overcoming racism and halting the violent murder of black men was a central mission among her wide-ranging struggles for justice and human dignity. Born in Mississippi, she was educated at Rust University, actually a high school and industrial school. From 1884 to 1891, she taught in a rural school near Memphis and attended summer classes at Fisk University in Nashville.

A pattern of resistance to racial subordination was set early in Wells’ life. In 1887, she purchased a railroad ticket in Memphis and took a seat in the section reserved for whites. When she refused to move, she was physically thrown off the train. She successfully sued the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad for damages. Upon appeal, however, the Supreme Court of Tennessee reversed the lower court’s ruling.  Continue reading

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin

Bayard Rustin was active in the struggle for human rights and economic Justice for over 50 years Born in 1912, he was reared in West Chester, Pennsylvania where he excelled as a student, athlete and musician. He attended Wilberforce University, Cheyney State College, the City College of New York, and the London School of Economics, earning tuition at odd jobs and singing professionally with Josh White’s Carolinians and Leadbelly.

A Quaker, Mr. Rustin placed his religious conviction above his musical interests, and in 1941 began a long association with the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR). Serving as its Race Relations Secretary, he toured the country conducting Race Relations Institutes designed to facilitate communication and understanding between racial groups.

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