Civil Rights

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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Malcolm X

Malcolm X

b.1925–d.1965. Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, NB, Malcolm was the son of a Baptist preacher who was a follower of Marcus Garvey. After the Ku Klux Klan made threats against his father, the family moved to Lansing, Michigan. There, in the face of similar threats, he continued to urge blacks to take control of their lives.

Malcolm’s father was slain by the Klan-like Black Legionaries. Although he was found with his head crushed on one side and almost severed from his body, it was claimed he had committed suicide, and the family was denied his death benefit.  Continue reading

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali

Muhammed Ali was born Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. From 1956-60, Clay fought as an amateur (winning 100 of 108 matches) before becoming the light-heavyweight gold medalist in the 1960 Olympics. Financed by a group of Louisville businessmen, he turned professional and by 1963 had won his first 19 fights. In 1964 he won the world heavyweight championship with a stunning defeat of Sonny Liston. Immediately afterwards, Clay announced that he was a Black Muslim and had changed his name to Muhammad Ali.

In 1967, after defending the championship nine times within two years, Ali was stripped of his title for refusing induction into the U.S. Army based on religious grounds. His action earned him both respect and anger from different quarters, but he did not box for three and one-half years until, in 1971, he lost to Joe Frazier.

A few months later, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed his right to object to military service on religious grounds and Ali regained the title in 1974 by knocking out George Foreman in Zaire, Africa. Ali defended his title 10 times before losing to Leon Spinks in 1978. When he defeated Spinks later that same year, he became the first boxer ever to regain the championship twice.  Continue reading

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

South Africa’s First Black President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (7/18/1918 – 12/5/2013) was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the first black South African to hold the office, and the first elected in a fully representative election.

His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid through tackling institutionalised racism, poverty and inequality, and fostering racial reconciliation. Politically an African nationalist and democratic socialist, he served as President of the African National Congress (ANC) from 1991 to 1997. Internationally, Mandela was Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1998 to 1999.  Continue reading

Upcoming Black History Posts
  • Martin R. Delany
  • Dr. Percy Lavon Julian
  • Segregation in buses and terminals banned
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • National Council of Negro women
  • William Tucker
  • Lena Horne
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