Civil Rights

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Montgomery Bus Boycott

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, in which African Americans refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Alabama, to protest segregated seating, took place from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is regarded as the first large-scale demonstration against segregation in the U.S. On December 1, 1955, four days before the boycott began, Rosa Parks, an African-American woman, refused to yield her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus.

She was arrested and fined. The boycott of public buses by blacks in Montgomery began on the day of Parks’ court hearing and lasted 381 days. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ordered Montgomery to integrate its bus system, and one of the leaders of the boycott, a young pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-68), emerged as a prominent national leader of the American civil rights movement in the wake of the action.

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee’s acting career has spanned more than fifty years and has included theater, radio, television, and movies. She has also been active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

Ruby Dee was born Ruby Ann Wallace on October 27, 1924, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her parents, Marshall and Emma Wallace, moved the family to Harlem in New York City when Dee was just a baby. In the evening Dee, her two sisters, and her brother read aloud to each other from the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882), William Wordsworth (1770–1850), and Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872–1906). As a teenager Dee submitted poetry to the New York Amsterdam News, a black weekly newspaper. Later in life, Dee admitted that during those years she was a shy girl but that she always felt a burning desire to express herself.  Continue reading

Homer A. Plessy

Homer Plessy

Homer Plessy

Plaintiff for a landmark Supreme Court case, Homer A. Plessy was born on March 17, 1863 in New Orleans. He was a light-skinned Creole of Color during the post-reconstruction years.

With the aid of the Comité des Citoyens, a black organization in New Orleans, Homer Plessy became the plaintiff in the famous Plessy v. Ferguson case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in May 1896. The decision established the “separate but equal” policy that made racial segregation constitutional for the next six decades.

In order to challenge the 1890 Louisiana statute requiring separate accommodations for whites and blacks, Homer Plessy and the Comité des Citoyens used Plessy’s light skin to their advantage. On June 7, 1892 Plessy bought a first class ticket on the East Louisiana Railway. Continue reading

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on 23rd September, 1863. Both her parents, Robert Church and Louisa Ayers, were both former slaves. Robert was the son of his white master, Charles Church.

During the Memphis race riots in 1866 Mary’s father was shot in the head and left for dead. He survived the attack and eventually became a successful businessman. He speculated in the property market and was considered to be the wealthiest black man in the South.

Mary was an outstanding student and after graduating from Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1884, she taught at a black secondary school in Washington and at Wilberforce College in Ohio. Through her father, Mary met Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington. She was especially close to Douglass and worked with him on several civil rights campaigns.  Continue reading

Julian Bond

Julian Bond

HORACE JULIAN BOND (Jan. 14, 1940 – Aug. 15, 2015), U.S. legislator and black civil-rights leader, best known for his fight to take his duly elected seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.  The son of prominent educators, Bond attended Morehouse College in Atlanta (B.A., 1971), where he helped found a civil-rights group and led a sit-in movement intended to desegregate Atlanta lunch counters.

In 1960 Bond joined in creating the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and he later served as communications director for the group. In 1965 he won a seat in the Georgia state legislature, but his endorsement of a SNCC statement accusing the United States of violating international law in Vietnam prompted the legislature to refuse to admit him.  Continue reading

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