Politics

Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin addresses 1st Nat’l Conference of Colored Women

Josephine Ruffin

 

In 1894 Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin founded the Women’s New Era Club, a charitable organization of sixty prominent black women in Boston. Soon afterwards she began editing its monthly publication, the Women’s Era. Encouraged by the success of the New Era Club and heartened by the rapid growth of similar black women’s groups across the nation, Ruffin organized and convened the first National Conference of Colored Women at the Charles Street A. M. E. Church in Boston in 1895.

While the new organization emphasized its refusal to exclude non-black women, Ruffin nonetheless argued that African American women needed to take the leadership for their own welfare. Two years after the convention met, the National Association of Colored Women was formed with Mary Church Terrell as its first president and Ruffin as editor of the Women’s Era, now the official newspaper for the national organization.

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Voting Rights Act – 1965

Voting Rights Act Signing

On August 6, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law. Forty-seven years later, the U.S. is embroiled in a controversy over Voter ID laws that have been passed in several states, and which critics say could prevent millions of Americans from voting this year. Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson sent out a press statement today, making just that point. The statement read:

“Today, we commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a historic milestone in the Civil Rights Movement. So many people died so that we could have the right to vote. I never thought that in my lifetime we would have to fight again for our Constitutional right to vote. Continue reading

Dr. Matthew Ricketts

Dr. Matthew Ricketts

Dr. Matthew Oliver Ricketts was the political leader of Omaha’s African Americans at the turn of the 20th century. Ricketts was born to an enslaved couple near New Castle, Kentucky in 1858. He later received a degree from Lincoln Institute at Jefferson City, Missouri, and three years later moved to Omaha.

When he arrived in Omaha in 1880, despite scarce resources, he was admitted to Omaha Medical College, where he worked as a janitor to pay his tuition. Elected to the state legislature for the sessions of 1892 and 1894, he became the first Nebraskan of African descent to sit in that body

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer was born October 6, 1917 in the Mississippi Delta. Inspired by the fighting spirit of her mother, Fannie Lou Hamer became widely known as the “Spirit” of the Civil Rights movement. In the early 1960’s a Black man or woman could lose their life trying to register to vote in some towns in Mississippi. But even at the risk of her life, Fannie Lou Hamer registered to vote.  Continue reading

School desegregation ends

Desegregation at Little Rock: Little Rock Central High School. February 14. 1969

On October 29, 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that school districts must end segregation “now and hereafter.�  With this unambiguous language, the Court, which now had Thurgood Marshall as a member, left no room for doubt or delay.Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education is an important (and, today, curiously underrated) Supreme Court decision from 1969. It mandated immediate action in the segregation of public school facilities.

The Court was responding to a legal challenge from diehard anti-integrationists, who had learned—from civil rights proponents, no doubt—that the legal system could be used to support social objectives. The anti-integrationists, however, received a major defeat when the Court ruled unanimously that Mississippi (and, by extension, the nation) was obliged to integrate public schools “at once.� Continue reading

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