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.
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:
â€œToday, 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
On October 29, 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that school districts must end segregation â€œnow and hereafter.â€�Â 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 learnedâ€”from civil rights proponents, no doubtâ€”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 â€œat once.â€� Continue reading