Although the roots of the civil rights movement go back to the 19th century, the movement peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. African American men and women, along with whites, organized and led the movement at national and local levels. They pursued their goals through legal means, negotiations, petitions, and nonviolent protest demonstrations.

  • Abernathy, Ralph D.Rev. Ralph Abernathy continued to lead SCLC until growing tensions over the direction of the organization forced to his resignation in 1977. Later that year he ran unsuccessfully for Congress. Three years later Abernathy became the most prominent civil rights leader to endorse Ronald Reagan for President.
  • African Americans and the Civilian Conservation CorpsThe Emergency Conservation Work Act establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps was signed into law by President Roosevelt on March 31, 1933. Under the direction of Robert Fechner, the CCC employed young men between the ages of 17 and 23 in work camps where they were assigned to various conservation projects. Enrollees were paid thirty dollars a month, twenty-five dollars of which was sent home to the enrollee's families. From 1933 to 1942, over three million young men enrolled in the CCC, including 250,000 African Americans who were enrolled in nearly 150 all-black CCC companies.
  • African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) ChurchThe A.M.E. Church evolved out of the Free African Society at the end of the 18th century in Philadelphia. The Society was a response to the discrimination against black Methodists who requested aid from the charitable funds of their church. Even during these initial years, the organization surpassed its immediate purpose and included religious, social, and intellectual aspects.
  • African Union SocietyFormer slaves, including Newport Gardner and Pompe (Zingo) Stevens, were two of the leaders in creating the African Union Society. By providing the basic record-keeping services previously mentioned, the society hoped to encourage a strong family structure for all blacks in Newport. Additionally, the AUS took on young black apprentices in hopes of creating a pathway to freedom for them. One of the ways Gardner was able to purchase his freedom was through trade work, and he naturally believed in its value to lift up others. For its members, the African Union Society provided the typical benefits of a mutual aid society, a buffer from the effects of illness and death in the family. Beyond the local welfare of blacks, the organization made contact with free blacks in a number of surrounding communities, hoping that expanded membership would lead to greater advancement of the race overall. They also pooled financial resources to provide loans and facilitated black purchase of property.
  • American Social Policy in the 1960's and 1970'sAs the decade of the 1960s began, the United States had the “highest mass standard of living” in world history.1 The strong American postwar economy of the late 1940s and 1950s continued into the 1960s.
  • Bethune, Mary McLeodAn educator, organizer, and policy advocate, Bethune became one of the leading civil rights activists of her era. She led a group of African American women to vote after the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution (giving women the right to vote).
  • Black Richmond, VA - 1934 Significant straws in the wind point to social changes in Black Richmond. The findings of the Negro Welfare Survey, of which Mrs. Guild was director, the new Negro Welfare Council and the coming in of federal relief are outstanding factors in new racial attitudes in this colored city within a city. During 1928 and 1929 a Negro welfare survey was conducted in Richmond by a bi-racial committee, employing a Negro and white staff, under the auspices of the Council of Social Agencies. In itself this was an accomplishment in racial progress, if it be remembered that we are talking about the Capital of the Confederacy. The survey was not the result of sudden realization on the part of the community that almost a third of its population was miserably handicapped in every department of life and holding back the other two thirds. The survey simply represented the vision of a few social workers who needed a practical answer to a perplexing question: What are the priorities in the social problems pressing for attention in Black Richmond?
  • Black Richmond: 1934The infant mortality rate in Black Richmond is 88 per 1000 births but many still live there who were born in slavery; individual Negroes often show a remarkable ability to survive life's handicaps. The illiteracy rate is approximately 10 percent in Black Richmond but there are many teachers and university professors with ample degrees from Columbia and Harvard, and lawyers, doctors, businessmen, social workers, most of them Richmond-born. That's the one thrilling thing about Black Richmond, the number brought up there who have somehow achieved education, poise, success. A Negro woman born and reared in the black city is the executive director of a large fraternal benefit association, founder and, until recently, the president of a Richmond bank which survived the moratorium. Another small black lady, founder and principal of the one institution resembling a high or vocational school in the neighboring county, has been honored for her achievements by a Harmon Award. Richmond Negroes carry on in many fields away from home, too. Charles Sydney Gilpin who played Emperor Jones, "Bojangles" Robinson of the light and shuffling feet were born in Richmond. Social workers know intimately the National Urban League and its secretary and director of industrial relations, both Richmond men. Legislators in two northern states, a leading doctor and an attorney in Detroit, a state parole officer in New York, a physician on the staff of Bellevue Hospital were born in Richmond.
  • Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters Win Over Pullman CompanyThe fight between the new company union and the Brotherhood to secure official recognition from the National Mediation Board began late in 1934. At the direction of the board an election to enable the porters and maids to express their preference was conducted from May 27 to June 27. It resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Brotherhood. Of a total of 8,316 eligible votes, the Brotherhood captured 5,931 and the company union only 1,422. In only three cities, Louisville, Memphis, and Atlanta, did the company union receive a majority of the eligible votes. The Brotherhood won majorities in 25 cities; it also received the overwhelming majority of votes cast by mail. The Brotherhood has already taken steps to initiate negotiations with the Pullman Company. The real fruits of victory will not be realized until a collective agreement is secured, but the chances for such an agreement are excellent.
  • Brown Fellowship SocietyMutual aid societies were maintained by blacks throughout the United States. The goal of the groups was to provide much needed benefits to their communities that whites controlled and often withheld. In the south, it was particularly difficult to sustain a black organization of any kind since assemblies of non-whites were considered dangerous. Still, some southern cities, including Charleston, SC, stratified individuals by three race descriptions: white, black, and mulatto. Those considered mulattoes were sometimes able to avoid the most severe oppressive measures carried out by whites while having to adhere in the majority of ways. The Brown Fellowship Society (BFS) was a response to this three-race cultural environment of Charleston and came together in 1790. Those who joined usually considered themselves mulatto...
  • Brown, William WellsBy 1843 Brown was lecturing regularly on his experiences in slavery for the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society. By that time he also became deeply committed to lecturing on behalf of women’s rights and temperance laws. It was this involvement as a prominent speaker that many historians and scholars suggest provided the trajectory for his later career as a writer.
  • Carver, George WashingtonAt Tuskegee, Carver launched a campaign aimed at lifting black farmers out of the desperate poverty in which most of them lived. Though his campaign ultimately failed in its aim, Carver adapted what he had learned in Ames in such a way as to put the application of its principles within reach of impoverished tenant farmers. In so doing, he anticipated the rise of organic farming and the push for the application of “appropriate technology.”
  • Child Welfare League History 1919-1977Formally established January 2, 1921, the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) has been one of the most important national organizations in the history of American child welfare. The creation of the CWLA coincided with the end of the progressive era and the beginning of another: an era dedicated to establishing national policies and standards combined with developing and disseminating program materials and practices to affiliate members thereby raising the quality of child caring services throughout the nation.
  • Civil Liberties--The Individual and the CommunityI think I will tell you a little story that brought home to me how important it was that in every community there should be someone to whom people could turn, who were in doubt as to what were their rights under the law, when they couldn't understand what was happening to them. I happen to go every now and then to a certain mining community and in that mining community there are a number of people who came to this country many years ago. They have been here so many years that they have no other country. This is their country. Their children have been born here. They work here. They have created great wealth for this country, but they came over at a time when there was not very much feeling of social responsibility about giving them the opportunity to learn the language of the country to which they had come, or telling them how to become citizens, or teaching about the government of this country....
  • Civil Rights MovementAlthough the roots of the civil rights movement go back to the 19th century, the movement peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. African American men and women, along with whites, organized and led the movement at national and local levels. They pursued their goals through legal means, negotiations, petitions, and nonviolent protest demonstrations.
  • Colonial Expansion Heads SouthIn 1619, a Dutch ship brought some Africans to Jamestown. They had been kidnapped from their homes by African traders and sold to the ship's captain. He sold them to the Virginia settlers. Those first blacks may have been treated like indentured servants. Later, however, colonists decided to keep them as slaves so they would not have to continue paying for workers. Indians did not make good slaves because they could run away. Blacks could not. They had no place to go. Slowly, laws were approved in Virginia that made it legal to keep black people as slaves. By 1750, there were more Africans in Virginia than any other group.
  • Congress of Racial EqualityThe Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) pioneered direct nonviolent action in the 1940s before playing a major part in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Founded by an interracial group of pacifists at the University of Chicago in 1942, CORE used nonviolent tactics to challenge segregation in Northern cities during the 1940s. Members staged sit-ins at Chicago area restaurants and challenged restrictive housing covenants. Early expansion beyond the University of Chicago brought students from across the Midwest into the organization, and whites made up a majority of the membership into the early 1960s.
  • Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American HistoryNot only has disability justified the inequality of disabled people but of other groups as well. In the three great citizenship debates of the 19th century and early 20th centuries: women’s suffrage, African American freedom, and immigration restriction, disability played a substantive role.
  • Douglass, FrederickDouglass’s life spanned important decades of American history in which the contradictions of race, class and gender were debated. Douglass played a crucial role in those debates. He spoke out against Northern race prejudice as well as Southern slavery. He challenged segregated Sabbaths--either white or black and criticized the race prejudice of immigrant labor organizations which excluded black freemen. Douglass once remarked that his son could more easily become an apprentice in a Boston law firm than in any workingman’s organization.
  • DuBois, W.E.B. (1868-1963): Scholar, Editor and Founding Member of the NAACPDu Bois was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) — the largest and oldest civil rights organization in America. Throughout his life Du Bois fought discrimination and racism. He made significant contributions to debates about race, politics, and history in the United States in the first half of the 20th century, primarily through his writing and impassioned speaking on race relations.
  • Edwards, Thyra J. (1897 - 1953)America's dismal handling of child welfare concerns weighed heavily on Edwards, which led her to the International People's College in Elsinore, Denmark. There - in 1931, during a six-month fellowship awarded by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) - she studied a wide range of areas with a concentration on child welfare legislation and industrial relations. Legendary labor leader, A. Phillip Randolph, who headed the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, was a mentor to Edwards and was key to her receiving the fellowship.
  • Effect of Economic Conditions Upon the Living Standards of Negroes 1928 It has been shown by a study made for the University of Georgia that the Negro in Georgia spends io per cent of his income on food. With the high cost of housing, clothing, etc., he cannot afford more. Add to the limited amount of food its inferior quality and lack of variety, and (because the woman must work) the hastily prepared and irregular meals, and you have a fruitful cause of ill health. Washerwomen often begin early in the morning and do not eat breakfast until noon. They often leave home before breakfast without feeding their children, and the latter eat what is left over from the day before. The Negro is unable to pay now for medical and dental care when necessary. He has always been unable to get credit at drug stores, and there is not enough aggregate capital to provide their own drug stores in many communities; therefore the obtaining of medicine during times of illness is always difficult. He is unable to continue to provide from his own pocket in a group way those health facilities denied him because of race, such as private hospitals and the like.
  • Egypt, Ophelia Settle (1903-1984)In the late 1920s, Ophelia Settle Egypt conducted some of the first and finest interviews with former slaves, setting the stage for the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) massive project ten years later. Born Ophelia Settle in 1903, she was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a researcher for the black sociologist Charles Johnson at Fisk University in Nashville.
  • Emancipation ProclamationThis document gave the states of the Confederacy until January 1, 1863 to lay down their arms and peaceably reenter the Union, if these states continued their rebellion all slaves in those seceding states were declared free.
  • Emancipation Proclamation: January 1st, 1863Lincoln first proposed the idea of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet in the summer of 1862 as a war measure to cripple the Confederacy. Lincoln surmised that if the slaves in the Southern states were freed, then the Confederacy could no longer use them as laborers to support the army in the field, thus hindering the effectiveness of the Confederate war effort. As an astute politician, however, Lincoln needed to prove that the Union government could enforce the Proclamation and protect the freed slaves. On September 22, 1862, following the Union “victory” at the Battle of Antietam, the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued...
  • Family Life Of The Negro In The Small Town-- 1926Even the briefest account of the family life of the Negro must include a consideration of the history back of the present Negro family. This history naturally divides itself into three periods: Africa, slavery, and freedom. While the African period, it must be remembered, does not claim our attention because an unbroken social tradition still affects the present formation of the Negro family -although traces of the African tradition were detected in marriage ceremonies near the opening of the present century —it is necessary to call attention to this period because of subsequent events. In Africa the Negro lived under regulated sex relations which were adapted to his social and physical environment. It was through the destruction in America of these institutionalized sex relations that slavery was able to bring about complete subordination.
  • Farmer, JamesOn one tense occasion in the early 1960's, after a particularly vicious spate of violence, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy suggested that Farmer's followers postpone some of their "freedom rides" -- designed to desegregate the interstate bus system in the South -- so that everyone could "cool off." Farmer refused, saying, "We have been cooling off for 350 years." ... As the turbulent decade of the 1960's unfolded, some blacks who despaired that they would ever have an amicable relationship with the white majority and regarded nonviolence as more of a weakness than a strength, on occasion would ask Farmer, "When are you going to fight back?" Farmer would always reply, "We are fighting back, we're only using new weapons."
  • Franciscan Sisters of MarySister Antona was a pioneer who advocated for peace and justice between groups who were divided in healthcare work, yet the best example of her excellence in social action is outside of the healthcare setting in 1965. Answering the call for an inter-faith demonstration, she was selected to represent the SSMs in Selma, Alabama for a march to support black voting rights. When the nuns present became the vanguard of the group, she received media attention and became the voice of the demonstrators: "I am here because I am a Negro, a nun, a Catholic, and because I want to bear witness."
  • Frazier, Edward FranklinIn Frazier’s view professional social work included speaking out on major issues of the day rather than going along with the status quo. His social work activism went hand-in-hand with his activism and contributions to the black movement in the 1920s. He opposed U.S. participation in World War I because he felt it was hypocritical given the racial discrimination in the United States, and he was also arrested for protesting the movie "Birth of a Nation."
  • Free African SocietyThe Free African Society’s legacy is acknowledged in Philadelphia at the site of the original Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church as “the forerunner of the first African-American churches in this city”. The contributions of the group during the yellow fever outbreak in 1793, as well as the racially charged dialogue that followed, acknowledge both the willingness of free blacks to serve the larger community and the difficulty in assuaging bigoted fears and suspicions at that time. Finally, the Free African Society provided the valuable social services of looking after the sick, the poor, the dead, the widowed, and the orphaned of their marginalized membership.
  • Freedmen’s BureauAt no time was the federal government more involved with African Americans than during the Civil War and Reconstruction period, when approximately four million slaves became freedmen. No agency epitomized that involvement more than did the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually called the Freedmen's Bureau. No series of essays on the impact of federal records on historical research on African Americans would therefore be complete without some mention of the Freedmen's Bureau (Record Group 105) and related military records in the National Archives.
  • Freedom: Promise of Fact: 1943In a comparatively short period of time the slaves have become free men—free men, that is, as far as a proclamation can make them so. There now remains much work to be done to see that freedom becomes a fact and not just a promise for my people. Eleanor Roosevelt, an article in the Negro Digest, 1943.
  • Friedan, Betty -- (1921-2006)In 1966, Betty Friedan helped establish NOW, the National Organization for Women. She served as its first president. She led campaigns to end unfair treatment of women seeking jobs. Friedan also worked on other issues. She wanted women to have the choice to end their pregnancies. She wanted to create child-care centers for working parents. She wanted women to take part in social and political change. Betty Friedan once spoke about her great hopes for women in the 1970s: "Liberating ourselves, we will then become a major political force, perhaps the biggest political force for basic social and political change in America in the seventies."
  • Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in AmericaBlacks who were interested in starting their own branch of the Odd Fellows had discussions with whites in these unincorporated lodges. While these efforts were unsuccessful, they were able to secure incorporation with the Order through a lodge in England. They officially started activities in 1843, and the early membership drew from two established black groups who lacked mutual benefit components: the Philomethan Literary Society and the Philadelphia Company and Debating Society. One of the key players in the development of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in America was Peter Ogden. He reportedly swayed American blacks interested in the Odd Fellows to focus their attention on gaining affiliation with an English lodge rather than lodges in the United States. Ogden presented the admission application in person to the appropriate committee during one of his voyages while in England.
  • Granger, Lester B.Lester Blackwell Granger introduced civil rights to the social work agenda as a national and international issue. He focused attention and advocacy energy on the goal of equal opportunity and justice for all people of color, even while focusing on the condition of black people in the United States. He is credited with leading the development of unions among black workers as well as integrating white unions. He led the integration of black workers in defense industries and the beginnings of racial integration in the military services during World War II.
  • Hamilton-Madison House: Reaching the Hard Core of Poverty...it is the settlement's responsibility to seek out those youngsters and families whose inability to cope with the complexities of urban living makes them chronic problems to the schools, to law-enforcement agencies, to landlords, to their neighbors, and to themselves. These families and individuals are not able to be served by the more structures set up for "the poor", for they can neither conform to clinic or case-work-agency appointment schedules nor travel half way across the city. We are the neighborhood resources that intercedes for them with the courts, the Welfare Department, the Board of Education, or the Health Department, which gives meaning to their lives, which coddles them at times, perhaps, until they are ready to take their place again in a highly competitive society. Our intercession never denies people the right of decision; instead it prepares them to exercise that right as soon as they are able.
  • Harlem: Dark Weather-VaneThe Harlem riot of 1935, now the subject of a comprehensive report, demonstrated that "the Negro is not merely the man who shouldn't be forgotten; he is the man who cannot safely be ignored." Alain Locke, early interpreter of the New Harlem in a special issue of Survey Graphic, here pictures the Harlem of hard times
  • Harper's Ferry Raid, 1859On October 16, 1859 in the town of Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) John Brown, an ardent abolitionist, and 21 other men raided a West Virginia armory to seize weapons for a planned slavery insurrection.
  • Haynes, Elizabeth RossIn the early twentieth century Progressive era reformers largely ignored the needs of African American women. Lacking settlement houses and other resources African American reformers such as Elizabeth Ross Haynes turned to one of the few institutions available to them, the YWCA.
  • Haynes, George EdmundSouthern segregation policies were granted legitimacy by the Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. The alternatives for former slaves were limited. They could work for white farmers as tenants or sharecroppers, barely a step above slavery, or they could leave the South. Many opted to migrate and moved north to find a better life. Two people stepped forward at this time to provide leadership and help build an organization dedicated to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream – one Negro, one white; one man, one woman – and together, they founded the National Urban League.
  • Hughes, LangstonHughes deeply believed that black art should represent the experiences and culture of the black “folk.” Images of rural and urban working-class African Americans filled his poetry and prose and his writing celebrated blues and jazz culture. Some of his more famous writing associated with the Harlem Renaissance include the collections of poems, The Weary Blues (1926) and Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927); the novel Not Without Laughter (1930); and the essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” (1926).
  • Hunter, Jane EdnaHunter graduated in 1905 as a trained nurse from Hampton Institute, VA, and migrated to Cleveland Ohio, arriving in 1905 as a 23 year old single African American woman. When she arrived in Cleveland she could not find decent housing or professional work because of segregation laws and practices. Her first housing was a place where prostitutes lived. With With the help of other women and $1,500, she first opened the Working Girls Home Association, a boarding home for 10 women at East 40th, north of Central Avenue.
  • Jacobs, Jane -- 1916 - 2006Jane Jacobs also noted New York City's Greenwich Village as an example of an exciting city community. This is one of the communities that was saved, in part at least, because of her writings and activism. In 1962, Jacobs headed a committee to stop the development of a highway through Lower Manhattan in New York City. The expressway would have cut right through Greenwich Village and the popular SoHo area. Influential New York City developer Robert Moses proposed the plan. But huge public protests in 1964 led the city government to reject it. Jacobs' book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" helped influence public opinion against the expressway.
  • Jim Crow Laws and Racial SegregationFollowing the end of the Civil War and adoption of the 13th Amendment, white southerners were not happy with the end of slavery and the prospect of living or working “equally” with blacks whom they considered inferior. To try and maintain the status quo, the majority of states and local communities passed “Jim Crow” laws that mandated “separate but equal" status for African Americans.
  • Johnson, Cernoria M.Cernoria Johnson was the director of the Washington office of the National Urban League from the late 1950's to the early 1970's where she was a close colleague of Whitney Young. During her years with the Urban League, she was involved with the development and passage of the Great Society legislation and she served on the first advisory committee to the Medicaid Program enacted in 1965.
  • King, Rev. Martin Luther, Jr.In 1963, Dr. King led a massive civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Ala., and organized drives for black voter registration, desegregation, and better education and housing throughout the South. During these nonviolent campaigns he was arrested several times, generating newspaper headlines throughout the world. In June, President John F. Kennedy reacted to the Birmingham protests by submitting broad civil rights legislation to Congress. Dr. King was the final speaker at the historic March on Washington DC (August 28, 1963), where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In June the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Also in 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation (1775)Dunmore’s proclamation offered freedom only to those who would flee from rebel masters and serve the crown. Its purpose was strategic, to disable rebellion, rather than humanitarian, yet its effect was rather the reverse. White southerner colonists swung to oppose royal authority as it appeared that Dunmore and his “Damned, infernal, Diabolical” proclamation were inciting slave insurrection: nothing, it can be argued, so quickly lost the South for the crown. British officialdom, however, never repudiated the proclamation’s message and soon established an alliance with black Americans that brought thousands of escaped southern slaves to the side of the British forces operating in the south.
  • Lovejoy, OwenOwen Lovejoy (January 6, 1811 – March 25, 1864) was an American lawyer, Congregational minister, abolitionist, and Republican congressman from Illinois. He was also a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad. After his brother Elijah Lovejoy was murdered in November 1837 by pro-slavery forces, Owen became the leader of abolitionists in Illinois.
  • March on Washington, D.C. August 28, 1963On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people from across the nation came together in Washington, D.C. to peacefully demonstrate their support for the passage of a meaningful civil rights bill, an end to racial segregation in schools and the creation of jobs for the unemployed.
  • March on Washington, D.C.: Rev. King's "I Have a Dream" SpeechOn August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people from across the nation came together in Washington, D.C. to peacefully demonstrate their support for the passage of a meaningful civil rights bill, an end to racial segregation in schools and the creation of jobs for the unemployed. It was the largest demonstration ever held in the nation’s capital, and one of the first to have extensive television coverage. The march is remembered too as the occasion for Reverend Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
  • March on Washington, DC: Final Organization PlansOriginal documents prepared for the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom
  • March on Washington, DC: Lincoln Memorial ProgramOriginal documents for the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom
  • Marshall, ThurgoodMarshall’s most famous case was the legal challenge on behalf of Linda Brown and twelve other plaintiffs that would result in the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954. Here the high court struck down an earlier Supreme Court's 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, declaring that “separate but equal” public education was unconstitutional. Numerous legal scholars contend that this ruling was one of the most important and far reaching in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court and of the nation.
  • Matthews, Victoria Earle (1861-1907)In civic areas, Mrs. Matthews founded the Woman’s Loyal Union in 1892. She was also one of the leaders in supporting the anti-lynching crusade of Ida B. Wells. In 1895 Matthews helped found the National Federation of Afro-American Women and was later instrumental when this organization and the National Colored Women’s League merged with the National Association of Colored Women (1896). She served as the first national organizer of the combined group from 1897 to 1899.
  • Micheaux, Oscar D. (1884 - 1951): Famous Author, Producer and Director of Films on Race RelationsMicheaux sought to create films that would counter white portrayals of African Americans, which tended to emphasize inferior stereotypes. He created complex characters of different classes, and was never interested in simplicity. The themes discussed in Micheaux’s films represented the development of the black voice in mass media. They questioned the value system of both African American and Caucasian communities, while causing problems with the press and state censors. His own life experiences were the basis for much of his work. Growing up in southern Illinois, which had long been influenced by Southern migrants and culture, he learned about some relationships between African Americans and whites, and their misunderstandings.
  • Migration of Negroes Into Northern Cities 1917In the first place, this movement of Negroes, while it is larger and more widespread due to the present unusual conditions, has been going on for the past three or four decades. It may not have attracted as much attention because it was going on quietly and at a slower rate. But there has been a steady stream and the moving causes are the same. An indication-of this fact is the increase of Negro population since.1880 in the following nine northern and border cities: Boston, Greater New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Evansville, Indianapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis. Between 1880 and 1890 the Negro populationof these nine cities increased about 36.2 per cent. From 1890 to 1900 it increased about 74.4 per cent and from 1900 to 1910 about 37.4 per cent.
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored PeopleIn its early years, the NAACP concentrated on using the courts to overturn the Jim Crow statutes that legalized racial discrimination. In 1913, the NAACP organized opposition to President Woodrow Wilson's introduction of racial segregation into federal government policy. By 1914, the group had 6,000 members and 50 branches, and was influential in winning the right of African-Americans to serve as officers in World War I. Six hundred African-American officers were commissioned and 700,000 registered for the draft. The following year the NAACP organized a nationwide protest against D.W. Griffith's silent film Birth of a Nation, a film that glamorized the Ku Klux Klan.
  • National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Inc. (1896 - )The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Inc. (NACWC), was established in July 1896 as a merger between the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women. The merger enabled the NACWC to function as a national umbrella group for local and regional Black women’s organizations.
  • National Council on Naturalization and Citizenship
  • Negro Wage Earners and Trade UnionsThe President of the American Federation of Labor ventures some advice to Negro workers and their role in the present crisis (1934). --The Editor of Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life Published by the National Urban League
  • Negro Workers and Recovery: 1934For many months in the midst of the depression, Negroes saw all municipal work in building trades turned over to white union workers who steadfastly refused to allow a Negro mechanic to work with them. In the 17 Negro schools of the city, no Negro was allowed to earn a single dime on building or repair work. Representation to and conferences with city and union officials brought only evasive rejoinders and no action. Finally, the Negroes' patience snapped at sight of a $2,000,000 colored hospital being erected in the middle of their own neighborhood, built with municipal and Federal funds, with no Negro carpenters, bricklayers, painters, or other skilled workers, allowed on the job. Out of this resentment, guided and advised by the St. Louis Urban League, grew a Negro labor organization of building trades workers whose avowed aim was to protect the interests of Negro workers under the recovery program.
  • Next Steps In Interracial Relations: 1944Every American who is worthy of the title "citizen" has carried a deep sense of shame and a feeling of almost personal responsibility for what happened in 1943 in New York City, Los Angeles, Beaumont, Mobile, and Detroit. Those bloody and costly riots were warnings of how far this nation still has to go in order to develop the single-minded purpose and the well-disciplined unity that are needed to win this war. It is possible mathematically to calculate the loss of man-hours of labor, of war materials, and of property caused by those riots. It will never be possible, however, to calculate the more severe loss of confidence by American citizens in their government and the loss of trust and cooperation between white and Negro Americans who should be working and planning together, wholeheartedly, for victory.
  • Niagara Movement (1905-1909)The Niagara Movement was a civil rights group organized by W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter in 1905. After being denied admittance to hotels in Buffalo, New York, the group of 29 business owners, teachers, and clergy who comprised the initial meeting gathered at Niagara Falls, from which the group’s name derives.
  • Obtaining Civil Rights In Baltimore 1946-1960Looking at the events as a whole there is no pattern in the changes. The differential pace of overcoming obstruction to change for the better continued even in circumstances where it was ordered by court action. As has been already noted, in 1947 the Baltimore School System received the Hollander award for promoting integration in the schools...
  • Ovington, Mary WhiteInfluenced by the ideas of William Morris, Ovington joined the Republican Party in 1905, but was a self declared Liberal as many Republicans were at that time, where she met people including Daniel De Leon, Asa Philip Randolph, Floyd Dell, Max Eastman and Jack London, who argued that racial problems were as much a matter of class as of race. She wrote for radical journals and newspapers such as The Masses, New York Evening Post and the New York Call. She also worked with Ray Stannard Baker and influenced the content of his book, "Following the Color Line," published in 1908.
  • Papell, Catherine P.
  • Plessy, Homer A.Homer A. Plessy was the plaintiff in the middle of the 1896 Supreme Court ruling that confirmed the concept of "separate but equal" in U.S. law which then opened the door even wider for legal segregation, commonly known as "Jim Crow" laws.
  • Powell, Adam C.During the Great Depression, Powell developed a reputation as a fearless Harlem community activist. He successfully organized and led peaceful boycotts to force white businesses in Harlem to hire blacks for management and professional positions. He was also an outspoken advocate for fair and affordable housing.
  • President's Committee on Fair Employment Practice (FEPC)By the end of WWII, African Americans accounted for almost eight percent of defense-industry jobs, and the number of Black Americans working for the federal government more than tripled. While the FEPC was charged with investigating discrimination, job bias continued. Often, when African Americans were hired, they were segregated within the defense industry, paid less than their white counterparts, and restricted in their ability to join and participate in unions.
  • Race, Religion and PrejudiceOver and over again, I have stressed the rights of every citizen: Equality before the law. Equality of education. Equality to hold a job according to his ability. Equality of participation through the ballot in the government.
  • Robeson, PaulPaul Robeson is best known as a world famous athlete, singer, actor, and advocate for the human rights of people throughout the world. Over the course of his career Robeson combined all of these activities into a lifelong quest for racial justice.
  • Robinson, Virginia Pollard
  • Rustin, Bayard: Master OrganizerIn 1956, he took leave from the League to advise Martin Luther King on non-violent tactics during the Montgomery bus boycott. When the pacifist Rustin first met King, he slept with a pistol under his pillow and had armed guards. He who introduced him to pacifism and non-violent tactics. In 1957, he and King started to organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Given his political and sexual past, other black leaders, especially Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, forced him to resign. While Rustin did not have to resign from his role in organizing King’s 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom, A. Phillip Randolph got the up-front publicity. In putting the march together, Rustin was known for paying meticulous attention to every detail and for seeming to be everywhere at once. He was the engine that made it go.
  • Schools for a MinorityTo Americans north and south this Alabama journalist presents the picture of race discrimination in education—a failure of democracy with economic, social and political repercussions throughout our national life.
  • Scott, DredOn March 6, 1857, the United States Supreme Court finally ruled in Dred Scott v Sandford [Sanford was misspelled by a court clerk]. In a 7-2 decision written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the majority of justices said that Scott and all slaves and free blacks were not citizens of the United States and therefore had no standing in the courts. Shortly after the decision was handed down Mrs. Emerson freed Scott. The case itself led to the nullification of the Missouri Compromise of 1820, allowing the expansion of slavery into formerly free territories and the legal principle that African Americans, slave or free, were not citizens of the United States. The backlash to this decision strengthened the abolitionist movement and further divided the North and South, leading four years later to the U.S. Civil War.
  • Scottsboro Boys, Trial and Defense Campaign (1931–1937)On March 25, 1931, nine unemployed young black men, illegally riding the rails and looking for work, were taken off a freight train at Scottsboro, Alabama and held on a minor charge. The Scottsboro deputies found two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, and pressured them into accusing the nine youths of raping them on board the train.
  • Social Insurance & Social Security Chronology: Part V -- 1960sThe following pages present a detailed historical chronology of the development of social insurance, with particular emphasis on Social Security. Items are included in this compilation on the basis of their significance for Social Security generally, their importance as precedents, their value in reflecting trends or issues, or their significance in Social Security Administration’s administrative history. The information includes legislative events in Social Security and related programs. Our expectation is that this Chronology can be used as a reference tool and finding aid for important dates and events in Social Security’s long history.
  • Southern Farm Tenancy: 1936When an Alabama town erected a monument "in profound appreciation of the boll weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity" a moral was pointed which this author drives home with recent researches in the South. Cotton still enslaves 8 million people; emancipation can come only by diversified farming, a long range program for which is here given
  • Stewart, Maria MillerMaria W. Stewart (1803-1880) was one of the first American women to leave copies of her speeches. The address below is her second public lecture. It was given on September 21, 1832 in Franklin Hall in Boston, the meeting site of the new England Anti-Slavery Society. Although as an abolitionist, she usually attacked slavery, in this address she condemns the attitude that denied black women education and prohibited their occupational advancement. In fact she argues that Northern African American women, in term of treatment, were only slightly better off than slaves.
  • Suffrage in the South Part II: The One Party SystemIn a sequel to his study of the poll tax, this young southern writer further analyzes democracy in Dixie. His findings and his conclusions, carefully checked by southern researchers, are especially significant in this year of national elections.
  • Suffrage in the South: The Poll TaxIn the South, two thirds of the voting population are barred from the polls by a head tax which is a prerequisite to voting. What this "one third democracy for one sixth of the nation" means to the Democratic party, to the nation, and to the issues of the 1940 elections are revealed in the staggering facts and figures here presented in the first of two articles by a young southern writer.
  • The 1970's as Policy WatershedIn 1974 the expansive social policy system that had prevailed in the postwar era ended, and a more restrictive system that would characterize the rest of the seventies and the early eighties began to take its place.
  • The Assimilation Of Negro Immigrants In Northern Cities 1917The first prerequisite in the task of organizing a local community for the absorption of a large new population of negro citizens is the establishment of a vocational bureau. In the past, when labor agencies brought the majority of negroes who came North, the problem of employment was simple. They were assured of jobs before they arrived. But now the majority of immigrants come without such inducement. They come in larger numbers and at all times of the year, when the demand for labor is strong and when it is slack. This situation is fraught with danger because in a few days idling about the city in search of a job the immigrant may come into contact with conditions and people whose influence is demoralizing and may destroy his chance of ever becoming a useful citizen.
  • The Farmville Protests of 1963
  • The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil WarBy the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers. Black women, who could not formally join the Army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts, the most famous being Harriet Tubman, who scouted for the 2d South Carolina Volunteers.
  • The Great SocietyThis article is coming soon, please take a look at some of the other articles in this section!
  • The Maids Narratives The stories personalize the sufferings by these southern black women who worked as young children in the cotton fields and who managed somehow to raise their children and protect their men folk in a racially hostile environment. The economic oppression they endured was echoed by legal constraints that always favored the dominant race at their expense. The norms of segregation, as the book explains, were enforced by white men bent on suppressing black men and keeping them away from their women. At the same time, these men had access to black women, a fact of which they often took advantage. The term segregation to the extent that it means separation of the races does not really apply. In any case, the social system that evolved following slavery. Consider the tremendous legal battles that ensued to keep the races separate in the schools and universities.
  • The Menace Of Racial And Religious IntoleranceWhile my calling is not in the line of practical social work, I believe social science and social work should go hand in hand. I have been identified with this body for twenty-five years, for at the beginning of my teaching I joined the National Conference of Charities and Correction, as it was then called, and attended my first meeting in Topeka in I900. Through the twenty-five years that I have been teaching sociology at the University of Missouri I have always stressed the point that social theory is for the sake of social work, that theory is no good without practice; and my department has tried to turn out many practical social workers. Some of them, I am glad to see, are a part of this audience. So I feel myself one of you, and I am going to talk to you straight from the shoulder, face to face.
  • The Negro and Relief - Part IThis practice of the displacement of Negro labor by white labor began even before the depression. The Negro felt its effect as early as 1927. From the very beginning it has been stimulated by outside forces. For instance, an organization called the Blue Shirts was set up in Jacksonville, Florida, about 1926 for the express purpose of replacing Negroes in employment with white men. An organization called the Black Shirts was formed at Atlanta, Georgia, late in 1927 for the same purpose. The Black Shirts, whose regalia consisted chiefly of black shirts and black neckties, published a daily newspaper. They frequently held night parades in which were carried such signs as "Employ white man and let 'Niggers' go"; "Thousands of white families are starving to death-what is the reason?"; and "Send 'Niggers' back to the farms."
  • The Negro and Relief: Part IIAbout the only source to which the Negro can look for real aid today is the United States government. Experience has shown that local authorities cannot be trusted to administer equably government funds in many sections of the country so far as Negroes are concerned. I am satisfied that the national administration is eminently fair and wants to reach out and see the benefits of its recovery program extended to every citizen, but this ideal is neutralized in many local communities. On the other hand, one does not need to argue for complete centralized control by the federal government, but rather for a degree of protection for a group which experience has proved suffers at the hands of local administrators.
  • The Negro and Social Change"...No right-thinking person in this country today who picks up a paper and reads that in some part of the country the people have not been willing to wait for the due processes of law, but have gone back to the rule of force, blind and unjust as force and fear usually are, can help but be ashamed that we have shown such a lack of faith in our own institutions. It is a horrible thing which grows out of weakness and fear, and not out of strength and courage; and the sooner we as a nation unite to stamp out any such action, the sooner and the better will we be able to face the other nations of the world and to uphold our real ideals here and abroad...."
  • The Port Royal ExperimentIn January of 1862 Union General William T. Sherman requested teachers from the North to train the ex-slaves. Three months later U.S. Secretary of Treasury Salmon Chase appointed Boston attorney Edward L. Pierce to begin the Port Royal Experiment, which would create schools and hospitals for ex-slaves and to allow them to buy and run plantations. That same month the steamship Atlantic left New York City bound for Port Royal. On board were 53 missionaries including skilled teachers, ministers and doctors who had volunteered to help promote this experiment.
  • The TVA and the Race ProblemWhen the civil service examinations were first given by the TVA in the twelve counties round about Norris, only 1.9 per cent of those who qualified for jobs were Negroes. In these same twelve counties Negroes comprise exactly 7.1 per cent of the total population. Thus it looked as though colored labor was to suffer. TVA authorities insisted that they were helpless to rectify matters since they were compelled to choose their employees from among the people who had qualified by examination. Negro leaders claimed, however, that the reason so small a proportion of their population had qualified was that they had either not even been told of the examinations or else had been given to understand by the native whites that there was no need for them to apply since the whole project was for the advantage of the white man. There were some facts which lent credibility to this charge. For example, TVA authorities did not, and still do not, plan to use any Negro labor on the building of the Norris Dam itself....
  • The Urban League and the A.F. of L.It is unnecessary to repeat in detail a recital of the various types of discrimination which Negroes suffer when they attempt to join the organized labor movement. It is sufficient to say that experiences of the past several years are conclusive proof that the liberal position taken by the American Federation of Labor and by a few enlightened and progressive unions has not been effective in decreasing appreciably the organized resistance in many internationals and numerous locals against the full participation of Negro membership.
  • The Voting Rights Act of 1965President Johnson signed the resulting legislation into law on August 6, 1965. Section 2 of the Act, which closely followed the language of the 15th amendment, applied a nationwide prohibition against the denial or abridgment of the right to vote on the literacy tests on a nationwide basis. Among its other provisions, the Act contained special enforcement provisions targeted at those areas of the country where Congress believed the potential for discrimination to be the greatest.
  • Three Notable African American Women in Early Child WelfareFor the most part, social welfare history has focused on efforts to protect dependent and delinquent white immigrant children. Information on the care of African American children has been excluded. Because of racial separation and discrimination, information describing the care of African American children has often been left out.
  • Towne, Laura MatildaIn 1861, the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina fell to the Union army. Faced with defeat, the entire white population fled, leaving their homes, belongings, and ten thousand slaves. Towne arrived on the Sea Islands in April 1862, one of the first Northern women to go south to work during the Civil War. She participated in the Port Royal Experiment, the first large-scale government effort to help former slaves. The teachers who went south sought not only to teach the freedmen how to read and write, but hoped to help them develop socially and morally. They saw themselves as missionaries who would "bring the light of God's truth" to people they assumed were in need of such enlightenment.
  • Truth, SojournerThe turning point in Isabella’s life came on June 1, 1843, when at the age of 52 she adopted a new name, Sojourner Truth, and headed east for the purpose of “exhorting the people to embrace Jesus, and refrain from sin.” For several years, she preached at camp meetings and lived in a utopian community, the Northampton Association for Education and Industry, which devoted itself to transcending class, race, and gender distinctions.
  • Tubman, HarrietTubman had made the perilous trip to slave country 19 times by 1860, including one especially challenging journey in which she rescued her 70-year-old parents. Of the famed heroine, who became known as "Moses," Frederick Douglass said, "Excepting John Brown -- of sacred memory -- I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than [Harriet Tubman]."
  • Tuskegee Syphilis ExperimentDoctors working with the Public Health Service (PHS) commenced a multi-year experiment in 1932. Their actions deprived 400 largely uneducated and poor African Americans in Tuskegee, Alabama of proper and reasonable treatment for syphilis, a disease whose symptoms could easily have been relieved with the application of penicillin which became available in the 1940s. Patients were not told they had syphilis nor were they provided sufficient medication to cure them. More than 100 men died due to lack of treatment while others suffered insanity, blindness and chronic maladies related to the disease.
  • Underground Railroad, The (1820-1861)The Underground Railroad worked as a series of networks. The journey north was an extremely long route and the Underground Railroad provided depots or safe houses along the way. Those that led the runaway slaves north did so in stages. No conductor knew the entire route; he or she was responsible for the short routes from station to station. Once the “cargo” reached another station, it would be passed on to the next conductor until the entire route was traversed. This limited knowledge protected both the fugitive slaves and the integrity of the routes which sometimes extended over 1,000 miles.
  • Unruly Slaves (Fighters for Freedom)"It is a remarkable thing to tell you, some
people can’t see it, but I am going to tell 
you, you can believe it or not but it’s the
truth; some colored people at that [time]
wouldn’t be whipped by masters. They would run away and hide in the woods, come home at nights and get something to eat and out he would go again. Them times they called them "runaway niggers". Some of them stayed away until after the war was over."
  • Urbanization And The Negro: 1933It is a significant fact that while there was a distinct loss in both Negro and white rural farm population during the past decade, the land operated by Negroes decreased by 31,835,050 acres, approximately 5,992 square miles (an area slightly larger than the combined land areas of Connecticut and Rhode Island), between 1920 and 1930. At the same time there was a very substantial increase of 34,743,840 acres, or approximately 54,287 square miles for white farm operators.
  • Washington, Booker TaliaferroDuring his era, Booker T. Washington exerted much power on behalf of the African American community. Though many Black intellectuals disagreed with him and his tactics, his way of thinking appealed to many middle and working class Blacks. His connections with the prominent White Americans allowed him to serve as a conduit for funds that served African American community.
  • Washington, Forrester BlanchardAlthough Washington repeatedly attempted to persuade the Roosevelt administration that addressing the challenges faced by African Americans went beyond offering direct relief or common labor, he soon discovered that African Americans were not the primary focus of the administration’s political agenda. He did not want to continue on in a role that he felt would only make African Americans dependent on welfare and subsequently resigned from FERA and returned to Atlanta where he felt he could be more effective as he pursued his interests in social justice for African Americans.
  • We Do Our Part--But...These three million black workers are the backbone of the Negro consumer market. For them there is no immediate rise in wages. For them an immediate rise in prices will mean additional insecurity and suffering. Furthermore, in certain areas where there have been uniform minimum wages established for white and black workers employers have replaced Negroes with whites rather than pay them the same wages.
  • Wells-Barnett, Ida B.Incensed by the murder of her friends, Wells launched an extensive investigation of lynching. In 1892, she published a pamphlet, “Southern Horrors,” which detailed her findings. Through her lectures and books such as A Red Record (1895), Wells countered the “rape myth” used by lynch mobs to justify the murder of African Americans. Through her research she found that lynch victims had challenged white authority or had successfully competed with whites in business or politics. As a result of her outspokenness, a mob destroyed the offices of the Free Speech and threatened to kill Wells.
  • White, Walter F.By 1931 White had become executive secretary, the highest position in the association. During his tenure, the NAACP led the fight for anti-lynching legislation, and initiated trailblazing legal battles to eliminate all-white primaries, poll taxes and de jure segregation....Working with labor leader A. Philip Randolph, White in 1941 helped persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 which prohibited racial discrimination in defense industries and established the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), the first Federal agency to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination measures.
  • Wilson, Gertrude
  • Work-Relief and Negroes"...optimism is premature, just as was true in the cases of NRA, CWA, and others of the Administration's pet schemes for "priming the industrial pump of America." Certainly the controversy which the Work-Relief Bin is evoking at present writing in Senate committee and corridors indicates that there are grave weaknesses in the plans of President Roosevelt for ending the dole by giving jobs. Outstanding among these weaknesses is the President's insistence that the rate of pay shall be lower than prevailing wage levels. Here he has met the bitter opposition of organized labor, and it seems that he will meet defeat on the issue. There should be no hesitation among the Negroes to back up the position which organized labor takes in this instance. Mr. Roosevelt's plan to pay a lower wage than private industry is nothing less than an attempt to lower the existing wage level throughout all industry. It is a surrender to those interests which claim that "recovery" is held back because the wage structure is too high. It is an ignoral of the plain fact that in the building trades the wages for workers have taken a considerable drop in the past two years while the costs of materials have gone steeply upward...."
  • Young, Whitney M. JrA noted civil rights leader and statesman, Young worked to eradicate discrimination against blacks and poor people. He served on numerous national boards and advisory committees and received many honorary degrees and awards —including the Medal of Freedom (1969), presented by President Lyndon Johnson—for his outstanding civil rights accomplishments.