"On September 9, 1957, Louis Armstrong was about to go onstage…when he saw on television a crowd of whites jeering at black children who were trying to enter Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Armstrong was outraged. He had just been asked to undertake a goodwill tour of the Soviet Union for the State Department. Jazz had always been a symbol of American freedom and Armstrong [would’ve] been the first American jazz artist to appear behind the Iron Curtain…with Little Rock, he was reluctant to go.

Armstrong cancelled the tour. ‘The way they’re treating my people in the south,” he told a reporter, ‘the government can go to hell. It’s getting so bad, a colored man hasn’t got any country.’”
-Jazz (2001)


Martin Luther King Jr. stands in front of a bus at the end of the Montgomery bus boycott. Montgomery, Alabama December 26, 1956. (Photo Credit: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Martin Luther King Jr is arrested by two white police officers in Montgomery Alabama on September 4, 1958. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. sits in a jail cell at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama. October 1967. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

Dr. King (left) and Stokely Carmichael (right) walk together during the March Against Fear in Mississippi June, 1966. (Photo Credit: Flip Schulke/Corbis )

Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta, lead a five-day march to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery in 1965. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

Martin Luther King leading march from Selma to Montgomery to protest lack of voting rights for African Americans. Beside King is John Lewis, Reverend Jesse Douglas, James Forman and Ralph Abernathy. March 1965. (Steve Schapiro/Corbis)

Rev. King waves to the crowd at the March on Washington, August 28,1963. (Photo Credit: Bettman/Corbis)

A famous civil rights era photo showing a young man being attacked on May 3, 1963 by a German shepherd in Birmingham is finally being credited as Walter Lee Fowlkes. He was a student at Miles College when the photo was taken. Mr. Fowkles never made a huge fuss about the photo in public interviews. He passed away weeks ago. “He just went on with his life and wasn’t really looking for notoriety. At the time, he was motivated, committed, doing what he had to do.” said his cousin in The Birmingham News report.

Image and caption via NAACP.

A lot of people, Black and white, have the impression that those of us who got involved in the Movement, when it started in 1960, were fighting for integration. That’s the way the white press interpreted the sit-ins and freedom rides and all that. But what they didn’t understand was that none of us was concerned about sitting down next to a white man and eating a hamburger. Anybody who thinks that is reflecting white nationalism. That’s that white supremacist attitude. Nothing is good unless it can be done in the company of white people. We would’ve been some kind of fools to get beaten up, spat on and jailed the way a lot of folks did just to sit down at a lunch counter beside a white person. Integration was never our concern. In fact, integration is impractical. You cannot legislate an attitude and integration is based upon an attitude of mutual acceptance and respect between two racial or cultural groups in the society. A law can govern behavior, but attitudes cannot be forced or enforced, and what the Civil Rights Movement was concerned with was controlling the animalistic behavior of white people. I resented somebody telling me I couldn’t eat at a certain place. It wasn’t that I wanted to eat there. Hell no! I always knew we had the best food anyway. But as part of that constant battle waged by Black people against white america, if white folks didn’t want me to eat there, in the door I went. If I had a free choice, I’d sit in the back of the bus. That’s where the heater is. We weren’t fighting for integration. We were letting white folks know that they could no longer legislate where we went or what we did.
—  H. Rap Brown, Die Nigger Die: A Political Autobiography

Civil Rights Protest prep. Hair pulling and blowing smoke in her face to prepare her for the experience of sitting in restaurants that were not willing to serve people of color. 

We’re celebrating how far we’ve come all month long! Join us in Detroit on FEB 22 and all over the world for empowerment events. Go to:

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Fannie Lou Hamer’s testimony before the Credentials Committee, Democratic National Convention, Atlantic City, New Jersey - August 22, 1964

via American Experience