african american civil rights movement

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January 15th 1929: Martin Luther King Jr. born

On this day in 1929, the future civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Born as Martin King, he and his father changed their names in honour of Protestant reformer Martin Luther. King entered the ministry in his twenties and first came to national attention for his leadership of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. This event is considered by many to be the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, which saw a national struggle to end discrimination against African-Americans. King was one of many leaders, but became the face of the movement for his nonviolent tactics and powerful oratory. In 1963, during the March on Washington, King delivered the crowning speech of the movement - the ‘I have a dream’ speech. Beyond his role in combating racial inequality, King also focused on tackling poverty and advocating peace, especially during the Vietnam War. On April 4th 1968, King was shot and killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. He lived to see the legislative achievements of the movement - the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act - but tragically was unable to continue the push for full equality. The movement King set in motion continues to be fought today; the United States is still not a completely equal society and systemic discrimination persists. However, thanks to Martin Luther King, America is closer to fulfilling King’s dream of a truly free and equal society. Since 1986, a national Martin Luther King Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January.

Today would have been his 88th birthday

‘The Black Panther Party - Speech by John Hulett / Interview with Stokely Carmichael / Report from Lowndes County’, Socialist Workers Party, United States, 1966.
This pamphlet is about the first Black Panther Party in Lowndes County, Alabama that inspired the more well known BPP to form in Oakland, California.

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December 1st 1955: Rosa Parks on the bus

On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old black seamstress from Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white man. A member of the NAACP, Parks was returning home from a long day at work when the bus driver ordered her to give up her seat on the full bus for a white man. No stranger to civil rights activism, she was subsequently arrested for civil disobedience in defying the state’s Jim Crow racial segregation laws. Through this act of defiance, Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, during which time African-Americans - under the leadership of a young, charismatic reverend called Martin Luther King Jr. - refused to use the city buses, arguing that they should be integrated per the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. The boycott was successful in forcing Montgomery to end its discriminatory segregation laws, and marked the beginning of the main phase of what is now known as the Civil Rights Movement. From Montgomery, African-Americans across the United States went on to lead sit-ins, freedom rides, and political marches, in an attempt to bring an end to segregation laws which had oppressed their community for so long. These activists were all indebted to Rosa Parks - known as the ‘mother of the Civil Rights Movement’ - for her simple act of defiance, firmly asserting her humanity and her rights as an American citizen. As the movement grew, Parks remained an influential symbol and leader of the movement, which ultimately brought an end to legal segregation and forced Congress to pass the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. As for Parks herself, the affair of her arrest and the subsequent boycott caused her to lose her job and made her a victim of harassment and threats. She moved to Detriot and in 1965 began to work in the office of Congressman John Conyers. In 1999, Rosa Parks was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her role in transforming American race relations, and upon her death in 2005 she lay in state at the U.S. Capitol. Today, 60 years on, we remember Rosa Parks’s personal bravery, the successes of the movement she inspired, and the steps yet to be taken as the struggle against systemic racism continues.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day…No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”

60 years ago today

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The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

I Have a Dream

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." 

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. 

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

- Martin Luther King Jr, The Great March on Washington, 28th of august 1963

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February 21st 1965: Malcolm X assassinated

On this day in 1965, African-American civil rights leader Malcolm X was assassinated aged 39. Born as Malcolm Little in Nebraska in 1925, his family were forced to relocate when the Ku Klux Klan threatened his father, who was active in the black nationalist movement. Malcolm’s father was ultimately murdered by white supremacists - but the white police insisted it was suicide - and the family disintegrated. The young Malcolm dropped out of school and became involved in crime, eventually going to prison for burglary in 1946. While imprisoned, he was exposed to the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, who argued that the white man is the devil and cannot live peaceably with blacks, who should establish a separate black nation. Malcolm was powerfully affected by this ideology, and changed his last name to reject the ‘slave’ name he had been given. After his release from prison, Malcolm X became a preacher in New York, calling for black self-defence against white aggression. His eloquent advocacy of black nationalism and the neccessity of securing civil rights “by any means necessary”, including violence, made him a respected, but also feared, figure. Malcolm X was feared by white and black Americans, as some civil rights activists worried that his more radical message threatened the strategy of non-violence espoused by Martin Luther King Jr.. While his fame contributed to the Nation of Islam’s growing popularity, Malcolm began to split from the organisation, disillusioned by Elijah Muhammad’s hypocrisy and alleged corruption. He formally left the organisation in 1964, and visited Mecca, an experience which tempered his rhetoric and led him to abandon the argument that whites are devils. At this point, Malcolm changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, returning to America influenced by socialism and pan-Africanism and more hopeful for a peaceful resolution to America’s race problems. As he was preparing to speak at a rally for his recently-founded Organisation of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City, Malcolm X was shot 15 times by three members of the Nation of Islam. In death, his legacy loomed large over the civil rights movement, and African-American activists increasingly urged black power for black people. Malcolm X remains one of the most famous and respected figures of the civil rights movement, and his seminal autobiography is considered one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

“We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”

Malcolm X was born today in 1925. Gordon Parks captured this image of him addressing the crowd at a Harlem rally in 1963. The photograph is on view now in From the Collection: 1960–1969


[Gordon Parks. Malcolm X Gives Speech at Rally, Harlem, New York. 1963. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2016 Gordon Parks Foundation]

historically accurate kaz is my jam. because he would have

  • gone to college with early hippies
  • had access to weed and LSD, and realistically, probably tried it just because he could
  • learned to play guitar on Beatles songs
  • came to the US just after the Red Scare, which probably didn’t do him any favors as a foreginer
  • been there for the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK’s assassination, and the start of the Vietnam war
  • seen a great deal of the Civil Rights movement and likely sympathized with African-Americans given his own upbringing

Anne Frank and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both born in the same year (1929).

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born January 18, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.  When he turned 18, he entered ministry at the Baptist church. King was a prominent leader in the African American Civil Rights movement and assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39.  

Anne Frank was born June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany, and lived only 15 years, the last few spent hiding from the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Anne Frank became internationally famous when her diary was published by her father in 1947.

Daisy Bates (1944-1999)

Daisy Bates was an African American civil rights activist, journalist and publisher. Born in Huttig, Arkansas, Bates’s childhood was not easy. Her mother was sexually assaulted and murdered by three white men and Bates was raised by family friends. In her late teen bates met her future husband, Christopher Bates. The two soon married and operated an African American Newspaper, The Arkansas State which championed equal rights for African Americans. Bates soon furthered her involvement in the civil rights movement and became president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP in 1952. She is best known for her involvement with the Little Rock Nine. Bates’s house was used as headquarters for the operation and she consulted the students and supported them as they faced harassment from whites at their school. She later reflected on her experience in her Memoir: The Long Shadow of Little Rock. She died in 1999.

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May 17th 1954: Brown v. Board of Education

On this day in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its unanimous decision in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The decision declared racial segregation in schools unconstitutional, striking down the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ segregation which had been enshrined in the 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson. The Brown case had been bought by African-American parents, including Oliver L. Brown, against Topeka’s educational segregation. It was argued before the Court by the chief legal counsel of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Thurgood Marshall, who went on to become the first African-American Supreme Court justice in 1967. The Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, declared that segregation violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The landmark decision is often considered the start of the Civil Rights Movement, which fought for racial integration and full equality for African-Americans. The movement transformed American society, leading to the end of legal segregation and landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965). However, the mission of the movement, so eloquently expressed by Dr. King, to achieve full equality, is far from over.

“We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal
- Warren’s opinion for the Court