black civil rights leaders


Malcolm and Martin, closer than we ever thought

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was leaving a news conference one afternoon when a tall man with a coppery complexion stepped out of the crowd and blocked his path. Malcolm X, the African-American Muslim leader who once called King “Rev. Dr. Chicken-wing,” extended his hand and smiled.

“Well, Malcolm, good to see you,” King said after taking Malcolm X’s hand.

“Good to see you,” Malcolm X replied as both men broke into huge grins while a gaggle of photographers snapped pictures of their only meeting.

That encounter on March 26, 1964, lasted only a minute. But a photo of that meeting has tantalized scholars and supporters of both men for more than 45 years.

As the 85th birthday of Malcolm X is marked on Wednesday, history has freeze-framed him as the angry black separatist who saw whites as blue-eyed devils. Yet near the end of his life, Malcolm X was becoming more like King – and King was becoming more like him. “In the last years of their lives, they were starting to move toward one another,” says David Howard-Pitney, who recounted the Capitol Hill meeting in his book “Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and the Civil Rights Struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. "While Malcolm is moderating from his earlier position, King is becoming more militant,” Pitney says.

Malcolm X was reaching out to King even before he broke away from the Nation of Islam and embraced Sunni Islam after a pilgrimage to Mecca, says Andrew Young, a member of King’s inner circle at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights group King headed.“Even before his trip to Mecca, Malcolm used to come by the SCLC’s office,” Young says. “Unfortunately, Dr. King was never there when he came." 

He reached out to King and other civil rights leaders. In 1965, Malcolm X traveled to Selma, Alabama, where King was leading a campaign, to offer support. "Brother Malcolm was definitely making an outreach to some civil rights leaders,” says A. Peter Bailey, an original member of the group Malcolm X founded, The Organization of Afro-American Unity, and a friend of Malcolm X. “He believed that the one who would be most responsive would be Dr. King.”

The Muslim leader had developed an appreciation for King, Bailey says.“He had come to believe that King believed in what he was doing,” Bailey says. “He believed in nonviolence; it just wasn’t a show. He developed respect for him. I heard him say you have to give respect to men who put their lives on the line.”

King’s movement toward Malcolm began as he shifted the civil rights movement to the North, friends and scholars say. During the last three years of his life, King became more radical. He talked about eliminating poverty and providing a guaranteed annual income for all U.S. citizens. He came out against the Vietnam War, and said American society would have to be restructured.He also veered into Malcolm X’s rhetorical territory when he started preaching black self-pride, says Pitney.

“King is photographed a number of times in 1967 and ‘68 wearing a 'Black is Beautiful’ button,’ ” Pitney says.

A year before King died, the journalist David Halberstam even told him he “sounded like a nonviolent Malcolm X,” Pitney says.

In the epic PBS civil rights series, Coretta Scott King, the civil rights leader’s widow, said King never took Malcolm X’s biting criticisms of his nonviolence stance personally. “I know Martin had the greatest respect for Malcolm …,” she said. “I think that if Malcolm had lived, at some point the two would have come closer together and would have been a very strong force.”

(via CNN)

reminder to my fellow asians

Japanese internment happened.  The Chinese Exclusion Act happened and was not repealed until 1943.  Chinese people could not become American citizens until 1943.  Asian Indians could not be citizens until 1946.  Japanese people couldn’t become citizens until 1952.  Asian-Americans had no voting rights protection until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Make no mistake: discrimination and racism against AAPIs has been built into America from the start.  The diminishing and erasure of our contributions to building this country continue to this day.  We are the fastest-growing group and yet we either stay silent or are silenced.  We are not taught about our civil rights leaders.  We are conditioned to believe the myth of the model minority.

When it comes down to it, the rights we have today are a result of the Black civil rights movement and those Asian civil rights leaders who stood with them.  We are indebted to them, but as a group we don’t show it.  We are taught anti-blackness and colorism from an early age.  Some of us never realize our own racism and bigotry.

But we have to first understand it and second fight it, because this country is built on oppression of people of color.  You are either with other PoCs or you are not.  I’ll give you a hint: solidarity is the key.  Realize that the enemy is not other PoCs.  At the end of the day we aren’t white, and the past and present shows that.  They will try to divide us and pit us against each other.  They will offer us a seat at the table only if we remain lower.

That is, to be frank, bullshit.  That is not equality.  Reinforcing the hierarchy that white people have built only reinforces white supremacy and racism.  The faster we as a group understand this and combat it, the better.  This Day of Remembrance is a stark and moving reminder that we AAPIs remain targets.  It follows that it’s in our best interests to stand with other PoCs.

I support solidarity.

Yellow Peril supports Black Power.


5-Year-Old Recreates Photo Of An Iconic Woman Every Day Of Black History Month

In an empowering celebration of Black History Month, a mother and daughter teamed up to recreate photos of iconic black women.

Every day in February, Cristi Jones of Kent, Washington, has dressed her daughter, 5-year-old Lola, as an iconic black woman, helped her recreate a photo and shared the results on Twitter. Throughout the month, Lola has channeled modern women making history like ballet dancer Misty Copeland, civil rights leaders like Rosa Parks and more.


In 2017, Arkansas decides to no longer honor Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert E. Lee on the same day

  • Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed legislation Tuesday ending the state’s controversial practice of celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Gen. Robert E. Lee on the same day.
  • The bill marks the end of a decades-long tradition, wherein Arkansans commemorated King — one of the most influential black civil rights leaders in United States history — on the same day as Lee, a white Confederate general who quite literally fought a war to make sure black people remained enslaved.
  • Both men were born in January — King on Jan. 15, 1929, and Lee on Jan. 19, 1807. The bill will keep King’s holiday as is, but create a memorial day to commemorate Lee on the second Saturday in October, according to the Associated Press. Read more (3/22/17 11 AM)

follow @the-movemnt


Bayard Rustin - The Gay Civil Rights Leader

Bayard Rustin was the heart and soul of the black civil rights movement in the United States, He was Martin Luther King Jr.s chef organizer, the pioneer of nonviolent resistance, and the man behind the march on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, during which Dr.King delivered his momentous and influential “I Have a Dream” speech. Rustin’s open homosexuality was contentious, and to this day his impact on the American landscape is all too often overlooked.

Black Brits/Africans vs. African Americans

The whole Black Brits/Africans vs. Black Americans is utterly unfounded. I’m not sure if Blacks from London are jealous or something but there’s no other place in the world that produced the caliber of Black conscious civil rights leaders and movements the way America did. It’s not up for the debate, if we’re talking about numbers, the list of Black revolutionaries and movements from America are way higher than anywhere else, not only higher but massively successful as well (I can name about 25 from off the top of my head rn). This is so much so, that African natives would often study under African Americans, such as Professor William Leo Hasberry who was the teacher of Nigeria’s first President Nnmadi Azikiwe. African politicians and intellectuals would often come to America and study at Black founded Universities for education. Speaking of which the literacy rate amongst Black Americans is higher than anywhere else.

The truth is, all this argument trying to belittle African Americans have been bait traps because when you switch the narrative to African Americans, all of a sudden everyone can get on board, and we forget that for centuries Arabs enslaved East Africans and that populations of Arab nations consist of East Africans that are descendants of slaves. We forget that slaves were also sent to other parts of the world such as the Caribbean…

White supremacist don’t divide Blacks by nations, a Black is a Black to them and we all from Africa, yet on Twitter, as concentrated of a forum it is, we choose to divide ourselves & most of the hate I see is from Africans and Black Brits. I’ve seen really disturbing posts generalizing Black Americans as being ignorant of foreign politics. I post all this to say that these twitter beefs are extremely annoying (and not even accurate on most levels) and cause further division and is a distraction that is exactly what makes the enemy happy because when we divide ourselves it’s easier for them to get their way.

This is how many Black revolutionaries were killed and how many movements fell. Stay woke and don’t further divide yourselves. Coming together as allies kills the enemy who seek to keep all people of African descent down. All of our aims are liberation ✊🏾

“I have great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift”

Septima Poinsette Clark (May 3, 1898–December 15, 1987) was an American educator and civil rights activist. Clark developed the literacy and citizenship workshops that played an important role in the drive for voting rights and civil rights for African Americans in the American Civil Rights Movement.Septima Clark’s work was commonly under appreciated by Southern male activists. She became known as the “Queen mother” or “Grandmother” of the American Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Martin Luther King, Jr. commonly referred to Clark as “The Mother of the Movement”.Clark’s argument for her position in the civil rights movement was one that claimed “knowledge could empower marginalized groups in ways that formal legal equality couldn’t.”

Clark was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1898. Her life in Charleston was greatly affected by the era of Reconstruction, as well as power relations during the time.Charleston was strictly segregated and harshly divided by class.Her father, Peter Poinsette, was born a slave on the Joel Poinsette farm between the Waccamaw River and Georgetown. Joel Roberts Poinsett was a distinguished US politician of his time.Peter was a house servant to Joel and his main task was taking the children to and from school each day. After slavery, Peter found a job working on a ship in the Charleston harbor. During one of his travels, he went to Haiti and it was then that Peter met Victoria, Clark’s Mother. The couple got married in Jacksonville, Florida and then moved back to Charleston. 

Her mother, Victoria Warren Anderson Poinsette, was born in Charleston but raised in Haiti by her brother, who took her and her two sisters there in 1864. Victoria Poinsette had never been a slave, and vowed to never be anyone’s servant.She returned to Charleston after the Civil War and worked as a launderer. She raised her children very strictly, only permitting them to play with other children on one day of the week. She was also determined to make her daughters into ladies, so she told them never to go out without gloves on, never yell, never eat on the street, etc.Victoria Warren Anderson Poinsette lived in a constant struggle of wanting to improve her social class; she wanted to live in a middle-class society, but on a working-class budget. Victoria made it well aware to Peter that he was not providing enough for her and their family.[5] Victoria raised her children separated, with the boys having more lenient rules than the girls. The boys could have friends over and play many days of the week, but the girls had to do chores and lessons, every day other than Friday. Clark rebelled against her mother’s strictness through never becoming the lady she wished her to be and marrying a man Victoria called a “stranger”.[5] Clark remembers only ever being punished by her father when she did not want to attend school; however, Clark’s father was not able to write his own name until the later years of his life.    

Clark’s first educational experience was in 1904, she was six, and started attending Mary Street School. All Clark did at this school was sit on a set of bleachers with a hundred other six-year-olds, learning nothing. Clark’s mother quickly took her out of that school. An elderly woman across the street from their house was schooling girls, so Clark learned to read and write there. Due to Clark’s poor financial status, she watched the woman’s children every morning and afternoon and in return her tuition was paid for. At this time there was not a high school in Charleston for blacks, however, in 1914 a school opened for blacks in 6th, 7th, 8th grade. After sixth grade, she took a test and went on to ninth grade at Avery. Avery was a high school founded by missionaries from Massachusetts. All of the teachers were white women, whom Clark admired. In 1914, black teachers were hired and this brought much controversy to the city, which Clark later took part in through the NAACP.

Clark graduated from high school in 1916. Due to financial constraints, she was not able to attend college initially, took a state examination and began working as a school teacher on John’s Island at the age of eighteen. She taught on the islands from 1916-1919 at Promise Land School and then returned to Avery from 1919-1920.She was able to return to school part-time in Columbia, South Carolina to complete her B.A. at Benedict in 1942 and then she received her M.A. from Hampton.  As an African American, she was barred from teaching in the Charleston, South Carolina public schools, but was able to find a position teaching in a rural school district, on John’s Island, the largest of the Sea Islands. During this time, she taught children during the day and illiterate adults on her own time at night. During this period she developed innovative methods to rapidly teach adults to read and write, based on everyday materials like the Sears catalog.

Clark recalls the gross discrepancies that existed between her school and the white school across the street. Clark’s school had 132 students and only one other teacher.As the teaching principal, Clark made $35 per week, while the other teacher made $25. Meanwhile, the white school across the street had only three students, and the teacher who worked there received $85 per week. It was her first-hand experience with these inequalities that led Clark to become an active proponent for pay equalization for teachers. It was in 1919 that her pay equalization work brought her into the movement for civil rights.In an interview with Robert Penn Warren for the book Who Speaks for the Negro?, Clark explains how these experiences with her education, as well as her early experiences with growing up in a racist Charleston and teaching in the slums, prompted her to want to work towards civil rights.

Clark first heard of the NAACP while she was teaching on John’s Island from 1916-1919. There was no NAACP chapter on John’s Island, but a meeting was held in which various preachers came and spoke about what the NAACP was and what exactly it was trying to do. The superintendent was in attendance to collect dues and it was then that she decided to join the organization.In 1919, Clark returned to Charleston to teach sixth grade at Avery Normal Institute, a private academy for black children. In Charleston, she joined the Charleston Branch of the NAACP and began attending meetings regularly of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Under the guidance of Edmund Austin, the President of the local NAACP in Charleston, Clark took part in her first political action with the NAACP in Charleston. Despite the orders of her principal, Clark led her students around the city, going door-to-door, asking for signatures on a petition to allow black principals at Avery. She got 10,000 signatures in a day’s time and in 1920 black teachers were permitted.  In 1920, Clark enjoyed the first of many legal victories when blacks were given the right to become principals in Charleston’s public schools, under the education board of Alderman of Charleston. Her participation in the NAACP was Clark’s first statement in political action. The late-1940s proved to be a difficult time for Clark as she stood up with the NAACP’s aim of equalization to integration against many other members and activists.

While teaching at Avery from 1919-1920, Clark met Nerie David Clark. He worked as a warden cook on a submarine in the navy during WWI. In late 1920, she went to teach in McClellanville until 1922. Her and Nerie wrote letters back and forth and dated for approximately three years and got married in 1923. They got married in McClellanville and then shortly moved to Hickory, North Carolina, Nerie’s hometown. Clark’s mother was disgraced by her marriage. Victoria believed to marry any man outside of the state is to marry a stranger. She refused to have her in-laws for dinner or any occasion. The marriage severed Victoria and Septima’s relationship. While living in Hickory, with Nerie’s family, Clark became aware of the many cultural and ideal differences they had. 

They grew up in different worlds; a mountain man and a low-country girl. In Hickory, Clark attended the church Nerie’s family did, which was an African Methodist church. She found this church to be much more of a community than her church in Charleston, the United Methodist Church. Throughout Clark’s religious journey in life, she found there are many ways to serve God, rather than only one correct way. Clark got homesick, so they moved back to Charleston, where she taught at Promise Land again from 1926-1929. In Charleston, they had their first child, which died. Clark viewed the death of her baby as a punishment to her because she married a man not from South Carolina. Her mother was not sympathetic and refused to help her; however, her father was friendlier towards her. To get over her lost baby, she took a job with a white woman for a summer. They stayed in the mountains for the summer and the woman was helpless, which gave Clark optimism and hope. She then moved to Columbia and began teaching in 1929. It was in Columbia she got much more involved in civic activities.

She settled in Columbia, South Carolina in 1929, and accepted a teaching position that year. In total, it appears that Septima Clark spent a total of 17 years in Columbia, South Carolina. Much of her work there is documented by the University of South Carolina History Department which, under the direction of Dr. B. J. Donaldson, has conducted extensive research on African American education, with special emphasis on the history of the Booker T. Washington High School. In 1929, Septima Clark was employed at Booker T. Washington where she is still remembered as an outstanding educator. She worked closely with the principals of Booker T. Washington High School, both C. A. Johnson who recruited her for the teaching position she would hold for 17 years and later with J. Andrew Simmons, who was originally from Charleston and whom she may have known previous to their working together in Columbia.

While in Columbia, Septima Clark completed the foundations upon which her career, reputation, and memory would rest: she became a highly valued faculty member at Booker T. Washington High School, she completed her Bachelor’s degree at Columbia’s Benedict College, and she completed her graduate studies at New York’s Columbia University and Atlanta’s Clark College. The level and quality of the education that Septima Clark achieved was typical of what was required by the administrators of the Booker T. Washington High School of Columbia who recruited highly trained teachers from all over the country. After J. Andrew Simmons left Booker T. Washington High School to take a position in New York in 1945, Septima Clark stayed on for two additional years, before finally leaving Booker T. Washington High School, an institution she had helped to mold, in order to return to Charleston, SC to take care of her ailing mother, Victoria.

During summers, Clark began studies at Columbia University in New York, and at Atlanta University in Georgia with the landmark figure in the racial equality movement, W. E. B. Du Bois.Between 1942 and 1945, she received a bachelor’s degree from Benedict College, Columbia University and a master’s from Hampton (Virginia) Institute (now Hampton University). While getting her BA, she was taking classes in the morning, teaching from noon to five in the afternoons, and taking more classes in the evenings. She was making 62.50 dollars a month in college and every summer she traveled to Maine to make more money. The NAACP at Columbia had approximately 800 members and all were black. The biggest NAACP impact during Clark’s time at Columbia was they sponsored a suit that won the equalization of teacher salaries.

It was a huge win for the NAACP.  In 1947, Clark returned to Charleston to take care of her mother who had had a stroke. While caring for her mother Clark’s role as an educator and activist did not subside. During this time, she taught in the Charleston public schools, she was active with the YWCA, and served as membership chairperson of the Charleston NAACP. The YWCA was one of the few organizations in Charleston that was interracial. There were black and white branches.In 1956, Clark obtained the position of vice president of the Charleston NAACP branch.

That same year, the South Carolina legislature passed a law banning city or state employees from being involved with civil rights organizations. Clark believed that a combination of relations, such as social and power relations, were a major contributor to schooling.Clark was upfront in her refusal to leave the NAACP, and was thus fired from her job by the Charleston City School Board, losing her pension after 40 years employment.She soon found that no school in Charleston would hire her. A black teachers’ sorority held a fundraiser for her benefit, but no member would have their picture taken with her, fearing that they would lose their own jobs.

Around this time, Clark was active with the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. She first attended a workshop there in 1954. Myles Horton, the founder of Highlander, quickly hired her as the full-time director of workshops.Before long she was teaching literacy courses, drawing on her experience on John’s Island. “In a compressed week’s workshop, Clark promised to turn sharecroppers and other unschooled Negros into potential voters”. Highlander was one of the few interracial schools in the South at the time and Clark prospered as a teacher there. After being fired and unwelcomed in her hometown, Clark found Highlander to be a great community. In 1959, while she was teaching at Highlander she was arrested for allegedly “possessing whiskey”; however, these charges were later dropped and seen as false. Clark and her cousin, Bernice Robinson, expanded and spread the program.

They taught students how to fill out driver’s license exams, voter registration forms, Sears mail-order forms, and how to sign checks. Clark also served as Highlander’s director of workshops, recruiting teachers and students.  One of the participants in her workshops was Rosa Parks. A few months after participating in the workshops Parks helped to start the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Additionally, many other women who took part in the Montgomery Bus Boycott attended Highlander, under the teaching of Clark. Upon seeing the success of Clark, Ella Baker traveled to Highlander as a representative of SCLC and observed to see if Clark’s program could be incorporated into SCLC’s Crusade for Citizenship.

Clark is most famous for establishing “Citizenship Schools” teaching reading to adults throughout the Deep South, in hopes of carrying on a tradition.The creation of citizenship schools came as a result of Septima Clark’s teaching of adult literacy courses throughout the interwar years.While the project served to increase literacy, it also served as a means to empower Black communities. Her teaching approach was very specific in making sure her students felt invested in what they were learning, so she connected the politics of the movement to the needs of the people. She was not only teaching literacy, but also citizenship rights. Clark’s goals of the schools were to provide: self-pride, cultural-pride, literacy, and a sense of one’s citizenship rights. She was recruiting the rural communities to get involved with the movement.

Citizenship schools were frequently taught in the back room of a shop so as to elude the violence of racist whites. The teachers of citizenship schools were often people who had learned to read as adults as well, as one of the primary goals of the citizenship schools was to develop more local leaders for people’s movements. Teaching people how to read helped countless Black Southerners push for the right to vote, but beyond that, it developed leaders across the country that would help push the civil rights movement long after 1964. The citizenship schools are just one example of the empowerment strategy for developing leaders that was core to the civil rights movement in the South The citizenship schools are also seen as a form of support to Martin Luther King, Jr. in his non-violent civil rights movement.

The project was a response to legislation in Southern states which required literacy and interpreting various portions of the US Constitution in order to be allowed to register to vote. These laws were used to disenfranchise black citizens. Citizenship Schools were based on the adult literacy programs Clark and Robinson had developed at Highlander. They required a week’s worth of training in a program that was ultimately designed by Clark.Septima Clark hired her cousin Bernice Robinson, to be the first teacher. Bernice was also a Highlander alumna. In addition to literacy, Citizenship Schools also taught students to act collectively and protest against racism.

They ultimately spread to a number of Southern states, growing so large that, upon the recommendation of Myles Horton and Clark, the program was transferred to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), in 1961 though initially Martin Luther King, Jr was hesitant about the idea. Transferring the program to the SCLC was also a result of financial troubles at Highlander Folk School in Tennessee. With the increased budget of the SCLC, the citizenship school project trained over 10,000 citizenship school teachers who led citizenship schools throughout the South, representing a popular education effort on a massive scale On top of these 10,000 teachers, citizenship schools reached out and taught more than 25,000 people.[4] By 1958, 37 adults were able to pass the voter registration test as a result of the first session of community schools.  Before 1969, about 700,000 African-Americans became registered voters thanks to Clark’s dedication to the movement. Clark came to national prominence, becoming the SCLC’s director of education and teaching.

Clark was the first woman to gain a position on the SCLC board. Andrew Young, who had joined Highlander the previous year to work with the Citizenship Schools, also joined the SCLC staff. The SCLC staff of citizenship schools were mainly women, as a result of the daily experience gained by becoming a teacher.Clark would struggle against sexism during her time on the SCLC, as had Ella Baker, with the bulk of sexism emanating from Martin Luther King Jr.; Ralph Abernathy also objected to her, as Clark said, “I can remember Reverend Abernathy asking many times, why was Septima Clark on the Executive Board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference? And Dr. King would always say, ‘She was the one who proposed this citizenship education which is bringing to us not only money but a lot of people who will register and vote.’ And he asked that many times. It was hard for him to see a woman on that executive body.” Clark claimed that women being treated unequally was “one of the greatest weaknesses of the civil rights movement. 

During her career in service organizations, she also worked with the Tuberculosis Association and the Charleston Health Department. She was also an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Clark retired from active work with the SCLC in 1970. She later sought reinstatement of the pension and back salary that had been canceled when she was dismissed as a teacher in 1956, which she won. She was later to serve two terms on the Charleston County School Board.

Jimmy Carter awarded Clark a Living Legacy Award in 1979. In 1987, her second autobiography, Ready from Within: Septima Clark and the Civil Rights Movement, Wild Trees Press, (1986), won the American Book Award. Septima P. Clark died December 15, 1987. In a eulogy presented at the funeral, the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) described the importance of Clark’s work and her relationship to the SCLC. Reverend Joseph Lowery asserted that "her courageous and pioneering efforts in the area of citizenship education and interracial cooperation” won her SCLC’s highest award, the Drum Major for Justice Award.She is buried at Old Bethel United Methodist Church Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina. Her impact on organization & education in civil rights is still felt to this day.

… Why is keke palmer in the “black female civil rights leaders” section on Google?

This isn’t meant as a diss or a discredit to Keke… I’m just wondering if I missed something or am missing something about her genre in current civil rights movements.

- Susie


#ReclaimMLK proves that Martin Luther King was much more than just a dream 

The #ReclaimMLK campaign, inaugurated by the founders of Black Lives Matter, aims to remind the world that the slain civil rights leader was far more than the voice behind the famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered in Washington in 1963. Born out of a fear that King’s memory has become a sanitized version of the historical person, the #ReclaimMLK campaign dedicated the five days between King’s birthday (Jan. 15) and today’s federal holiday to acts of civil disobedience in his name. 

The #ReclaimMLK campaign exists to shatter the white-bred illusions that have, as Selma director Ava DuVernay put it, “reduced [King] to a catchphrase, four words: ‘I have a dream.’”

Black History.

I would like to take this time to honor entire Black American population.

We always honor the lawyers, doctors, athletes, entertainers, artists,

and, of course, the leaders of the civil rights movement.

But Black history is way more than that.

We are everywhere. We do everything.

And we do it all often in the face of great opposition.

Because for every one Black person just living their life,

there are at least ten Bo Bices ready to ruin their day.

The Black Panther in the 1970’s

Every spring semester the University Library System, in collaboration with Pitt’s Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), award ten students with the Archival Scholars Research Award (ASRA). This semester, seven of those students are working in Special Collections. Each month, we ask the scholars to submit blog posts demonstrating the discoveries they are making. Enjoy! 

The Black Panther Black Community News Service was hardly a static publication. Its design changed throughout its issuance, not unlike the changes undertaken by the Party itself.

Their most visual iteration is in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. This period was marked, in particular, by the colorful multimedia collages and photomanipulations often seen on the front cover, and corresponding artwork on the back covers. Minister of Culture Emory Douglas was most frequently responsible for the original artwork on the back covers, and his work was also frequently seen on the inner pages of The Black Panther.

Left: The front cover of The Black Panther (4/3/1971). Right: The back cover of The Black Panther (6/18/1972)

Other artists in the Party contributed many of the smaller pieces on the innermost pages, and the paper often ran comics from more widely-known professional cartoonists, such as the following:

Left: From The Black Panther (10/4/1969), a reprint of a cartoon by Harlem Renaissance political artist Oliver Harrington Right: From The Black Panther (12/26/1970), a drawing by Brad Brewer about the trial of the New York 21.

As the years progressed, the paper included fewer and fewer pieces in its inner pages. There continued to be photographs accompanying many pieces, though fewer of the earlier multimedia collages. When there was additional artwork, it was almost always an Emory Douglas contribution, but even he was seen less frequently: by 1977, the back covers that were once devoted to his work were more often than not spaces that featured photographs of community events or advertised official Panthers merchandise.

The content itself also pivoted. The early days of The Black Panther focused on housing themes, police brutality, and the exposure of legal and social injustices. These issues continued to be covered, but as the 1970’s progressed, there was a notable shift in tone, and the paper contained more along the lines of community uplift. There was frequent coverage of the programs the Party facilitated, including the children’s breakfast programs, as well as free clinics for sickle cell anemia testing, the Oakland Community School, and conferences. By 1976, each publication included a section entitled ‘This Week In Black History,’ which documented significant events such as Union victories, Civil Rights Protests, and the births and deaths of black leaders and artists. Additionally, while continuing to advertise official Panthers merchandise, the paper regularly featured small black-owned businesses and products.

Left: An advertisement for the Oakland Community School, printed on August 7, 1976. Right: From 2-7-1976, an advertisement for Elaine Brown’s album and a black history film series.

-Maureen Jones, Archival Scholars Research Awardee ‘17

I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.
—  Malcolm X. Rest in Peace, King!

When the American settlers wrote documents such as the Constitution or came up with phrases such as “liberty and justice for all,” they didn’t refer to the African slaves they brought. Thomas Jefferson said that this is a land where everybody is treated equal, but he didn’t treat the slaves like the white settlers. According to W. E. B. Dubois, blacks do not receive equality today because it was never meant for them from the start.

Throughout history, the American justice system was never to apply to African Americans. When justice and civil rights policies were passed, racists always found a way to create policies to prevent the blacks from benefitting. When the Emancipation Proclamation was passed, they came up with the Jim Crow laws to allow legal discrimination and prevents blacks from having equal rights. Once the Civil Rights Act was passed, they started the War on Drugs to incarcerate us.

The racists do unjust things to blacks today that are similar to the unjust things racists did to them back then. The prison system is a way that they get free labor from blacks and there are more men in prison today than before the Civil War. There are laws that permit legal discrimination on those released from prison just like the Jim Crow laws permitted legal discrimination. The rate of these police shootings on blacks is the same as the lynching rate back then. Nothing has changed even though the Civil Rights Act was passed. America isn’t colorblind like some say it is.


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.


August 17th 1887: Marcus Garvey born

On this day in 1887, black activist Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica. The youngest of eleven children, the young Garvey was a keen reader, but left school aged fourteen to begin working as an apprentice. In his early twenties, Garvey traveled extensively around Central and Southern America, writing about the exploitation of migrant labour, and attended university in the United Kingdom. In 1914, once back in Jamaica, Garvey founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), and, after corresponding with Booker T. Washington, moved to New York City to promote the movement. Marcus Garvey was a passionate and electrifying speaker, touring the United States eloquently arguing for pride in African-American heritage and promoting black nationalism. He is best known as an advocate of the ‘Back to Africa’ movement, which urged African-Americans to return to their ancestral homeland to strive for economic and social freedom, facilitated by Garvey’s Black Star Line company. He was also a proponent of pan-Africanism, a movement which calls for the unity of the African diaspora to empower and uplift people of African descent. By 1920, the UNIA claimed four million members from around the world. Garvey’s actions provoked the ire of white Americans and the United States government, and in 1922 he was arrested for alleged mail fraud. In what was likely a politically-motivated case, Garvey was imprisoned and later deported to Jamaica. Marcus Garvey died in London in 1940, aged fifty-two, but is remembered today as the inspiration for the Nation of Islam and Rastafari movements, and as a major black civil rights leader.

“We have a beautiful history, and we shall create another in the future that will astonish the world”