vintage civil rights

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CultureHISTORY: The “Lost Friends” Ads - New Orleans, LA (1879-1880)

A heartbreaking piece featuring the newly digitized collection of original advertisements from a New Orleans newspaper between November 1879 and December 1880. Because it was part of the institution of slavery to split up families, after the Civil War, African Americans began the search for their lost kin. Once they were free, this was one of the few options former slaves had to try and find their families. Writing ads in local newspapers. Just another piece of American History.

Full article via Slate with more ads, The Hopeful, Heartbreaking Ads Placed by Formerly Enslaved People In Search Of Lost Family

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reacts in St. Augustine, Fla., after learning that the senate passed the civil rights bill, June 19, 1964.

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Malcolm X photographed by Gordon Parks for LIFE magazine promoting the Muhammad Speaks newspaper, 1962.

On the night of April 27, 1962, scores of policemen ransacked the Nation of Islam Mosque in Los Angeles and wounded seven unarmed Muslims, leaving Ronald Stokes dead and William Rogers who is seen in the wheelchair above paralyzed.

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was an anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches. She played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

Born in Kovno, Russian Empire (present-day Kaunas, Lithuania), Goldman emigrated to the United States in 1885. Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket affair, Goldman became a writer and a renowned lecturer on anarchist philosophy, women’s rights, and social issues, attracting crowds of thousands. She and anarchist writer Alexander Berkman, her lover and lifelong friend, planned to assassinate industrialist and financier Henry Clay Frick as an act of propaganda of the deed. Frick survived the attempt on his life in 1892 and Berkman was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Goldman was imprisoned several times in the years that followed, for “inciting to riot” and illegally distributing information about birth control. In 1906, Goldman founded the anarchist journal Mother Earth.

In 1917, Goldman and Berkman were sentenced to two years in jail for conspiring to “induce persons not to register” for the newly instated draft. After their release from prison, they were arrested—along with hundreds of others—and deported to her native Russia. Initially supportive of that country’s Bolshevik revolution, Goldman reversed her opinion in the wake of the Kronstadt rebellion and denounced the Soviet Union for its violent repression of independent voices. In 1923, she published a book about her experiences, My Disillusionment in Russia. While living in England, Canada, and France, she wrote an autobiography called Living My Life. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, she traveled to Spain to support the anarchist revolution there. She died in Toronto on May 14, 1940, aged 70.

During her life, Goldman was lionized as a free-thinking “rebel woman” by admirers, and denounced by detractors as an advocate of politically motivated murder and violent revolution. Her writing and lectures spanned a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, free love, and homosexuality. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women’s suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. After decades of obscurity, Goldman’s iconic status was revived in the 1970s, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest in her life.

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Malcolm X and Maya Angelou in Ghana, 1964.

Malcolm X on his last visit to Accra had announced a desire to create a foundation he called the Organization of Afro-American Unity. His proposal included taking the plight of the African-Americans to the United Nations and asking the world council to intercede on the part of beleaguered blacks. The idea was so stimulating to the community of African-American residents that I persuaded myself I should return to the States to help establish the organization. 

We all read Malcolm’s last letter to me.

Dear Maya,

I was shocked and surprised when your letter arrived but I was also pleased because I only had to wait two months for this one whereas previously I had to wait almost a year. You see I haven’t lost my wit. (smile)

Your analysis of our people’s tendency to talk over the head of the masses in a language that is too far above and beyond them is certainly true. You can communicate because you have plenty of (soul) and you always keep your feet firmly rooted on the ground.

I am enclosing some articles that will give you somewhat of an idea of my daily experiences here and you will then be better able to understand why it sometimes takes me a long time to write. I was most pleased to learn that you might be hitting in this direction this year. You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful woman. You know that I will always do my utmost to be helpful to you in any way possible so don’t hesitate.

Signed
Your brother Malcolm 

(Excerpt from Maya Angelou’s memoir A Song Flung Up To Heaven)

Q&A with Eleanor Roosevelt, The Ladies’ Home Journal, May 1948

Sometimes I think we are a little too calm when we run up against this type of prejudice. 

One might suggest that democracy is today at the crossroads, and unless we show some zeal in fighting for fundamental democratic beliefs, we may find other beliefs in the ascendancy. 

Sooner or later a nation has to make up its mind to be a united nation or fall apart..

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Malcolm X with his daughter Qubilah Shabazz in Harlem on February 20, 1965.  

He was assassinated the next day at the Audubon Ballroom in front of his wife and children.

(Photos by Duilio Pallottelli)

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou, in 1934. She refused to perform for segregated audiences in America and is equally known for her work in the Civil Rights Movement.