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African American civil rights and segregation during the 1950s

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 C I V I L  R I G H T S  O F  A F R I C A N  A M E R I C A N S 

 1 9 5 0 ' s - 1 9 6 0 ' s



A fun and informative tour brochure of major events during the African American civil rights movement

The "Montgomery Bus Boycott" from December 1955-December 1956 protested transportation segregation due to Rosa Parks, and countless others being persecuted. The SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) formed from other boycott organizations. This forced bus companies to reconsider the policy,  from the loss of money the boycott caused. (Shown above)

On May 14, 1961, the Greyhound bus transporting "Freedom Riders", designed to promote the integration of transportation, was viciously attacked by the KKK in Anniston, Alabama, beating the riders and fire bombing the bus. These attackers had the support of politicians and local law enforcement, and it reached its purpose: to raise the commotion about racism in the south. (Shown above)

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The "Letter from Birmingham City Jail" in Birmingham, Alabama, was written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in response to doubts on peaceful protests, on April 16, 1963, outlining and defending the effect of nonviolent demurral on racism, persuades more people to join his cause. (Shown above)

On September 15, 1963, just before Sunday mass starts at the 16th Street Baptist Church, in Birmingham Alabama, a bomb explodes, killing four young girls and 
injuring countless
others. This attack
sends the nation
into shock, and
national outrage,
protests, and
riots occur.
(Shown above)

On August 6, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. leads multiple marches from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, protesting unequal voting rights and segregation. Law enforcement and white men tried breaking up the nonviolence protest with violence, killing one and hospitalizing others. The marchers kept coming back though, and it worked. Soon after, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting discrimination in voting between African American and Caucasian voters. (Shown below)

Little Rock Arkansas, September 1857 featured nine African American students known as the "Little Rock Nine" registered to attend Central High School but was refused entrance by not only racist white students but also the Arkansas national guard and law enforcement, ordered by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. Eisenhower along with the rest of the nation was outraged, and the President hand-wrote orders of the national guard to escort the "Little Rock Nine" into Central High School in Arkansas, commencing the racial integration of public schools across the south.

In 1960, a small sit-in at a Woolworth’s Five and Dime (pictured right) in Greensboro, North Carolina inspired a national movement of desegregation. Four African American students from the Agricultural and Technological College of North Carolina took vacant seats at a “whites only” counter, and were refused service. They were joined by many others, and eventually, the sit-in reached numbers in the hundreds. Lasting over two weeks, it inspired similar events all over the country. By the following year, 126 restaurants had been integrated. (Shown right).



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Between 1951 and 1954, Monroe Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas was a site of much tension in during the American civil rights movement. According to an 1879 state law that required segregation, Monroe (shown above) was one of only four elementary schools for African American students, alongside twenty for white students. Thirteen parents of twenty African American students filed a case through the NAACP to challenge this law. The case eventually made it to the United States Supreme Court, called Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. The court found that separate schools were inherently unequal, superseding the “separate but equal” doctrine established by the Plessy v. Ferguson case in 1896. Segregated schools became illegal under federal law, but were not put into place in many states until the late 20th century. (Shown above)


Only a few years after Brown v. Board of Education, The University of Mississippi became a battleground in the fight for integration in education. An African American student named James Meredith applied to the college, wishing to become its first African American student, but was denied twice. Backed by the NAACP, he filed a suit against UM, claiming that he was denied purely for his race. The United States Supreme Court eventually ruled that Meredith had the right to be admitted to the university. Despite resistance from Mississippi’s governor, Ross Barnett; and the state legislature, Meredith was accompanied by 500 US marshals and on September 29, 1962, became the first black student at UM (pictured above). Riots occurred in response but were put down by the state's national guard and federal troops. Meredith's admission to the University of Mississippi was a pivotal moment in the African American civil rights movement and crucial step towards racial equality. (Shown above)


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In 1964, three young civil rights activists (pictured left) disappeared. James Chaney and Michael Schwerner worked for the Congress of Racial Equality, and Andrew Goodman was a student volunteer for the Freedom Summer campaign. The three were pulled over in a CORE vehicle and arrested. Police notified local KKK members, which were waiting when the three were released from jail. A mob then kidnapped and murdered the three men. In the process of searching for the victims, the FBI discovered eight other African American bodies. The case made national news, but only because Goodman and Schwerner were white. (Shown left)

Medgar Evers was an icon of the African American civil rights movement. Upon returning from the European theater of WWII, he became the NAACP field secretary of Mississippi, facing threats and violence. A forerunner to James Meredith, he worked to desegregate the University of Mississippi Law School, while investigating racially charged crimes and recruiting new members to the NAACP. In 1963, Medgar Evers was shot and killed in his driveway. His murder was a visible one of a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and illustrated the blatant racism and violence of the times. The Medgar Evers house was made a national historic landmark in 2017. (Shown below)


The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was perhaps the most iconic event in the African American civil rights movement. The years prior had been characterized by violence, racism, and injustice across the nation. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (pictured to the right) planned a march that would protest the exclusion of African Americans from WWII and the lack of action in Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act. The march was supported and sponsored by several civil rights organizations, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Urban League (NUL). On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people participated in the march, more than 50,000 of them white (pictured to the right). The March on Washington remains one of the largest political demonstrations in American history. The event culminated in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (pictured to the right). Both the speech and King himself became influential symbols of the American civil rights movement.

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Civil Rights Tour Map

1. Lincoln Memorial - site of "I Have A Dream" speech--Washington D.C. (August 28, 1963)

2. Greensboro - Woolworth's Five and Dime-- North Carolina (July 25, 1960)

3. Philadelphia - Disappearance of James Chaney, Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman--Mississippi (June 21, 1964)

4. Jackson - Medgar Evers House--Mississippi (June 12, 1963)

5. Oxford - James Meredith enrolls at the University of Mississippi--Mississippi (October 1, 1962)

6. Topeka - Monroe Elementary School (Brown vs. Board of Education Historic Site)--Kansas (October 26, 1992)

7. Little Rock - Central High School -- Arkansas (September 1957)

8. Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail--Alabama (August 6, 1965)

9. Montgomery - Bus Boycott--Alabama (December 5, 1955- December 20, 1956)

10. Birmingham - Bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church--Alabama ( September 15, 1963)

11. Birmingham - Letter from a Birmingham Jail--Alabama ( April 16, 1963)

 12. Anniston -  Freedom Rides--Alabama ( May 14, 1961)


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