Civil Rights

Note: Click on the title of the document for a complete version and bibliographic information

'I Was Barely 14'
Lurma Rackley | Tyrone, Georgia

This first-hand account describes a young teenaged girl’s experiences with being arrested for her part in a picket line protesting segregation.

'I Think We Accomplished Something'
Mr. James Lutz, Kirkland, Washington

This first-hand account is from a college student who participated in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. He talks about the preparation for the march and the effect the experience had on him.

'I Refused to Allow Them to Win'
LaVon W. Bracy | Orlando, Florida

This first-hand account is from a high school senior who volunteered to attend an all white school in Florida. She describes some of her difficulties that year and explains why she finished out the year at that school.

'If They Come Into the Restaurant
We Will Serve Them'

Kay Golden | Charlotte, North Carolina

This first-hand account tells the experience of a white waitress at a diner in a town where the Freedom Riders were coming through. She discusses how the staff responded and what she took away from the experience and the tension.

'I Remember Wondering What...Was Happening'
Ms. Beverly Gatewood, Plano, Texas

This first-hand account tells the story of a 12 year-old child witnessing the resistance to school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Congratulatory letter to NAACP on Brown decision (1954)
William L. Patterson

This is an excerpt of a letter written by William L. Patterson, the executive secretary of the Civil Rights Congress, to Walter White, the executive secretary of the NAACP after the Brown decision. Key ideas to note in the letter are the expected effects of the court’s decision and the idea that the NAACP must continue in its quest for equality for African Americans.

Bayard Rustin Quote
Liberation magazine

This brief quote by Bayard Rustin (organizer of March on Washington) explains what he viewed must happen after the successful March on Washington in 1963.

Excerpt of Fourteenth Amendment
U.S. Constitution

This is an excerpt of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The due process clause in this document is of key importance in the reasoning behind the decisions in many civil rights cases, including the Brown decision.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote

This brief quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. illustrates how he viewed the role of young people in the struggle for desegregation of schools.

Excerpt from Brown v. Board decision
Earl Warren

This is an excerpt from the Supreme Court decision in the case Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. It was written by Earl Warren and concludes that separate schools are unequal. It states that segregated schools violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Justice Warren’s personal copy of the decision, he noted in the margin to emphasize that the decision was unanimous, even though it was expected that the justices would be divided on the issue of constitutionality of segregated schools.

Excerpt from 'I Have a Dream'
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is an excerpt of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on August 28, 1963 at the conclusion of the March on Washington. The excerpt begins about midway through this iconic speech and goes through the end. Notice King’s references to the difficulties activists faced throughout the civil rights movement, his encouragement for continuing action, his dream for the success of the civil rights movement, as well as allusions to the patriotic song “This Land is Your Land” and the spiritual song “We Shall Overcome.”

Letter from Daisy Bates to NAACP Executive Secretary, Roy Wilkins
Daisy Bates

This is a letter from Daisy Bates to NAACP Executive Secretary, Roy Wilkins. In the letter, she describes the treatment of the Little Rock Nine in school and the actions of the administration.

Draft of Article/Letter from Donald Murray
Donald Murray, first African American student admitted to U. of Maryland Law School

This is a draft of an article/letter from Donald Murray describing his experience as the first African American admitted to University of Maryland’s law school in 1935.




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