Civil Rights

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This is a cartoon by Oliver Harrington illustrating the hypocrisy of continuing segregation after World War II

This is a cartoon by Oliver Harrington illustrating the hypocrisy of continuing segregation after World War II.

African American students at the lunch counter of a Woolworth store in North Carolina ,1960
This iconic image is of a group of African American students at the lunch counter of a Woolworth store in North Carolina. They were refused service but did not leave the counter. This type of nonviolent demonstration spread to other U.S. cities and remained peaceful on the part of the students. The students were often verbally and sometimes physically abused during these demonstrations, but they had the effect of forcing integration in many businesses.

Freedom Riders Map

The Freedom Riders of the early 1960s, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) rode through the South seeking to integrate the bus, rail and airport terminals. This Associated Press release includes a map and a descriptive text that illustrates the routes taken and the history behind the freedom rides. The map image is included here.

March on Washington

This photograph shows one scene from the March on Washington from August 28, 1963. You can see the various people who attended the march: white, black, men, and women.

The Weary Picket comic

This cartoon by Brumsic Brandon illustrates the ongoing struggle for civil rights and the participation of people of all ages. Notice the reference to the spiritual, “We Shall Overcome,” as well as the nonviolent method of protest: picketing.

Teenage girls arrested after demonstrating in Georgia

This picture of teenaged girls who were arrested for demonstrating in Georgia was taken by Danny Lyon. Lyon was the first staff photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a national group of college students who joined together after the first sit-in by four African American college students at a North Carolina lunch counter. From 1963 to 1964, Lyon traveled the South and Mid-Atlantic regions capturing telling moments like this. This photograph is part of a limited edition portfolio that Lyon produced to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the civil rights struggle.

Rally at Arkansas Capital

This photograph shows a group of citizens protesting the admission of African American students to the high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Notice the mix of people present: young, old, women, and children, as well as the presence of the American flag. How does this photo represent the various concepts people have of being an American?

Mob Marching to Central High

This photograph shows an African American boy witnessing a group of people march in protest to the desegregation of the high school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Again, notice the presence of the American flag.

James Meredith

In 1962, a federal court ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith. Though the governor said he would never allow the school to be integrated, Meredith did enroll at Ole Miss, accompanied by federal officials. He graduated in August 1963. In 1966, Meredith began the March Against Fear from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi hoping to illustrate the positive changes in race relations.

Ruby Bridges

This photo is of Ruby Bridges, who was one of the first children selected to integrate the public schools in New Orleans. She was 6 years old when she was chosen to attend the previously all white school. In protest over desegregation, the parents of her classmates withdrew their children from school, and Ruby finished the year alone with her teacher. The Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With” featured in Look Magazine was inspired by Ruby’s walk to school escorted by US Marshals.

Troops Escorting Students to Central High

On September 24, Little Rock Mayor Woodrow Mann sent a special request for federal assistance to President Dwight Eisenhower. The following day nine African American students entered Central High School under the protection of members of the 101st Airborne Division of the U. S. Army, shown here. The Little Rock Nine, as they have become known, finished the school year in 1958. One of the students, Ernest Green graduated that year with the help of federal protection. In September 1958, Governor Faubus closed all high schools in Little Rock. They reopened in August 1959 with the protection of local police. Only four of the nine students returned.

Gov. Wallace

This image of Governor George Wallace blocking the entrance to the University of Alabama is one of the most recognized of all the images from the civil rights period. On June 11, 1963, Wallace, surrounded by Alabama state troopers, confronted and blocked Assistant U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and the African American students from entering the university. President Kennedy had to federalize the National Guard and send them to the campus to assist with the integration process. Wallace did eventually step aside and allow the students to register.

Inch by Inch

Despite the legal mandate to integrate, school districts were slow to accommodate African American children, as Bill Mauldin metaphorically shows here with three young students working hard to open the door of "School Segregation" a mere crack. At its annual meeting in 1960, the National Education Association rejected proposals to support the Supreme Court decision, instead opting for a watered-down resolution describing integration as "an evolving process." Because of school boards' reluctance to follow either the letter or the spirit of the law, segregation remained in effect well into the 1960s.

de facto segregation

Herb Block applauds the growing activism of the Civil Rights Movement in this cartoon. He shows an African American practically pushed into the street by a white man, while signs on all the buildings that line the street speak of restrictions on blacks. Block's cartoon reflects events of its time. In efforts to compel school districts to end de facto [in practice, rather than by law] segregation in the North and to reduce school overcrowding, African American parents in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, and other areas publically demonstrated. President Kennedy, in a speech given on August 28, 1963, urged Americans to "accelerate our effort to achieve equal rights for all our citizens."

Brown v Board

The case that gave the Brown v. Board of Education decision its name originated in a Federal District Court in Topeka, Kansas. The Russell Daily News, serving the city and county of Russell, Kansas, announced the decision with a banner headline and two front page stories. On the day of the decision, this evening newspaper carried United Press reports from Washington, D.C., and from Topeka, along with the ruling and the Kansas Attorney General's statement of intention to comply.

Parent explaining Brown decisions

The Supreme Court's decision on the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 marked a culmination in a plan the NAACP had put into action more than forty years earlier--the end to racial inequality. African American parents throughout the country like Mrs. Hunt, shown here, explained to their children why this was an important moment in history.

March on Montgomery

This image shows a group of participants in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. Notice the various races and ages of participants, as well as the presence of the American flag.

Little Rock Nine

This picture shows African American students arriving at school in Little Rock, Arkansas. These students were part of the “Little Rock Nine,” the first group of high school students to integrate Central High School.

Aerial View on Montgomery March

This image shows the large group of people taking part in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested in December 1955, she set off a train of events that generated a momentum the civil rights movement had never before experienced. Local civil rights leaders were hoping for such an opportunity to test the city's segregation laws. Deciding to boycott the buses, the African American community soon formed a new organization to supervise the boycott, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., was chosen as the first MIA leader. The boycott, more successful than anyone hoped, led to a 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregated buses. This image shows the front page of the Montgomery Advertiser reporting on the meeting.

Signing Voting Rights Act

The 1965 Voting Rights Act created a significant change in the status of African Americans throughout the South. The Voting Rights Act prohibited the states from using literacy tests, interpreting the Constitution, and other methods of excluding African Americans from voting. Prior to this, only an estimated twenty-three percent of voting-age blacks were registered nationally, but by 1969 the number had jumped to sixty-one percent. This image shows a page in the US News and World Report including a picture of President Lyndon Johnson signing the bill into law.


15 year-old Dorothy Geraldine Counts was one of the first 3 African American students to attend a previously all white high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Angry white mobs yelled and taunted her on the way to school.

Little Rock

Photograph shows a group of people, one holding a Confederate flag, surrounding speakers and the National Guard, protesting the admission of the “Little Rock Nine” to Central High School, 1959.




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