African American History Part 3
African Americans continued to live their lives. After the Civil War, the evil Confederacy was defeated. Traitors (who believed in the evil of slavery) were not showing the rebel flag anymore. This was the time of Reconstruction. Reconstruction was an era of monumental changes in American history. It gave to life much progressive legislation. Reconstruction was one of the greatest experiments in the fight for democratic change in human history. For the first time in American history, black people were elected to state and national offices in a massive scale. Still, white racists in the Ku Klux Klan, the Red Shirts, etc. continued to terrorize black people and their supporters throughout the South, etc. With the 13th, 14, and 15th Amendments, legalized slavery would be eliminated. The Freedmen Bureau gave black people educational opportunities. The Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 or the Civil Rights Act of 1871 allowed the federal government to use federal troops if necessary to protect the human rights of Black Americans. HBCUs grew during Reconstruction from Fisk to Howard University. Black people migrated to other parts of the nation in order to achieve a better life. Robert Smalls, Hiram Revels, Blanche Bruce and other heroic black leaders were in the political realm to fight for social change. Many black people organized more institutions and businesses. Yet, black people still didn’t have total equality in America. Women were deprived of the right to vote until the 1920’s. After the 1877 Compromise (which was the end of Reconstruction), Jim Crow grew into the next level in the South and the Midwest. The Era of Jim Crow was an era of terror, murder, lynching, and other atrocities. Pregnant black women were murdered by brutish bigots. Children were murdered by racists as well. Lynch mobs would terrorize black people in pogroms (from the Massacre in Memphis in 1866 to the Tulsa murder of black people in the 1920’s. Black Wall Street was a prosperous community and it was destroyed by racist terrorists). Many black people were forced in de facto slavery in the peonage system until the 20th century.
The May 12, 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision legalized Jim Crow nationwide under the nefarious guise of “separate but equal.” Also, during the late 19th century and early 20th century, black people resisted evil. They formed groups like the NAACP, the UNIA, the African Black Brotherhood, etc. in order to fight for black liberation. During this time, many black people have shown music, artistic expression, and ideological diversity. Not every black person back then or today agreed on everything. Leaders like WEB DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, Mary McLeod Bethune, Ella Baker, and other black people would voice their views in public. A Philip Randolph advanced labor rights. That era from 1865 to 1954 included turmoil and courage. It included defeats and triumphs and it presented the world the great courage, the strength, and the resiliency of black Americans. It was a time where many black people formed many organizations and institutions that desired black self-determination and a growth of power. Black people also opposed colonialism overseas during this time period. Ida B. Wells was a great black woman who fought lynching and defended black human rights throughout her life. Unsung heroes like Charles Hamilton Houston (who was a magnificent lawyer) helped to end Jim Crow apartheid once and for all. Jim Crow wasn’t just about a violation of human rights and the freedom of association. Jim Crow involved lynching, the deprivation of voting rights, rapes, the denial of democratic freedoms, and terrorism. Black folks experienced terror under Jim Crow. From Reconstruction to the Board V. Board of Education decision (of 1954 which banned segregation in public schools), we see unique changes going on in Black America.
Still, we rise.
Reconstruction lasted for over 10 years, but it had a very far reaching impact in American history and especially involving the lives of black Americans. It lasted from 1865 to 1877. Some scholars believe that Reconstruction began as early as January 1, 1863 (or the time of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which classified black human beings in most Confederate territories as free) as many people planned Reconstruction like policies before the Civil War ended. By January 31, 1865, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This abolished slavery and submitted this policy to the states for ratification. In March 3, 1865, Congress passed a bill that formed the Freedman’s Bureau, which helped ex-slaves to survive during the Reconstruction era. The Freedmen’s Bureau provided food, clothing, fuel, and advice on negotiating labor contracts. It helped many black people to vote, form political parties, and the control of labor. Later, the Freedman bank would existed to help the economics of black people. The Klan still attacked black people and the Bureau. Reports from the Freedmen’s Bureau documented the racist pogroms against black people. The report included sworn testimony from soldiers and officials of the Freedmen's Bureau. In Selma, Alabama, Major J.P. Houston noted that whites, who killed twelve African Americans in his district, never came to trial. Many more killings never became official cases. Captain Poillon described white patrols in southwestern Alabama brutalized black people. Black women were raped too by criminals during Reconstruction.
Reconstruction was a transformation of Southern life. It revolutionized America and many African Americans received many blessings. Likewise, terrorism against black people didn’t end with Reconstruction. White racists used old and new tactics in trying to deprive black people of inalienable human rights.
Three major factions were involved in Reconstruction. One faction was the group who wanted total political and economic plus social equality for black people. The second faction wanted total reconciliation between the North and the South immediately. The other faction was made up of overt white supremacist racists who used terror and violence to try to end the fight for equality for black Americans.
Black Codes as early as before 1865 existed in the South in order to deprive black people of human rights. To understand Reconstruction, we must go chronologically as it pertains to history. First, the Civil War ended by 1865. The South was heavily destroyed of much of its infrastructure from homes to railroads. Cities like Richmond, Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia lay in ruins. Illiteracy rates among black and white people in the South were high. Farms were in disrepair. Mules and cattle were depleted. 40 percent of the South’s livestock had been killed. High inflation was in the South causing economic turmoil. Sharecropping existed where many black families worked with low wages and experienced brutal conditions at the hands of corporate exploiters. More African Americans traveled into urban communities of the South, the Midwest, the West Coast, and the North. Black men worked as rail workers, rolling and lumber mills workers, and hotel workers. The large population of slave artisans during the antebellum period had not been translated into a large number of freemen artisans during Reconstruction. Black women were largely confined to domestic work employed as cooks, maids, and child nurses. Others worked in hotels or became teachers. A large number became laundresses. Other legislation was signed that broadened equality and rights for African Americans. Lincoln outlawed discrimination on account of color, in carrying U.S. mail, in riding on public street cars in Washington D.C., and in pay for soldiers. Black people celebrated their freedom from racial tyranny and slavery.
Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson knew that the South would be defeated by the end of the Civil War. They would likewise take a moderate position of allowing future ex-Confederates to be assimilated to the Union as soon as possible without much recriminations sent to them. This policy is a policy that I course disagree with. Criminals, who oppressed black people, must be punished. Lincoln wanted his Ten percent plan to be executed in many states to speed up Reconstruction. The Radical Republicans did the right thing and oppose such moderate policies. They wanted to punish harshly ex-Confederates since they were involved in splitting up the Union and oppressing the lives of black people overtly. Radical Republicans like Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania and Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts were leaders in that movement. They wanted harsh terms and promoted the rights of the freedmen (or black people). Many Native American tribes supported the Union. Other Native American tribes supported the Confederacy and had black slaves too. The Five Tribes of Oklahoma supported the Confederacy. Before Abraham Lincoln was killed, Lincoln spoke wanted to enfranchisement a certain number of black human beings and leniency to ex-Confederates. Johnson agreed with leniency, but he opposed giving voting rights to black people.
President Abraham Lincoln set up reconstructed governments in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana during the Civil War. Lincoln also gave land to former slaves in South Carolina in an experiment. Lincoln wanted some black people to vote, especially black Union military veterans (not universal suffrage. I believe in total universal suffrage). Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by that murderer and coward John Wilkes Booth in April of 1865. Therefore, Andrew Johnson was the new President during the beginning of Reconstruction. Johnson was not only one of the worst Presidents in history. He was also one of the most racist Presidents in American history. He overtly didn’t agree with racial equality. Andrew Johnson by the fall of 1865, viewed Reconstruction as over and the ending of slavery completed. Yet, Reconstruction was not over. Thaddeus Stevens vehemently opposed President Johnson's plans for an abrupt end to Reconstruction, insisting that Reconstruction must "revolutionize Southern institutions, habits, and manners...The foundations of their institutions...must be broken up and relaid, or all our blood and treasure have been spent in vain." Andrew Johnson opposed an attempt to expand rights for black Americans. The good news is that the Congressional elections of 1866 in the North caused the Radical Republicans to take control of political policy. Former Confederates were not in power. Therefore, the Radical Republicans in many cases overrode Johnson’s vetoes in order to enfranchise the freedmen.
A Republican coalition came to power by 1866 in nearly all the southern states and set out to transform the society by setting up a free labor economy, using the U.S. Army and the Freedmen's Bureau. The Bureau protected the legal rights of freedmen, negotiated labor contracts, and set up schools and churches for them. Thousands of Northerners came South as missionaries, teachers, businessmen, and politicians.
Many Northerners who came to the South to help promote equality and justice were slurred by right wing Southerners as "Carpetbaggers." Rebuilding the rundown railroad system was a major strategy, but it collapsed when a nationwide depression (called the Panic of 1873) struck the economy. The Radicals in the House of Representatives, frustrated by Johnson's opposition to Congressional Reconstruction, filed impeachment charges but the action failed by one vote in the Senate. In early 1866, Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau and Civil Rights Bills and sent them to Johnson for his signature. The first bill extended the life of the bureau, originally established as a temporary organization charged with assisting refugees and freed slaves, while the second defined all persons born in the United States as national citizens who were to enjoy equality before the law. Andrew Johnson vetoed the bill. This caused a division in government. Johnson would be impeached in 1868. Congress overridden his veto and caused the Civil Rights Act to be the first major bill in the history of America to become law through an override of a Presidential veto.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 made black people full U.S. citizens (and this repealed the Dred Scott decision). In other words, all people born in America are now citizens as stated by the Civil Rights Act of 1866. In the same year, ex-Confederate soldiers formed the racist Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee. They Klan for over 100 years have killed, raped, and assaulted black people (and others). It is a paramilitary insurgent group too. On May 1, 1866, more and more black people came into the city of Memphis. White policemen (who were angry at black people coming into Memphis) instigated a race riot where more than 40 people died. In July 1866, the New Orleans riot involved white people harming and killing black Americans. In September 21, 1866, the Buffalo soldiers were formed. They were an U.S. Army regiment made up of African Americans. In 1867, Congress removed civilian governments in the South and the former Confederacy was placed under the rule of the U.S. army. So, the army conducted new elected in which freed slaves could vote while whites (who had held leading positions in the evil Confederacy) were temporarily denied the vote (and they weren’t permitted to run for office).
During this time of Reconstruction, black educational institutions grew. Morehouse College was founded in the basement of Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia by the time of February 14, 1867 (it was called the Augusta Institute back then). Howard University was founded in Washington, D.C. in March 2, 1867. The Hampton Institute was founded in April 1, 1868 in Hampton, Virginia. Educational opportunities expanded for many black Americans during this time period. By 1900, the literacy rate in the black community radically increased.
After Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant was President of the United States. He enforced the protection of the African Americans in the South. He supported Radical Reconstruction. Grant passed the Enforcement Act. The Enforcement Acts were used to combat the Ku Klux Klan. It was very successful in eradicating a large part of Klan terror in the South. Yet, new white racist vigilante groups would develop to harm the lives of black people and others during this time. Political tensions still rose. Many Republicans felt that Reconstruction should not go further while others viewed it as not going far enough. Many white Southerners supported Reconstruction and they were called Scalawags. Terror was so bad against black people that the Union allowed Southern states to have Union troops to protect black citizens. The safety provided by the troops did not last long, and white southerners frequently terrorized black voters. Coalitions of white and black Republicans passed bills to establish the first public school systems in most states of the South, although sufficient funding was hard to find. Blacks established their own churches, towns and businesses. This has grown black infrastructure, which is good since black infrastructure must be developed in order for black liberation to exist.
Tens of thousands migrated to Mississippi for the chance to clear and own their own land, as 90% of the bottomlands were undeveloped. By the end of the 19th century, two-thirds of the farmers who owned land in the Mississippi Delta bottomlands were black.
In this time Southern black men began to vote and they elected many black men to the United States Congress, local offices, sheriffs, and state government offices too. This was historic. Hiram Revels was the first black Senator in the U.S. Congress in 1870. Hiram Revels was selected by the Mississippi legislature (in February 21, 1870) to replace the traitor and racist Jefferson Davis. There were many other African Americans in Congress from South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. These new politicians fought for Reconstruction and wanted to bring more improvements to the lives of African Americans. Blanche K. Bruce was another U.S. Senator and he was African American. African Americans elected to the House of Representatives during this time included Benjamin S. Turner, Josiah T. Walls, Joseph H. Rainey, Robert Brown Elliot, Robert D. De Large, and Jefferson H. Long. Frederick Douglass also served in the different government jobs during Reconstruction. These jobs included Minister Resident and Counsel General to Haiti, Recorder of Deeds, and U.S. Marshall. Bruce worked to fight for the human rights of African Americans, Chinese immigrants, and Native Americans. African
Americans further developed our own national African American identity. Thousands of black northerners left their homes in order to help build schools, newspapers, and businesses in the South. Elizabeth Keckly published “Behind the Scenes or Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House” on 1868. In 10 states, there was the coalitions of freedman, black and white new arrivals from the North, white Southerners who supported Reconstruction (or scalawags) came together to form Republican biracial state governments. They funded public schools, organized charitable institutions, raised taxes, and offered massive aid. This aid was used to improve railroad transportation and shipping in the South. Conservative opponents of Reconstruction instituted violence against freedmen and white people who supported Reconstruction. President Grant did a lot of positive actions to fight the Klan.
In Grant's two terms he strengthened Washington's legal capabilities to directly intervene to protect citizenship rights even if the states ignored the problem. He worked with Congress to create the Department of Justice and Office of Solicitor General, led by Attorney General Amos Akerman and the first Solicitor General Benjamin Bristow. Congress passed three powerful Enforcement Acts in 1870–71. These were criminal codes which protected the Freedmen's right to vote, to hold office, to serve on juries, and to receive equal protection of laws. Most important, they authorized the federal government to intervene when states did not act. Grant's new Justice Department prosecuted thousands of Klansmen under the tough new laws. Grant sent federal troops to nine South Carolina counties to suppress Klan violence in 1871. Grant supported passage of the Fifteenth Amendment stating that no state could deny a man the right to vote on the basis of race. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 giving people access to public facilities regardless of race. On October 21, 1876 President Grant deployed troops to protect black and white Republican voters in Petersburg, Virginia. His presidency at the end of his term was plagued with financial sandals.
The 14th Amendment granted full U.S. citizenship to African Americans on July 9, 1868. It gave due process and equal protection. The 15th Amendment, which was ratified in February 3, 1870, extended the right to vote to black males. P.B.S. Pinchback was sworn in as the first black member of the U.S. House of Representatives in December 11, 1872. In the same year, Elijah McCoy (who was a great black inventor) patented his first invention, an automatic lubricator that supplied oil to moving parts while a machine was still operating. The Freedman's Bureau was closed by the federal government on June 10, 1872.
Many conservatives worked with Democratic Party to oppose Reconstruction too. Opponents of Reconstruction accused the Carpetbaggers of corruption, excessive state spending, and ruinous taxes. The Conservatives and the white racists used their backlash against Reconstruction (which is similar to the white backlash of the 1960's). One of the most important cases during Reconstruction was the Slaughterhouse cases. In those cases, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 for a narrow reading of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court also discussed dual citizenship. This means that the Court wanted to divide between state citizens and U.S. citizens, which racists exploited to deprive black people of federal human rights. Throughout the 1870’s, violence against black people increased. On Easter, the Colfax Massacre existed in 1873. This was when more than 100 blacks in the Red River area of Louisiana are killed when attacked by white militia after defending Republicans in local office – continuing controversy from gubernatorial election.
The Coushatta Massacre of 1873 involve Republican officeholders are run out of town and murdered by white militia before leaving the state – four of six were relatives of a Louisiana state senator, a northerner who had settled in the South, married into a local family and established a plantation. Five to twenty black witnesses are also killed. Paramilitary white racist groups (with ties to the Democratic Party) were the White League of Louisiana and the Red Shirts of Mississippi, North and South Carolina. They terrorized black people and Republicans. Many Republicans were forced out of office, rallies were disrupted, and voting was suppressed. More political violence happened again in New Orleans. This was related to the still-contested gubernatorial election of 1872. Thousands of the White League armed militia march into New Orleans, then the seat of government, where they outnumber the integrated city police and black state militia forces. They defeat Republican forces and demand that Gov. Kellogg leave office. The Democratic candidate McEnery is installed and White Leaguers occupy the capitol, state house and arsenal. This was called the "Battle of Liberty Place." The White League and McEnery withdraw after three days in advance of federal troops arriving to reinforce the Republican state government.
The Civil Rights Act of 1875 was signed in March 1, 1875. The Mississippi Plan to try to intimidate black Americans and suppress black voter registration plus voting existed in 1875 too. In 1876, the African American Lewis Latimer prepared drawings for Alexander Graham’s Bell application for a telephone patient. In July 8, 1876, the Hamburg Massacre occurred when local people rioted against black Americans who were just celebrating the Fourth of July. White Democrats started to control more southern state legislatures by this time and Jim Crow laws increased. Women were denied the right the vote back then until the 1920’s. Women being deprived the right to vote back then is an injustice and a total disgrace. African Americans formed their own churches and religious organizations. They were mostly Baptist and Methodist back then. These religious groups were involved in politics too. Many Catholic churches of black people existed in Louisiana too. Many black ministers would be elected into Congress.
By 1877, they or racists took over most state governments. Racists attacked both white and black Republicans in trying to suppress black voting rights. Public support for Reconstruction by the North had declined by the 1870’s. Octavius Catto was murdered during the harassment of black people on Election Day in Philadelphia in October 10, 1871. He was a civil rights activist. The panic of 1873 was a depression economically in America. Many older abolitionists were passing away by this time. Many Republicans lost interest in Reconstruction policy, because some of them erroneously believed that the age of Reconstruction has run its course. Democrats, who opposed Reconstruction, gained more power. There was a split in the progressive community of the South. Many black leaders focused on individual economic progression in working with white corporate elites rather than following racial political politics. The view of black vocational education is akin to the Booker T. Washington conservative ideology. Nationally, President Grant was blamed for the depression. Therefore, the Republican Party lost 96 seats in all parts of the country in the 1874 elections. The Democrats, who strongly opposed Reconstruction, regained control of the House of Representatives in 1874. The presidential electoral vote in 1876 was very close and confused, forcing Congress to make the final decision.
The deployment of the U.S. Army was central to the survival of Republican state governments soon change. The age of Reconstruction collapsed when the Army was removed in 1877 as part of a Congressional bargain to elect Republican Rutherford B. Hayes as president. By this time, Reconstruction ended. Reconstruction caused many successes, but it ended by a racist backlash which caused modern Jim Crow to develop throughout the South and even in the Midwest. Reconstruction was an important part of civil rights history. It represented the possibility of a freer society, but it showed that the evil of oppression didn’t end with the end of the Civil War. Over the course of Reconstruction, more than 1,500 African Americans held public office in the South; some of them were men who had escaped to the North and gained educations, and returned to the South. They did not hold office in numbers representative of their proportion in the population. Reconstruction was defeated by a rightwing backlash who wanted to deprive black and poor people human rights. The disfranchisement of millions of human beings by racists is a total disgrace. The inability of the states to suppress the violence of Southern racist whites reversed many of the gains that black people fought for and it ultimately ended Reconstruction. Many Northerners even abandoned black people. Decades later, the spirit of Reconstruction would exist in future civil rights activists who would ultimately end Jim Crow oppression once and for all.
Early Jim Crow
After Reconstruction, Jim Crow grew into the next level. Modern Jim Crow lasted from 1876 to 1965. Jim Crow laws and policies existed long before the 1870’s. For example, back in 1865, legislatures in former Confederate states started to enact harsh black codes (which didn't want freeman to rent land, to serve on juries, to bear arms, to assemble except for religious purposes, to drink alcohol, to travel, or to learn to read). Yet, early Jim Crow in the modern sense existed in America from 1876. Jim Crow was not only brutal against black people. Many innocent black people were murdered during the Jim Crow regime. Jim Crow is legalized terrorism against black people period. Jim Crow also involved an anti-black propaganda campaign which used films, newspapers, posters, and other forms of media (like the evil movie Birth of a Nation, which came about in 1915. That movie slandered black people as collectively rapists and incompetent people) to unjustly dehumanize and caricature black people in the world (not just black human beings in America). In a sense, Jim Crow mandated forced de jure segregation in all public facilities. This was federally instituted by the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed states to segregate public facilities based upon race. The court used the illogical concept of “separate but equal” as a means to promote an evil decision. The truth is that segregation is immoral and evil for many reasons.
Jim Crow segregation is against the freedom of association, it restricts how and where people can live, it promotes racial tensions, and it deprives people of basic human rights. The increase of anti-black pogroms in the South caused many black people to leave the South. Black people like Benjamin “Pap” Singleton talked about separating from the South. There was the movement of the Exodusters from 1879-1880, which involved African American families migrating to Kansas in order to escape anti-black violence. White Democrats soon passed laws that dealt with Jim Crow. One section of law made voter registration and elections more complicated. Most of the rules acted overwhelmingly against blacks, but many poor whites were also disfranchised. Interracial coalitions of Populists and Republicans in some states succeeded in controlling legislatures in the 1880's and 1894, which made the Democrats more determined to reduce voting by poorer classes. When Democrats took control of Tennessee in 1888, they passed laws making voter registration more complicated and ended the most competitive political state in the South. Voting by blacks in rural areas and small towns dropped sharply, as did voting by poor whites. Black people lived in an era of overt terrorism and tyranny nationwide.
Laws that disfranchised most black people existed in 10 of the 11 Southern state constitutions from Mississippi to Georgia (during the time of from 1890 to 1908). These laws used poll taxes, residency requirements, and literacy tests to reduce black voter registration massively. The grandfather clause was used in many states temporarily to exempt illiterate white voters from literacy tests. Yet, grandfather clauses were used mostly against black people. As power became concentrated under the Democratic Party in the South, the party positioned itself as a private club and instituted white primaries, closing blacks out of the only competitive contests. By 1910, one-party white rule was firmly established across the South. African Americans used litigation to fight against these evil provisions and unjust laws. Yet, state and national court decisions readily went against them. In Williams v. Mississippi (1898), the US Supreme Court upheld state provisions. This encouraged other Southern states to adopt similar measures over the next few years. Booker T. Washington, of Tuskegee Institute secretly worked with Northern supporters to raise funds and provide representation for African Americans in additional cases, such as Giles v. Harris (1903) and Giles v. Teasley (1904). Yet, again the Supreme Court upheld the pro-Jim Crow statues. White racists continued to use law to promote segregation and use peonage. Peonage was virtually slavery policies in which black people were forced to work against their will for white corporations. This existed well into the 20th century. Racist terror continued. Lynching grew too.
Between 1890 and 1940, millions of Africans were disfranchised, killed, brutalized, and raped. According to newspaper records kept at the Tuskegee Institute, about 5,000 men, women, and children were murdered in documented extrajudicial mob violence —called lynchings. The journalist Ida B. Wells estimated that lynchings not reported by the newspapers, plus similar executions under the veneer of "due process", may have amounted to about 20,000 killings. Ida B. Wells fought against lynching with every fiber of her being. W.E.B. DuBois fought for racial justice as well. Very few whites were indicted for the lynching of black people. Black people couldn’t be in juries to convict murderers. Many black people, especially in the South, were deprived the right to keep and bear arms under Jim Crow law. This prevented many black people from protecting themselves and their families. After regaining control of the state legislatures, Democrats were alarmed by a late 19th-century alliance between Republicans and Populists that cost them some elections. In North Carolina's Wilmington Insurrection of 1898 (long called a race riot by whites), white Democrats conducted a coup d’état of the city government, the only one in United States history. They overturned a duly elected biracial government headed by a white mayor, and widely attacked the black community, destroying lives and property. Many blacks left the city permanently. Oklahoma had Jim Crow and used policies to deprive black people the right to vote too. Racist Democrats would dominate Southern politics for decades to come. By the mid to late 20th century, a political realignment took place where elite conservatives left the Democrats to be Republicans, because of the civil rights movement and other reasons.
South Carolina had a large majority of black people (with nearly 60 percent in 1890). Democrats wanted to prevent a possible resurgence of black Republican voters at the polls. So, they promoted the Eight Box Law. This called for a separate box for ballots for each office. Therefore, a voter had to insert the ballot into the corresponding box or it would not count. The ballots could not have party symbols on them. They had to be of a correct size and type of paper. Many ballots were arbitrarily rejected because they slightly deviated from the requirements. Ballots could also randomly be rejected if there were more ballots in a box than registered voters. This was challenged in court and it was ruled at first unconstitutional by Judge Goff of the United States Circuit Court on May 8, 1895. Later, in June 1895, the U.S. Circuit of Appeals reversed Judge Goff and dissolved the injunction. This caused a constitutional convention. The constitutional convention met on September 10 and adjourned on December 4, 1895. By the new constitution, South Carolina adopted the Mississippi Plan until January 1, 1898. Any male citizen could be registered who was able to read a section of the constitution or to satisfy the election officer that he understood it when read to him.
Those thus registered were to remain voters for life. Under the new constitution and application of literacy practices, black voters were dropped in great number from the registration rolls. By 1896, in a state where blacks numbered 728,934 (in South Carolina) and comprised nearly 60% of the total population according to the 1890 census, only 5,500 black voters had succeeded in registering. In Virginia, Democrats used disenfranchisement too. Racists wanted to end the coalition of black and white Republicans with populist Democrats. The coalition of the biracial coalition formed the Readjuster Party which lasted from 1877 to 1895. From 1881 to 1883, they elected a governor and controlled the legislature in Virginia. State Democrats divided the Readjuster support by using white supremacist rhetoric. After regaining power, Democrats changed state laws and the constitution in 1902 to disenfranchise blacks. They ratified the new constitution in the legislature and did not submit it to popular vote. Voting in Virginia fell by nearly half as a result of the disenfranchisement of blacks. The eighty-year stretch of white Democratic control ended only in the late 1960's after passage and enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the collapse of the Byrd Organization machine.
I’m from Virginia and I know about the pro-segregationist Harry Byrd Sr. (who drafted the Southern Manifesto, which opposed the Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education. He opposed civil rights legislation and the social programs of President John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson). The segregationists in Virginia used the massive resistance tactics and other racist moves to deprive black people human rights. Early Jim Crow was horrible.
The North learned of the South’s abuse of black human rights. Northern corporations wanted to invest in the South, but many of them wanted to ignore the systematic racism that existed in the South and all over America. Racism existed in the North too not just in the South. By the early 20th century, white veterans of the North and South formed reconciliation policies while ignoring the issues of race and suffrage. Southern whites used historical revisionism to advance lies about the Civil War (which was promoted by the Dunning School at Columbia University and other institutions. These lies are promoted by the Neo-Confederate movement in our generation). National newspapers and magazines documented disfranchisement of black Americans in the South. Some Northerners were outraged and alarmed. The Lodge Bill or Federal Elections Bill or Lodge Force Bill of 1890 was a bill drafted by Representative Henry Cabot Lodge (R) of Massachusetts, and sponsored in the Senate by George Frisbie Hoar. It would have authorized federal electors to supervise elections under certain conditions. Due to a Senate filibuster, as well as trade-off of support with Democrats by western Silver Republicans, the bill failed to pass. Southern Democrats prevented Congressional investigations of disfranchisement.
From 1896 to 1900, the House of Representatives with a Republican majority had acted in more than thirty cases to set aside election results from Southern states where the House Elections Committee had concluded that “black voters had been excluded due to fraud, violence, or intimidation.” Nevertheless, in the early 1900's, it began to back off from its enforcement of the Fifteenth Amendment and suggested that state and federal courts should exercise oversight of this issue. The Southern bloc of Democrats exercised increasing power in the House. They didn’t have an interest in protecting suffrage for black people. Segregation existed under the times of Roosevelt and Wilson. Despite the Lever decision and domination of Congress by Democrats, some Northern Congressmen continued to raise the issue of black disfranchisement and resulting malapportionment. For instance, on December 6, 1920, Representative George H. Tinkham from Massachusetts offered a resolution for the Committee of Census to investigate alleged disfranchisement of blacks. His intention was to enforce the provisions of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. In the early 20th century, civil rights organizations and other institutions like the Tuskegee Institute, the NAACP, the Urban League, etc. developed to fight for change.
The Border States had history involving this system. The five Border States are Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. Each of these states had legacies similar to the Confederate states from the Civil War. All of the Border States had slaves. They had laws which promoted racial segregation. Yet, the disenfranchisement of black people was never attained to any significant degree in Border States for a long period of time. Most Border States did attempt such disenfranchisement during the 1900's. The causes of failure to disenfranchise black people and poor whites in the Border States, as compared to their success for well over half a century in former Confederate states, were complicated. During the 1900's Maryland was vigorously divided between supporters and opponents of disenfranchisement (or depriving black people the right to vote), but it had a large and increasingly educated black community concentrated in Baltimore. Baltimore had many free black people before the Civil War. They had both economic and political power. Maryland’s state legislature passed a poll tax in 1904. Yet, an opposition to it grew and it was repealed in 1911. Despite support among conservative whites in the conservative Eastern Shore, referenda for bills to disenfranchise blacks failed three times in 1905, 1908 and 1910, with the last vote being the most decisive. In Kentucky, Lexington’s city government had passed a poll tax in 1901, but it was declared invalid in state circuit courts. Six years later, a new state legislative effort to disenfranchise blacks failed because of the strong organization of the Republican Party in pro-Union regions of the state. Texas restricted black people and Mexican Americans from voting. The Supreme Court by the 1940’s stopped this policy.
By 1919, the massive pogroms called Red Summer where white racist mobs murdered tons of innocent black Americans nationwide. This showed that racism was a key part of Jim Crow tyranny.
The Early Civil Rights Movement
After the unjust 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision, life changed for African Americans. Segregation and Jim Crow laws expanded nationwide. Many African Americans by 1900 traveled nationwide to try to escape injustice and find a greater living standard. A large percentage of African Americans were farmers by 1900. Tons of African Americans were sharecroppers during the turn of the 20th century as well. This was an era of massive anti-black violence and black migration into Kansas, Boley, Oklahoma, and to the West Coast. This era of African American showed courage, strength, and ideological diversity in the black community. In the same year of 1900, more than 30,000 African American teachers have been trained and helped human beings in the South. The majority of black Americans are literate. There was also the growth of the black bourgeoisie (which is made up of the upper middle class and the rich). Booker T. Washington went to work to promote the Tuskegee Institute and his agenda of economic empowerment. His autobiography “Up from Slavery” was published in 1901. The book is an important part of black literature and an important part of the diverse views of the black community. In other words, we (who are black people) believe in the same goal (which is justice for all black people), but we disagree on the methods on achieving that same goal. Tuskegee Institute in Alabama was his school to help black people to have vocational skills and he believed in black people to pull themselves “up by the bootstraps.” He wanted trade learning, manners, and in essence conservative habits to be used by black people.
He was later be criticized by W.E. B. Du Bois, Trotter, and others because they wanted immediate social activism to fight white racism. Booker T. Washington dinned with President Theodore Roosevelt too. One big error that Booker T. Washington did was to give his Atlanta Compromise speech, which wanted economic advancement at the expense of continuing segregation for a time and accepting the current system of accommodation. We don't compromise with evil. We fight evil instead. Many racists like Benjamin Tillman (or senator from South Carolina) disrespected Washington because of the meeting. In 1903, W.E.B. DuBois published his article called “The Talented Tenth.” Of course, I disagree with a talented tenth governing the black community for I believe in egalitarian power in the black community. In other words, we want the whole black community to be leaders and liberated not just the 10% (in an aristocratic fashion).
One of W.E.B. Du Bois’s greatest works was his seminal work entitled, “The Souls of Black Folk” was published. It was a great, classic read. It dealt with sociology, black history, and other important subjects. The book explained the dual consciousness of black Americans in that we (who are African Americans) have the African and American identities in one soul. We know the truth. The truth is that we need both vocational education (as Washington has stated) and political agitation including intellectual development (as DuBois has said) in order for us to reach the Promised Land. The Souls of Black Folk was unapologetic in advocating for black freedom. This book inspired the future boycott of the buses in Montgomery during the 1950’s. In May 15, 1904, Sigma Phi Phi was formed. This was the first African American Greek letter organized. It was created by professional people in Philadelphia. People know how I feel about GLOs. It is what it is. I disagree with hazing and many GLOs having links to the political establishment. Many GLOs have overt links to Freemasonry and the Eastern Star. I disagree with Freemasonry, because it has oaths where people swear involving death, Blue Lodge low level members are shown deception (according to Albert Pike), I won't call a grown man Worshipful Master, and I don't follow their dogmas. In the same year of 1904, Orlando, Florida hired its first black postman. Anti-black riots or pogroms existed in Atlanta in 1906 and in Springfield in 1908. Tons of black people felt betrayed (even Booker T. Washington who Roosevelt informed of his plan to discharge the soldiers without honor) at Theodore Roosevelt's discharging of the entire black 25th Infantry at the hearsay about soldiers being involved in a murder. The soldiers were stationed in Brownsville, Texas.
The first meeting of the historic Niagara Movement was formed in July 11, 1905. The Niagara Movement was a multiracial group of people who wanted to fight for civil rights causes via protests, boycotts, organizations, and other forms of social activism. W.E.B. DuBois is clear in the goal of the Niagara Movement from 1906 in the following words from him: "We want full manhood suffrage and we wnat it now...We want discrimination in public accommodation to cease...We want the Constitution of the country enforce...We are men! We will be treated as men. And we shall win!"
Alpha Phi Alpha was created in Cornell University. This was the first intercollegiate fraternity for black American men. The National Primitive Baptist Convention of the U.S.A. was formed in 1907. Jack Jonson won the World Heavyweight Title in December 1908. Jack Johnson was a fighter who was bold, controversial, and he didn’t submit to the conventions of white America back then. Alpha Kappa Alpha at Howard University was created in 1908. This was the African American college women first sorority in America. In 1909, the historic National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was created. It was a multiracial group that was devoted to civil rights. Its first planned meeting existed in February 12, 1909. It has done the right thing in fighting against Jim Crow laws and in setting up many programs that has helped black people. Of course, I don’t agree with the NAACP’s massive anti-Communism and their once support for the Vietnam War. Before the NAACP choose its official name, it was called the National Negro Committee. I do agree with the NAACP's fight for voting rights and social justice.
During the 1910’s, there was a further expansion of the civil rights movement. The NAACP gains its official name in May 30, 1910. In September 29, 1910, Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes was formed. The next year, it would merge with other groups to form the National Urban League. The National Urban League’s goal is to give black people economic opportunities, so they can achieve freedom and justice. The NAACP started to publish its newspaper entitled, “The Crisis.” W.E.B. DuBois was heavily involved in the Crisis as he was an early member of the NAACP. Many black activists would read and be inspired by the Crisis newspaper. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded in Indiana University by January 5, 1911. Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., which is the first African-American Greek-lettered organization to be founded at an HBCU (Howard University) on November 17, 1911. In 1913, Nobel Drew Ali formed the Moorish Science Temple of America, which is a religious organization. Nobel Drew Ali’s original name was Timothy Drew. Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was created at Howard University at January 13, 1913. Phi Beta Sigma fraternity was founded at Howard University by A. Langston Taylor, Leonard F. Morse, and Charles I. Brown. One of the reactionary policies of the overtly racist President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 was that he ordered the physical re-segregation of federal workplaces and employment after nearly 50 years of integrated facilities. Booker T. Washington passed away in 1915. By the time of his passing, more progressive civil rights voices grew. The truth is that despite his imperfections, he wasn't wrong on everything. As a community, we have every right to develop our economic power and to advance tons of skills. The deal is that immediate political action must be done too.
In 1915, one of the most disgraceful and racist films existed called the Birth of a Nation. It was released to film theaters in February 8, 1915. Many black people boycotted and opposed the film. The NAACP organized protests in cities across the country. Some didn’t show the film, yet its impact was national and hurtful to the black community. It slandered black people as rapists, incompetent, and dangerous when white racists are dangerous to human civilization. By this time, many Supreme Court cases would slowly eat away at many bad policies. In June 21, 1915, in Guinn v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against grandfather clauses used to deny blacks the right to vote. On September 9 in the same year, Professor Carter G. Woodson founds the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in Chicago. A schism from the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. forms the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. In January of 1916, Professor Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History begins publishing the Journal of Negro History, the first academic journal devoted to the study of African-American history. Marcus Garvey comes into America in March 23, 1916. In the same year, Los Angeles hired the country’s first black female police officer. The Great Migration growth from this time to 1940. During this time, about 1.5 million African Americans move from the Southern United States to the North, Midwest, and the West Coast. The Second Great Migration was from 1940 to 1970 (which include more destinations into California and the West). In 1917, racist pogroms or riots against black people existed in East St. Louis (in Illinois), Houston, and in other locations. Many black people were killed by racist criminals in the July 1-2, 1917 East St. Louis, Illinois riot. The NAACP responded to this by having a silent protest in NYC in 10,000 strong. The event happened in Fifth Avenue.
In 1917, in Buchanan v. Warley, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds that racially segregated housing violates the 14th Amendment. A compassionate black woman named Viola Pettus from Marathon, Texas helped people who were victims of the Spanish Influenza. In 1918, Mary Turner was a 33-year-old lynched in Lowndes County, Georgia who was Eight months pregnant. Turner and her child were murdered after she publicly denounced the extrajudicial killing of her husband by a mob. Her death is considered a stark example of racially motivated mob violence in the American south, and was referenced by the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign of the 1920's, 1930's and 1940's.
The Red Summer 1919 riots were some of the worst anti-black riots in American history. Many black people defended themselves too. These riots existed in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Knoxville, Indianapolis, etc. in the summer. In September, there was the Omaha Race Riot in Nebraska. In October 1-5, there was the Elaine Race Riot in Phillips, County, and Arkansas. Numerous blacks are convicted by an all-white jury or plead guilty. In Moore v. Dempsey (1923), the U.S. Supreme Court overturns six convictions for denial of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment.
The 1920’s was a time of massive growth of activism and it was the time of the historic Harlem Renaissance. From 1920 to 1931, the Negro National League was formed. In the same year, Fritz Pollard and Bobby Marshall are the first two African-American players in the National Football League (NFL). Pollard goes on to become the first African-American coach in the NFL. On January 16, 1920, the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded at Howard University.
On August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, which gave women the right to vote. This was very historic. The first major African American hit musical on Broadway called Shuffle Along existed on Broadway on May 23, 1921. The Tulsa Race Riot existed in Black Wall Street in Oklahoma. Massive black businesses existed there, but white terrorists even used planes with bombs to destroy the black community in Tulsa. To this very day, there has been no true accountability involving the destruction of Black Wall Street. Bessie Coleman was the first African American to earn a pilot’s license in 1921. The sorority of Sigma Gamma Rho was founded at Butler University in November 12, 1922. In 1923, Garrett A. Morgan invented and patented the first automatic three position traffic light. The Rosewood massacre existed from January 1-7 in 1923. It was about six African Americans and two whites die in a week of violence when a white woman in Rosewood, Florida, claims she was beaten and raped by a black man. The anti-black pogroms of Elaine, Arkansas (1919), Tulsa, Oklahoma (1921), and Rosweood, Florida (1923) never stopped our black ancestors. We are black and we are strong. Also, black women were heavily involved in the black freedom struggle, especially in leadership roles.
The 1930's saw the Great Depression. The Great Depression involved a financial catastrophe for millions of Americans. During the 1930's, many people starved, came into long lines to get food, struggled economically, and black people survived the Great Depression too. The Great Depression was a very difficult time. In many cities during that time, African American unemployment reached almost 50 percent. Children tried to get food. College educated black women and black men struggled to get jobs. So, civil rights organizations fought against racism, oppression, and poverty. In 1930, black activists and labor united to defeat Hoover's nominee Judge John J. Parker (who spoke against black suffrage) from being on the Supreme Court. W.E. B. DuBois, Ralph Bunche, A. Philip Randolph, Mary McLeod Bethune fought for justice. The antilynching movement grew in the 1930's too. During this decade, the labor movement increased in power. They used strikes, protests, and other methods to fight for economic and workers' rights. In many cases, black and white workers would unite to fight for better working conditions, better wages, and more changes. Many labor organizations were integrated like the AFL-CIO, etc.
During the time of August 7, 1930, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith were African-American men lynched in Marion, Indiana, after being taken from jail and beaten by a mob. They had been arrested that night as suspects in a robbery, murder and rape case. A third African-American suspect, 16-year-old James Cameron, had also been arrested and narrowly escaped being killed by the mob. He later became a civil rights activist. In the same year, the League of Struggle for Negro Rights was founded in New York City. Jessie Daniel Ames forms the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching in 1930. She gets 40,000 white women to sign a pledge against lynching and for change in the South. On March 25, 1931, the Scottsboro Boys were arrested. They were accused of raping a white woman, which was false. The Communist Party (back then, the Communist Party appealed to many black Americans because of its work to fight racism and police brutality. They also fought corruption from landlords. Most black people wouldn't join the Communists because most black people back then weren't atheists) helped the Scottsboro young people too. Years would exist until many of those charged would be let out of prison. In that same year, Walter Francis White became the executive secretary of the NAACP. The evil Tuskegee experiment happened in 1932. This was about black men being lied to by the government about receiving what they thought was medicine. They actually received syphilis without their permission and many of them died. The government wanted to see the effects of untreated syphilis on black men, which was sick. Hocutt v. Wilson unsuccessfully challenged segregation in higher education in the United States back in 1933. Wallace D. Fard mysteriously disappeared in 1934. He was the leader of the Nation of Islam. The new leader became Elijah Muhammad.
In Murray v. Pearson (in June 18, 1935), Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston of the NAACP successfully argue the landmark case in Maryland to open admissions to the segregated University of Maryland School of Law on the basis of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. In August of 1936, American sprinter Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. In 1937, Zora Neale Hurston wrote the novel, “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” The Southern Negro Youth Congress was founded in the same year too. In October of 1938, the Negro National Congress meets at the Metropolitan Opera House in Philadelphia, Pa.
On Easter Sunday on 1939, Marian Anderson performs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. at the instigation of Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes after the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) refused permission for Anderson to sing to an integrated audience in Constitution Hall. Sister Marian Anderson has toured in Europe before. She can sing in multiple language. One of her friends was Eleanor Roosevelt (who opposed lynching and believed in racial equality). The Easter Sunday concert was attended by 75,000 people.
In 1939, a federally controlled District of Columbia Board of Education declined a request to use the auditorium of a white public high school.
In 1939, Billie Holiday first performed “Strange Fruit” in New York City. The song was a protest song against lynching and racism. It was written by Abel Meeropol under the pen name of Lewis Allan. Abel Meeropol was a liberal and a Jewish schoolteacher. He saw a picture of a lynching and was inspired to write the song. It was a signature song for Sister Billie Holiday. She performed it in the Manhattan nightclub called the Cafe Society. The lyrics that Billie Holiday sang in "Strange Fruit" are the following words:
"...Southern trees bear strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop..."
The Little League is formed, becoming the nation's first non-segregated youth sport. By August 21, 1939, five African-American men recruited and trained by African-American attorney Samuel Wilbert Tucker conduct a sit-in at the then-segregated Alexandria, Virginia, library and are arrested after being refused library cards. By September 21, 1939, the followers of Father Divine and the International Peace Mission Movement join with workers to protest racially unfair hiring practices by conducting "a kind of customers' nickel sit down strike" in a restaurant.
During the 1940’s, African Americans experienced the New Deal, and the World War II events. Still, black people in the civil rights movement sacrificed and fought against oppression by any means necessary. The 1940's also saw militant action done by black Americans in the freedom struggle. A. Philip Randolph was a leader in the early civil rights movement. Slowly, but surely more and more cases in favor of black civil rights activists existed during the 1940's. Charles H. Houston (who was a great lawyer and a mentor to Thurgood Marshall) continued in cases to fight Jim Crow apartheid. The Second Great Migration among the black community existed from the 1940's too. Heroic black women like Irene Morgan opposed racial injustice. She refused to go to the back of the bus in Virginia in 1944. She was a 27 year old mother back then. She wanted to visit a doctor in Baltimore. Thurgood Marshall was one of her attorneys. "If something happens to you which is wrong, the best thing to do is have it corrected in the best way you can," said Morgan. "The best thing for me to do was to go to the Supreme Court." Her case was used to allow the Supreme Court to ban segregation involving interstate travel. In 1946 in a landmark decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Virginia law was unconstitutional, as the Commerce clause protected interstate traffic.
By February 12, 1940, in Chambers v. Florida, the U.S. Supreme Court frees three black men who were coerced into confessing to a murder. On February 29, 1940, Hattie McDaniel becomes the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She wins Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. The first African American general of the U.S. Army was Benjamin O. Davis Sr. from October 25, 1940. Richard Wright wrote about the black experience in his classic book, entitled, “Native Son.” The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fun was formed in the same year as well. On January 25, 1941, A. Philip Randolph proposed a March on Washington, which started the March on Washington Movement. In early 1941, the U.S. Army forms African-American air combat units, the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen were involved in 15,000 combat sorties, winning 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 744 Air Medals, 8 Purple Hearts, and 14 Bronze Stars.
A. Philip Randolph tells President Roosevelt that if he doesn’t make policies to deal with discrimination in defense contracting jobs, then he would organize a march on Washington to protest racial discrimination. That is why on June 25, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, the "Fair Employment Act", to require equal treatment and training of all employees by defense contractors. In Mitchell v US., the Interstate Commerce Clause was used to successfully desegregate seating on trains in 1941. In 1941, Adam Clayton Powell (who was a pastor in New York City too) was the first African American elected to the New York City Council in 1941.
In 1942, six non-violence activists in the Fellowship of Reconciliation (Bernice Fisher, James Russell Robinson, George Houser, James Farmer, Jr., Joe Guinn and Homer Jack) found the Committee on Racial Equality, which becomes the Congress of Racial Equality. In 1943, Dr. Charles R. Drew developed techniques for separating and storing blood. He was the head of an American Red Cross effort to collect blood for American armed forces. He was the chief surgeon of Howard University's medical school and professor of surgery. His achievements were recognized when he became the first African-American surgeon to serve as an examiner on the American Board of Surgery. Detroit’s racial riot existed in 1943. Lena Horne starred in the all African American film called “Stormy Weather.” Lena Horne was not only a great singer and performer. She was a life long advocate for civil rights. During World War II, many black GIs had pictures of her on their walls.
In 1944, in Smith v. Allwright, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the whites-only Democratic Party primary in Texas was unconstitutional. The United Negro College Fund was incorporated in April 25, 1944. The Port Chicago disaster in July 17 caused the Port Chicago mutiny. From August 1-7, 1944, the Philadelphia transit strike of 1944 existed. This strike was about white transit workers protesting against job advancement by black workers, is broken by the U.S. military under the provisions of the Smith-Connally Act. In September 3, 1944, Recy Taylor kidnapped and gang-raped in Abbeville by six white men, who later confessed to the crimes but were never charged. The case was investigated by Rosa Parks and provided an early organizational spark for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In November 7, 1944, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Harlem, New York. Miami in the same year hired its first black police officers. From April 5–6, there was the Freeman Field Mutiny, in which black officers of the U.S. Army Air Corps attempt to desegregate an all-white officers' club in Indiana.
In August of 1945, the first issue of Ebony came about. Ebony described black life in its diversity and beauty. In June 3, 1946, in Morgan v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidates provisions of the Virginia Code which require the separation of white and colored passengers where applied to interstate bus transport. The state law is unconstitutional insofar as it is burdening interstate commerce – an area of federal jurisdiction. In Florida, Daytona Beach, DeLand, Sanford, Fort Myers, Tampa, and Gainesville all have black police officers. So does Little Rock, Arkansas; Louisville, Kentucky; Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio in Texas; Richmond, Virginia; Chattanooga and Knoxville in Tennessee.
Renowned actor/singer Paul Robeson founds the American Crusade Against Lynching. All of these events happened in 1946. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) sends 16 men on the Journey of Reconciliation in 1947. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was the first black baseball player in professional baseball in 60 years. John Hope Franklin in 1947, authored the nonfiction book entitled, “From Slavery to Freedom.” In 1948, the United Nations, Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights bans slavery globally. In Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Okla., (on January 12, 1948), the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the State of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma Law School could not deny admission based on race ("color"). In Shelley v. Kraemer, and companion case Hurd v Hodge (ACLU) the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the government cannot enforce racially restrictive covenants and asserts that they are in conflict with the nation's public policy. This happened on May 3, 1948. Hubert Humphrey gave a historic speech in favor of American civil rights at the Democratic National Convention on July 12, 1948. On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman issued Executive Order 9981 ordering the end of racial discrimination in the Armed Forces. Desegregation comes about after 1950. Atlanta in the year of 1948 hired its first black police officers. On January 20, 1949, the Civil Rights Congress protests the second inauguration of Harry S. Truman.
The 1950's to 1954.
In the 1950’s, the civil rights movement grown in to new heights. A new era dawned for black Americans during the 1950's. In McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents (on June 5, 1950), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a public institution of higher learning could not provide different treatment to a student solely because of his race. During the date of June 5, 1950, in Sweatt v. Painter the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a separate-but-equal Texas law school was actually unequal, partly in that it deprived black students from the collegiality of future white lawyers. The Supreme Court abolished segregation in railroad dining cars in Henderson v. United States in June 5 of that year too. By September 15, 1950, the University of Virginia under a federal court order admitted a black student to its law school. In 1950, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights was created in Washington, D.C. to promote the enactment and enforcement of effective civil rights legislation and policy. Orlando, Florida hired its first black police officers in 1950. Dr. Ralph Bunche won the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize for his actions in the Middle East. Also, Chuck Cooper, Nathaniel Clifton and Earl Lloyd broke the barriers into the NBA in the same year. On February 2 and 5 in 1951, there was the execution of the Martinsville Seven. The Maryland legislature ended segregation on trains and boats in February 15, 1951, but Georgia legislature back then voted to deny funds to schools that integrate.
During the day of April 23, 1951, the high school students in Farmville, Virginia, go on strike. The case Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County is heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 as part of Brown v. Board of Education. A federal court ruling upheld segregation in South Carolina public school in June 23, 1951. There was a riot of white residents destroying property in July 11, 1951 in Cicero, Illinois when a black family tries to move into an apartment in the all-white suburb of Chicago. The National Guard dispersed them (or the rioters) in July 1. In July 26 of the same year, the United States Army high command announced it will desegregate the Army. The famous "We Charge Genocide" petition (on December 17, 1951) was presented to United Nations by the Civil Rights Congress which accused the United States of violating the Genocide Convention. The home of NAACP activists Harry and Harriette Moore in Mims, Florida, was bombed by a KKK group. Both human beings would die of injuries on December 24, 1951. The Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) was founded in Cleveland, Mississippi (on December 28, 1951) by T.R.M. Howard, Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry, and other civil rights activists. Assisted by member Medgar Evers, the RCNL distributed more than 50,000 bumper stickers bearing the slogan, "Don't Buy Gas Where you Can't Use the Restroom." This campaign successfully pressured many Mississippi service stations to provide restrooms for black people.
On January 5, 1952, the Governor of Georgia Herman Talmadge criticized television shows for depicting black people and white people as equal. Herman was so racist that he didn’t want equality for all. On January 28, 1952, Briggs v. Elliott existed after a District Court had ordered separate but equal school facilities in South Carolina. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case as part of the Brown v. Board of Education. Another federal court in March 7 of the same year upheld segregated education laws in Virginia. On April 1, Chancellor Collins J. Seitz finds for the black plaintiffs (Gebhart v. Belton, Gebhart v. Bulah) and orders the integration of Hockessin elementary and Claymont High School in Delaware based on assessment of "separate but equal" public school facilities required by the Delaware constitution.
By September 4, 1952, 11 black students attended the first day of school at Claymont High School in Delaware. They are the first black students in the 17 segregated states to integrate a white public school. The day occurs without incident or notice by the community. During the next day, the Delaware State Attorney General informed Claymont Superintendent Stahl that the black students will have to go home because the case is being appealed. Stahl, the School Board and the faculty refuse and the students remain. The two Delaware cases are argued before the Warren U.S. Supreme Court by Redding, Greenberg and Marshall and are used as an example of how integration can be achieved peacefully. It was a primary influence in the Brown v. Board case. The students become active in sports, music and theater. The first two black students graduated in June 1954 just one month after the Brown v. Board case. Ralph Ellison authored the novel Invisible Man. His book wins the National book Award. In June 8, 1953, the United States Supreme Court strikes down segregation in Washington, D.C. restaurants. On August 13, the Executive Order 10479 was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It established the anti-discrimination Committee on Government Contracts. On September 1, 1953, in the landmark case Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company, WAC Sarah Keys, represented by civil rights lawyer Dovey Roundtree, becomes the first black American to challenge "separate but equal" in bus segregation before the Interstate Commerce Commission. Also, in 1953, James Baldwin shows his semi-autobiographical novel entitled, “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” On May 3, 1954, in Hernandez v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that Mexican Americans and all other racial groups in the United States are entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled on one of the most important cases in human history. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the "separate but equal" doctrine in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. and in Bolling v. Sharpe, thus overturning Plessy v. Ferguson. That ruling bans segregation in public schools. It was a long fight, but that decision was a victory for humanity. This ends the early chapter of the early civil rights movement.
Later in Part 4, information about the Great Migration, the Harlem Renaissance, various black social movements (like Marcus Garvey's UNIA, etc.), World War I, the Great Depression, and the New Deal will be shown. In the end, we shall overcome.