Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum
   You are in: Virtual Public Library >> Hall of the Historic Archives >> Civil Rights Movement





American’s Four United Republics: Discovery-Based Curriculum

For More Information go to America's Four United Republics Curriculum


 


Civil Rights Movement


March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, Washington, DC


National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. Information Agency


New Page 1

1954 -Brown v. Board of Education 

1955 - Montgomery Bus Boycott 

1957 - Desegregation at Little Rock 

1960 - Sit-in Campaign 

1961 - Freedom Rides 

1962 - Mississippi Riot 

1963 - Birmingham 

March on Washington 

1964 - Mississippi Freedom Summer

Mississippi Freedom Summer Remembered

By David Pitts
Washington File Staff Writer
Courtesy of the Department of State

(Plaque honors three civil rights martyrs)

Philadelphia, Mississippi -- It is not really a memorial, just a small plaque on the grounds of the Mt. Zion Methodist Church, located a few miles outside this small town. The young men it honors are largely forgotten now. But 37 years ago, their names were front page news across the nation -- civil rights heroes who had mysteriously disappeared while helping African Americans to register to vote.

The case was a subject of frequent comment at a conference titled "International Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity, and Intercultural Relations," held April 18-22 on the campus of the University of Mississippi. It was the most important of a number of civil rights cases that conference attendees discussed.

James Chaney, who was black, and Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, both of whom were white, were in Neshoba County during what became known as Mississippi Freedom Summer -- the summer of 1964. They were part of a large contingent of volunteers determined to break the back of segregation -- and in particular the state's intimidation of potential black voters. Neshoba County had a reputation as one of the most segregated jurisdictions in the state.

On June 17, Mt. Zion Church was burned to the ground, one of 20 black churches to be firebombed across the state during that Freedom Summer. The federal government's law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), began a massive inquiry into the bombings, codenamed "MIBURN" -- for Mississippi Burning. President Lyndon Johnson and Attorney General Robert Kennedy became personally involved in the case, urging FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to aggressively pursue every lead.

But the FBI soon had an even more serious matter on its hands. On June 21, Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner drove to the site of the burned church outside Philadelphia to investigate the situation and express sympathy with the congregation. On the way back, they disappeared. The FBI interviewed more than 1,000 Mississippians in an effort to locate the young men before their bodies were eventually found on August 4. It was later determined that the civil rights workers had been murdered as a result of a conspiracy between elements of Neshoba County law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan.

But if segregationists in Mississippi had hoped to intimidate the civil rights movement, they were mistaken. The crime spurred renewed efforts in the state to register African Americans to vote and national indignation over the murders helped President Johnson pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act which, together with the Voting Rights Act passed the following year, ended legally mandated segregation in Mississippi and throughout the South. Seven persons were eventually convicted of federal civil rights charges relating to the murders and served prison sentences ranging from three to 10 years.

Driving into Philadelphia on this cool, spring day, there are no visible signs of the violent struggle that took place here almost four decades ago. But evidence of the change that was wrought here is everywhere. On a city street, a black law enforcement officer drives by in a patrol car -- unthinkable during segregation. At the county courthouse, black and white employees seem to mix easily in a way that would not have been possible in the old Mississippi.

And at the city library, black and white schoolchildren read attentively beside a stand carrying books about African American role models -- everyone from movie star Denzel Washington to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. Both the librarians on duty on this day are African American. Everyone asked in Philadelphia knows about the three civil rights workers and what happened in Neshoba County during Mississippi Freedom Summer.

Most, however -- both black and white -- seem reluctant to talk about it, as if it would open up old wounds. They would rather talk about Neshoba County and Mississippi today. Mississippi now has more elected black officials than any other state in the nation, testimony to the wrenching change that occurred here just a few generations ago, although African Americans will tell you that there is still much to be done.

"Change is difficult," remarked one elderly white man. "But what happened right here in Neshoba County changed Mississippi, changed the South forever." That change did come is due to the myriad of civil rights NGOs that were active here, to the determination of the federal government and courts to end legally mandated segregation throughout the South, and to the educative role played by independent media.

But it also is due to courageous individuals like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. The plaque dedicated to their memory, next to a rebuilt Mt. Zion Methodist Church, says:

"On June 21, 1964, voting rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who had come here to investigate the burning of Mr. Zion Church, were murdered. Victims of a Klan conspiracy, their deaths provoked national outrage and led to the first successful prosecution of a civil rights case in Mississippi."


This article was reproduced from the U.S. Department of State's Office of International Information Programs (usinfo.state.gov). Links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Mississippi & Freedom Summer - Cozzens, Lisa. "The Civil Rights Movement 1955-1965." African American History. http://fledge.watson.org/~lisa/ blackhistory/civilrights-55-65 (25 May 1998).

1965 - Selma

 




Senators Everett Dirksen and Hubert Humphrey and Speaker of the House John McCormack watch as President Lyndon Johnson signs the 1964 Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964, The White House, Washington, DC

National Archives and Records Administration, Lyndon B. Johnson Library

New Page 5

 

 

Teaching With Documents:
Court Documents Related to Martin Luther King, Jr., and Memphis Sanitation Workers  - Courtesy of the National Archives

Background

The name of Martin Luther King, Jr., is intertwined with the history of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s in the United States. The Montgomery bus boycott, the freedom rides, the Birmingham campaign, the March on Washington, the Selma march, the Chicago campaign, and the Memphis boycott are some of the more noteworthy battlefields where King and his followers--numerous in numbers, humble and great in name-- fought for the equal rights and equal justice that the United States Constitution ensures for all its citizens. King, building on the tradition of civil disobedience and passive resistance earlier expressed by Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Gandhi, waged a war of nonviolent direct action against opposing forces of racism and prejudice that were embodied in the persons of local police, mayors, governors, angry citizens, and night riders of the Ku Klux Klan. The great legal milestones achieved by this movement were the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the later 1960s, the targets of King's activism were less often the legal and political obstacles to the exercise of civil rights by blacks, and more often the underlying poverty, unemployment, lack of education, and blocked avenues of economic opportunity confronting black Americans. Despite increasing militancy in the movement for black power, King steadfastly adhered to the principles of nonviolence that had been the foundation of his career. Those principles were put to a severe test in his support of a strike by sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. This was King's final campaign before his death.

During a heavy rainstorm in Memphis on February 1, 1968, two black sanitation workers had been crushed to death when the compactor mechanism of the trash truck was accidentally triggered. On the same day in a separate incident also related to the inclement weather, 22 black sewer workers had been sent home without pay while their white supervisors were retained for the day with pay. About two weeks later, on February 12, more than 1,100 of a possible 1,300 black sanitation workers began a strike for job safety, better wages and benefits, and union recognition. Mayor Henry Loeb, unsympathetic to most of the workers' demands, was especially opposed to the union. Black and white civic groups in Memphis tried to resolve the conflict, but the mayor held fast to his position.

As the strike lengthened, support for the strikers within the black community of Memphis grew. Organizations such as COME (Community on the Move for Equality) established food and clothing banks in churches, took up collections for strikers to meet rent and mortgages, and recruited marchers for frequent demonstrations. King's participation in forming a city-wide boycott to support the striking workers was invited by the Reverend James Lawson, pastor of the Centenary Methodist Church in Memphis and an adviser to the strikers. Lawson was a seasoned veteran of the civil rights movement and an experienced trainer of activists in the philosophy and methods of nonviolent resistance.

At that time King was involved in planning with other civil rights workers the Poor People's Campaign for economic opportunity and equality. He was also zigzagging by airplane through the eastern United States meeting speaking engagements and attending important social events as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Nevertheless, King agreed to lend his support to the sanitation workers, spoke at a rally in Memphis March 18, and promised to lead the large march and work stoppage planned for later in the month.

Unfortunately the demonstration on March 28 turned sour when a group of rowdy students at the tail end of the long parade of demonstrators used the signs they carried to break windows of businesses. Looting ensued. The march was halted, the demonstrators dispersed, and King was safely escorted from the scene. About 60 people had been injured, and one young man, a looter, was killed. This episode prompted the city of Memphis to bring a formal complaint in the District Court against King, Hosea Williams, James Bevel, James Orange, Ralph Abernathy, and Bernard Lee, King's associates in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

The outbreak of violence deeply distressed King. In the next few days he and fellow SCLC leaders negotiated with the disagreeing factions in Memphis. When assured of their unity and commitment to nonviolence, King came back for another march, at first scheduled for April 5. In the meantime, U.S. District Court Judge Bailey Brown granted the city of Memphis a temporary restraining order against King and his associates. But the SCLC's planning and training for a peaceful demonstration had intensified. Lawson and Andrew Young, representing the SCLC, met with the judge April 4 and worked out a broad agreement for the march to proceed April 8. The details of the agreement would be put into place the next day, April 5.

This was the message that Young conveyed to King as they were getting ready to go out to dinner. Moments later, on that evening of April 4, 1968, as King stepped out of his motel room to join his colleagues for dinner, he was assassinated.

Other Resources

Books

Branch, Taylor. Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Branch, Taylor. Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998.

Carson, Clayborne, et al., eds. The Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader: Documents, Speeches, and Firsthand Accounts from the Black Freedom Struggle, 1954-1990. New York: Penguin Books, 1991.

Fairclough, Adam. Martin Luther King, Jr. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995.

Garrow, David. Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. New York: William Morrow, 1986.

Halberstam, David. The Children. New York: Random House, 1998.

Hampton, Henry, and Steve Fayer. Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s. New York: Bantam Books, 1990.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson. New York: Warner Books, 1998.

King, Martin Luther, Jr. The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by James Washington. New York: HarperCollins, 1986.

Williams, Juan. Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965. New York: Penguin Books, 1987.

Videos and Software

Eyes on the Prize: A History of the Civil Rights Movement (12 one-hour videotapes). ABC Laserdisc.

Encarta Africana. Microsoft CD-ROM.

Web Sites

The Web site of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project at Stanford University (http://www.stanford.edu/group/King/) includes links to biography, articles, chronology, and reference sources about King. This site also has links to key King documents.

Celebrating Black History Month on the Web has a site, organized by the University of Colorado, with a broad range of information at http://www-libraries.colorado.edu/ps/gov/us/blackhistory.htm.

Civil Rights Museum has an Interactive Tour link at http://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/gallery/movement.asp that gives a survey of civil rights for African Americans from the colonial period to the present.

The Documents

[Defendants'] Exhibit 1
City of Memphis v. Martin Luther King, Jr., [et al.]
1968
[Defendants'] Exhibit 1

Click to Enlarge

National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the United States District Court
Western District of Tennessee,
Western (Memphis) Division
Record Group 21
ARC Identifier: 279325

This exhibit is a flyer distributed to sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, asking them to "March for Justice and Jobs." Included are directions for the route to be followed and instructions to the marchers to use "soul-force which is peaceful, loving, courageous, yet militant."

[Defendants'] Exhibit 2
City of Memphis v. Martin Luther King, Jr., [et al.]
1968

[Defendants'] Exhibit 2
Click to Enlarge

National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the United States District Court
Western District of Tennessee,
Western (Memphis) Division
Record Group 21
ARC Identifier: 279326

This exhibit is a flyer distributed in Memphis, Tennessee, requesting volunteer assistance and offering instructions to sanitation workers and their sympathizers for the duration of a strike.

Answer to Plaintiff
City of Memphis v. Martin Luther King, Jr., [et al.]
1968

Answer to Plaintiff
Click to Enlarge

View Pages: 1 | 2 | 3

National Archives and Records Administration
Records of the United States District Court
Western District of Tennessee,
Western (Memphis) Division
Record Group 21
ARC Identifier: 279324

This document was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, April 4, 1968. It gives the response of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Hosea Williams, Reverend James Bevel, Reverend James Orange, Ralph D. Abernathy, and Bernard Lee to allegations by the city of Memphis, Tennessee, that they had been engaged in a conspiracy to incite riots or breaches of the peace. They also denied that they had refused to furnish information concerning marches and explained the steps they had taken to ensure the march would be nonviolent and under control. Dr. King further stated that he had received threats against his personal safety.
 

Portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
By Betsy G. Reyneau
Reyneau Portrait of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Click to Enlarge

National Archives and Records Administration
Donated Collections
Record Group 200
 

The African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the reform movements in the United States aimed at abolishing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring Suffrage in Southern states.

African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Prominent figures of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Top left: W. E. B. Du Bois; top right: Malcolm X; bottom left: Martin Luther King, Jr.; bottom right: Rosa Parks.

The African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) refers to the reform movements in the United States aimed at abolishing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring Suffrage in Southern states. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1954 and 1968, particularly in the South. By 1966, the emergence of the Black Power Movement, which lasted roughly from 1966 to 1975, enlarged the aims of the Civil Rights Movement to include racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and freedom from oppression by whites.

Many of those who were most active in the Civil Rights Movement, with organizations such as SNCC, CORE and SCLC, prefer the term "Southern Freedom Movement" because the struggle was about far more than just civil rights under law; it was also about fundamental issues of freedom, respect, dignity, and economic and social equality.


Start your search on Civil Rights Movement.


America's Four United Republics Exhibit - Click Here


Unauthorized Site: This site and its contents are not affiliated, connected, associated with or authorized by the individual, family, friends, or trademarked entities utilizing any part or the subject's entire name. Any official or affiliated sites that are related to this subject will be hyper linked below upon submission and Evisum, Inc. review.

Copyright© 2000 by Evisum Inc.TM. All rights reserved.
Evisum Inc.TM Privacy Policy

Search:

About Us

 

 

Image Use

Please join us in our mission to incorporate America's Four United Republics discovery-based curriculum into the classroom of every primary and secondary school in the United States of America by July 2, 2026, the nation’s 250th birthday. , the United States of America: We The People Click Here

 

Childhood & Family

Click Here

 

Historic Documents

Articles of Association

Articles of Confederation 1775

Articles of Confederation

Article the First

Coin Act

Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence

Emancipation Proclamation

Gettysburg Address

Monroe Doctrine

Northwest Ordinance

No Taxation Without Representation

Thanksgiving Proclamations

Mayflower Compact

Treaty of Paris 1763

Treaty of Paris 1783

Treaty of Versailles

United Nations Charter

United States In Congress Assembled

US Bill of Rights

United States Constitution

US Continental Congress

US Constitution of 1777

US Constitution of 1787

Virginia Declaration of Rights

 

Historic Events

Battle of New Orleans

Battle of Yorktown

Cabinet Room

Civil Rights Movement

Federalist Papers

Fort Duquesne

Fort Necessity

Fort Pitt

French and Indian War

Jumonville Glen

Manhattan Project

Stamp Act Congress

Underground Railroad

US Hospitality

US Presidency

Vietnam War

War of 1812

West Virginia Statehood

Woman Suffrage

World War I

World War II

 

Is it Real?



Declaration of
Independence

Digital Authentication
Click Here

 

America’s Four Republics
The More or Less United States

 
Continental Congress
U.C. Presidents

Peyton Randolph

Henry Middleton

Peyton Randolph

John Hancock

  

Continental Congress
U.S. Presidents

John Hancock

Henry Laurens

John Jay

Samuel Huntington

  

Constitution of 1777
U.S. Presidents

Samuel Huntington

Samuel Johnston
Elected but declined the office

Thomas McKean

John Hanson

Elias Boudinot

Thomas Mifflin

Richard Henry Lee

John Hancock
[
Chairman David Ramsay]

Nathaniel Gorham

Arthur St. Clair

Cyrus Griffin

  

Constitution of 1787
U.S. Presidents

George Washington 

John Adams
Federalist Party


Thomas Jefferson
Republican* Party

James Madison 
Republican* Party

James Monroe
Republican* Party

John Quincy Adams
Republican* Party
Whig Party

Andrew Jackson
Republican* Party
Democratic Party


Martin Van Buren
Democratic Party

William H. Harrison
Whig Party

John Tyler
Whig Party

James K. Polk
Democratic Party

David Atchison**
Democratic Party

Zachary Taylor
Whig Party

Millard Fillmore
Whig Party

Franklin Pierce
Democratic Party

James Buchanan
Democratic Party


Abraham Lincoln 
Republican Party

Jefferson Davis***
Democratic Party

Andrew Johnson
Republican Party

Ulysses S. Grant 
Republican Party

Rutherford B. Hayes
Republican Party

James A. Garfield
Republican Party

Chester Arthur 
Republican Party

Grover Cleveland
Democratic Party

Benjamin Harrison
Republican Party

Grover Cleveland 
Democratic Party

William McKinley
Republican Party

Theodore Roosevelt
Republican Party

William H. Taft 
Republican Party

Woodrow Wilson
Democratic Party

Warren G. Harding 
Republican Party

Calvin Coolidge
Republican Party

Herbert C. Hoover
Republican Party

Franklin D. Roosevelt
Democratic Party

Harry S. Truman
Democratic Party

Dwight D. Eisenhower
Republican Party

John F. Kennedy
Democratic Party

Lyndon B. Johnson 
Democratic Party 

Richard M. Nixon 
Republican Party

Gerald R. Ford 
Republican Party

James Earl Carter, Jr. 
Democratic Party

Ronald Wilson Reagan 
Republican Party

George H. W. Bush
Republican Party 

William Jefferson Clinton
Democratic Party

George W. Bush 
Republican Party

Barack H. Obama
Democratic Party

Please Visit

Forgotten Founders
Norwich, CT

Annapolis Continental
Congress Society


U.S. Presidency
& Hospitality

© Stan Klos

 

 

 

 


Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum