SCARCE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR 1947 PROGRAM EBENEZER CHURCH PHOTOS CIIVL RIGHTS
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SCARCE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR 1947 PROGRAM EBENEZER CHURCH PHOTOS CIIVL RIGHTS:
YOU WILL NEVER FIND ANYTHING RARE THAN TGHIS. IT IS AN ORIGINAL SOUVENIR PROGRAM FOR THE SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CHURCH AND FIFTEENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PASTOR MARCH 10-16, 1947 EBENEZER BAPTIST CHURCH IN ATLANTA GEORGIA WITH REV. M.L. KING, PASTOR.
FEATURES MANY IMPORTANT CIVILK RIGHTS LEADERS AND MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION. ADS FEATURED AT END OF PROGRAM. 9 1/4 X 12 INCHES. IN FAIR SHAPE.
obtained from Woodie King Brown. MLK Sr. sister. She lived in Detroit and died in Detroit.
Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr.; January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who was one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination on April 4, 1968. A Black church leader and a son of early civil rights activist and minister Martin Luther King Sr., King advanced civil rights for people of color in the United States through nonviolence and civil disobedience. Inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi, he led targeted, nonviolent resistance against Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination in the United States.
King participated in and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other civil rights. He oversaw the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). As president of the SCLC, he led the unsuccessful Albany Movement in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize some of the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King was one of the leaders of the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The civil rights movement achieved pivotal legislative gains in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
The SCLC put into practice the tactics of nonviolent protest with some success by strategically choosing the methods and places in which protests were carried out. There were several dramatic standoffs with segregationist authorities, who frequently responded violently. King was jailed several times. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director J. Edgar Hoover considered King a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963 forward. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, spied on his personal life, and secretly recorded him. In 1964, the FBI mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War. In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People's Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by national mourning, as well as anger leading to riots in many U.S. cities. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2003. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in cities and states throughout the United States beginning in 1971; the federal holiday was first observed in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and King County in Washington was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.
Early life and educationBirthKing was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the second of three children to Michael King and Alberta King (née Williams). King had an older sister, Christine King Farris, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel "A. D." King. Alberta's father, Adam Daniel Williams, was a minister in rural Georgia, moved to Atlanta in 1893, and became pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in the following year. Williams married Jennie Celeste Parks. King Sr. was born to sharecroppers James Albert and Delia King of Stockbridge, Georgia, and was of African-Irish descent. In his adolescent years, King Sr. left his parents' farm and walked to Atlanta where he attained a high school education, and enrolled in Morehouse College to study for entry to the ministry. King Sr. and Alberta began dating in 1920, and married on November 25, 1926. Until Jennie's death in 1941, they lived together on the second floor of Alberta's parents' two-story Victorian house, where King was born.
Shortly after marrying Alberta, King Sr. became assistant pastor of the Ebenezer church. Senior pastor Williams died in the spring of 1931 and, that fall, King Sr. took the role. With vital support from his wife, he would in time raise attendance from six hundred to several thousand. In 1934, the church sent King Sr. on a multinational trip, including to Berlin for the meeting of the Congress of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). He also visited sites in Germany associated with the Reformation leader, Martin Luther. While there, King Sr. and the BWA delegates witnessed the rise of Nazism. In reaction, the BWA issued a resolution stating, "This Congress deplores and condemns as a violation of the law of God the Heavenly Father, all racial animosity, and every form of oppression or unfair discrimination toward the Jews, toward colored people, or toward subject races in any part of the world." On returning home in August 1934, King Sr. changed his name to Martin Luther King and his five-year-old son's name to Martin Luther King Jr.[a]
King's childhood home in Atlanta, GeorgiaAt his childhood home, King and his two siblings would read aloud the Bible as instructed by their father. After dinners there, King's grandmother Jennie, whom he affectionately referred to as "Mama", would tell lively stories from the Bible to her grandchildren. King's father would regularly use whippings to discipline his children. At times, King Sr. would also have his children whip each other. King's father later remarked, "[King] was the most peculiar child whenever you whipped him. He'd stand there, and the tears would run down, and he'd never cry." Once, when King witnessed his brother A.D. emotionally upset his sister Christine, he took a telephone and knocked out A.D. with it. When he and his brother were playing at their home, A.D. slid from a banister and hit into their grandmother, Jennie, causing her to fall unresponsive. King, believing her dead, blamed himself and attempted suicide by jumping from a second-story window. Upon hearing that his grandmother was alive, King rose and left the ground where he had fallen.
King became friends with a white boy whose father owned a business across the street from his family's home. In September 1935, when the boys were about six years old, they started school. King had to attend a school for black children, Yonge Street Elementary School, while his close playmate went to a separate school for white children only. Soon afterwards, the parents of the white boy stopped allowing King to play with their son, stating to him, "we are white, and you are colored". When King relayed the happenings to his parents, they had a long discussion with him about the history of slavery and racism in America. Upon learning of the hatred, violence and oppression that black people had faced in the U.S., King would later state that he was "determined to hate every white person". His parents instructed him that it was his Christian duty to love everyone.
King witnessed his father stand up against segregation and various forms of discrimination. Once, when stopped by a police officer who referred to King Sr. as "boy", King's father responded sharply that King was a boy but he was a man. When King's father took him into a shoe store in downtown Atlanta, the clerk told them they needed to sit in the back. King's father refused, stating "we'll either buy shoes sitting here or we won't buy any shoes at all", before taking King and leaving the store. He told King afterward, "I don't care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it." In 1936, King's father led hundreds of African Americans in a civil rights march to the city hall in Atlanta, to protest voting rights discrimination. King later remarked that King Sr. was "a real father" to him.
King memorized and sang hymns, and stated verses from the Bible, by the time he was five years old. Over the next year, he began to go to church events with his mother and sing hymns while she played piano. His favorite hymn to sing was "I Want to Be More and More Like Jesus"; he moved attendees with his singing. King later became a member of the junior choir in his church. King enjoyed opera, and played the piano. As he grew up, King garnered a large vocabulary from reading dictionaries and consistently used his expanding lexicon. He got into physical altercations with boys in his neighborhood, but oftentimes used his knowledge of words to stymie fights. King showed a lack of interest in grammar and spelling, a trait that he carried throughout his life. In 1939, King sang as a member of his church choir in slave costume, for the all-white audience at the Atlanta premiere of the film Gone with the Wind. In September 1940, at the age of 11, King was enrolled at the Atlanta University Laboratory School for the seventh grade. While there, King took violin and piano lessons, and showed keen interest in his history and English classes.
On May 18, 1941, when King had sneaked away from studying at home to watch a parade, he was informed that something had happened to his maternal grandmother. Upon returning home, he found out that she had suffered a heart attack and died while being transported to a hospital. He took the death very hard and believed that his deception of going to see the parade may have been responsible for God taking her. King jumped out of a second-story window at his home, but again survived an attempt to kill himself. His father instructed him in his bedroom that King should not blame himself for her death, and that she had been called home to God as part of God's plan that could not be changed. King struggled with this, and could not fully believe that his parents knew where his grandmother had gone. Shortly thereafter, King's father decided to move the family to a two-story brick home on a hill that overlooked downtown Atlanta.
The high school that King attended was named after African-American educator Booker T. Washington.In his adolescent years, he initially felt resentment against whites due to the "racial humiliation" that he, his family, and his neighbors often had to endure in the segregated South. In 1942, when King was 13 years old, he became the youngest assistant manager of a newspaper delivery station for the Atlanta Journal. That year, King skipped the ninth grade and was enrolled in Booker T. Washington High School, where he maintained a B-plus average. The high school was the only one in the city for African-American students. It had been formed after local black leaders, including King's grandfather (Williams), urged the city government of Atlanta to create it.
While King was brought up in a Baptist home, King grew skeptical of some of Christianity's claims as he entered adolescence. He began to question the literalist teachings preached at his father's church. At the age of 13, he denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school. King said that he found himself unable to identify with the emotional displays and gestures from congregants frequent at his church, and doubted if he would ever attain personal satisfaction from religion. He later stated of this point in his life, "doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly."
In high school, King became known for his public-speaking ability, with a voice that had grown into an orotund baritone. He proceeded to join the school's debate team. King continued to be most drawn to history and English, and chose English and sociology to be his main subjects while at the school. King maintained an abundant vocabulary. But, he relied on his sister, Christine, to help him with his spelling, while King assisted her with math. They studied in this manner routinely until Christine's graduation from high school. King also developed an interest in fashion, commonly adorning himself in well polished patent leather shoes and tweed suits, which gained him the nickname "Tweed" or "Tweedie" among his friends. He further grew a liking for flirting with girls and dancing. His brother A. D. later remarked, "He kept flitting from chick to chick, and I decided I couldn't keep up with him. Especially since he was crazy about dances, and just about the best jitterbug in town."
On April 13, 1944, in his junior year, King gave his first public speech during an oratorical contest, sponsored by the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World in Dublin, Georgia. In his speech he stated, "black America still wears chains. The finest negro is at the mercy of the meanest white man. Even winners of our highest honors face the class color bar." King was selected as the winner of the contest. On the ride home to Atlanta by bus, he and his teacher were ordered by the driver to stand so that white passengers could sit down. The driver of the bus called King a "black son-of-a-bitch". King initially refused but complied after his teacher told him that he would be breaking the law if he did not follow the directions of the driver. As all the seats were occupied, he and his teacher were forced to stand on the rest of the drive back to Atlanta. Later King wrote of the incident, saying "That night will never leave my memory. It was the angriest I have ever been in my life."
Morehouse CollegeDuring King's junior year in high school, Morehouse College—an all-male historically black college that King's father and maternal grandfather had attended—began accepting high school juniors who passed the school's entrance examination. As World War II was underway many black college students had been enlisted in the war, decreasing the numbers of students at Morehouse College. So, the university aimed to increase their student numbers by allowing juniors to apply. In 1944, at the age of 15, King passed the entrance examination and was enrolled at the university for the school season that autumn.[b]
In the summer before King started his freshman year at Morehouse, he boarded a train with his friend—Emmett "Weasel" Proctor—and a group of other Morehouse College students to work in Simsbury, Connecticut, at the Tobacco farm of Cullman Brothers Tobacco (a cigar business). This was King's first trip outside of the segregated south into the integrated north. In a June 1944 letter to his father King wrote about the differences that struck him between the two parts of the country, "On our way here we saw some things I had never anticipated to see. After we passed Washington there was no discrimination at all. The white people here are very nice. We go to any place we want to and sit any where we want to." The students worked at the farm to be able to provide for their educational costs at Morehouse College, as the farm had partnered with the college to allot their salaries towards the university's tuition, housing, and other fees. On weekdays King and the other students worked in the fields, picking Tobacco from 7:00am till at least 5:00pm, enduring temperatures above 100 °F, to earn roughly USD$4 per day. On Friday evenings, King and the other students visited downtown Simsbury to get milkshakes and watch movies, and on Saturdays they would travel to Hartford, Connecticut, to see theatre performances, shop and eat in restaurants. On each Sunday they would go to Hartford to attend church services, at a church filled with white congregants. King wrote to his parents about the lack of segregation in Connecticut, relaying how he was amazed they could go to "one of the finest restaurants in Hartford" and that "Negroes and whites go to the same church".
He played freshman football there. The summer before his last year at Morehouse, in 1947, the 18-year-old King chose to enter the ministry. Throughout his time in college, King studied under the mentorship of its president, Baptist minister Benjamin Mays, who he would later credit with being his "spiritual mentor". King had concluded that the church offered the most assuring way to answer "an inner urge to serve humanity". His "inner urge" had begun developing, and he made peace with the Baptist Church, as he believed he would be a "rational" minister with sermons that were "a respectful force for ideas, even social protest." King graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in sociology in 1948, aged nineteen.
Religious education, ministry, marriage and familyCrozer Theological SeminaryA large facade of a buildingKing received a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Crozer Theological Seminary (pictured in 2009).King enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania. King's father fully supported his decision to continue his education and made arrangements for King to work with prominent Crozer alum, J. Pius Barbour, a family friend who pastored at Calvary Baptist Church in nearby Chester, Pennsylvania. King became known as one of the "Sons of Calvary", an honor he shared with William Augustus Jones Jr. and Samuel D. Proctor who both went on to become well-known preachers in the black church.
While attending Crozer, King was joined by Walter McCall, a former classmate at Morehouse. At Crozer, King was elected president of the student body. The African-American students of Crozer for the most part conducted their social activity on Edwards Street. King became fond of the street because a classmate had an aunt who prepared collard greens for them, which they both relished.
King once reproved another student for keeping beer in his room, saying they had shared responsibility as African Americans to bear "the burdens of the Negro race". For a time, he was interested in Walter Rauschenbusch's "social gospel". In his third year at Crozer, King became romantically involved with the white daughter of an immigrant German woman who worked as a dietitian in the cafeteria. King planned to marry her, but friends, as well as King's father, advised against it, saying that an interracial marriage would provoke animosity from both blacks and whites, potentially damaging his chances of ever pastoring a church in the South. King tearfully told a friend that he could not endure his mother's pain over the marriage and broke the relationship off six months later. He continued to have lingering feelings toward the woman he left; one friend was quoted as saying, "He never recovered."  Other friends, including Harry Belafonte, said Betty had been "the love of King's life." King graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity (B.Div.) degree in 1951. He applied to the University of Edinburgh to do his doctorate in the School of Divinity. An offer was made by Edinburgh but he chose Boston instead.
Boston UniversitySee also: Martin Luther King Jr. authorship issuesIn 1951, King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University. While pursuing doctoral studies, King worked as an assistant minister at Boston's historic Twelfth Baptist Church with William Hunter Hester. Hester was an old friend of King's father and was an important influence on King. In Boston, King befriended a small cadre of local ministers his age, and sometimes guest pastored at their churches, including Michael Haynes, associate pastor at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury (and younger brother of jazz drummer Roy Haynes). The young men often held bull sessions in their various apartments, discussing theology, sermon style, and social issues.
King attended philosophy classes at Harvard University as an audit student in 1952 and 1953.
At the age of 25 in 1954, King was called as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. King received his PhD degree on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation (initially supervised by Edgar S. Brightman and, upon the latter's death, by Lotan Harold DeWolf) titled A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.
An academic inquiry in October 1991 concluded that portions of his doctoral dissertation had been plagiarized and he had acted improperly. However, "[d]espite its finding, the committee said that 'no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King's doctoral degree,' an action that the panel said would serve no purpose." The committee found that the dissertation still "makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship." A letter is now attached to the copy of King's dissertation held in the university library, noting that numerous passages were included without the appropriate quotations and citations of sources. Significant debate exists on how to interpret King's plagiarism.
Marriage and family
Martin Luther King Jr. with his wife, Coretta Scott King, and daughter, Yolanda Denise King, in 1956While studying at Boston University, he asked a friend from Atlanta named Mary Powell, who was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, if she knew any nice Southern girls. Powell asked fellow student Coretta Scott if she was interested in meeting a Southern friend studying divinity. Scott was not interested in dating preachers but eventually agreed to allow Martin to telephone her based on Powell's description and vouching. On their first phone call, King told Scott "I am like Napoleon at Waterloo before your charms," to which she replied, "You haven't even met me." They went out for dates in his green Chevy. After the second date, King was certain Scott possessed the qualities he sought in a wife. She had been an activist at Antioch as an undergraduate student.
King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents' house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama. They became the parents of four children: Yolanda King (1955–2007), Martin Luther King III (b. 1957), Dexter Scott King (b. 1961), and Bernice King (b. 1963). During their marriage, King limited Coretta's role in the civil rights movement, expecting her to be a housewife and mother.
In December 1959, after being based in Montgomery for five years, King announced his return to Atlanta at the request of the SCLC. In Atlanta, King served until his death as co-pastor with his father at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, and helped expand the Civil Rights Movement across the South.
Activism and organizational leadershipMontgomery bus boycott, 1955Main articles: Montgomery bus boycott and Jim Crow laws § Public arena
King (left) with civil rights activist Rosa Parks (right) in 1955The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where King was called to be a minister in 1954, was influential in the Montgomery, Alabama, African-American community. As the church's pastor, he became known for his oratorical preaching in Montgomery and the surrounding region.
In March 1955, Claudette Colvin—a fifteen-year-old black schoolgirl in Montgomery—refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in violation of Jim Crow laws, local laws in the Southern United States that enforced racial segregation. King was on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into the case; E. D. Nixon and Clifford Durr decided to wait for a better case to pursue because the incident involved a minor.
Nine months later on December 1, 1955, a similar incident occurred when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus. The two incidents led to the Montgomery bus boycott, which was urged and planned by Nixon and led by King. King was in his twenties, and had just taken up his clerical role. The other ministers asked him to take a leadership role simply because his relative newness to community leadership made it easier for him to speak out. King was hesitant about taking the role but decided to do so if no one else wanted it.
The boycott lasted for 385 days, and the situation became so tense that King's house was bombed. King was arrested for traveling 30 mph in a 25 mph zone and jailed during this campaign, which overnight drew the attention of national media, and greatly increased King's public stature. The controversy ended when the United States District Court issued a ruling in Browder v. Gayle that prohibited racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. Blacks resumed riding the buses again, and were able to sit in the front with full legal authorization.
King's role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.King first rose to prominence in the civil rights movement while minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.Southern Christian Leadership ConferenceIn 1957, King, Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Joseph Lowery, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The group was created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct nonviolent protests in the service of civil rights reform. The group was inspired by the crusades of evangelist Billy Graham, who befriended King, as well as the national organizing of the group In Friendship, founded by King allies Stanley Levison and Ella Baker. King led the SCLC until his death. The SCLC's 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom was the first time King addressed a national audience. Other civil rights leaders involved in the SCLC with King included: James Bevel, Allen Johnson, Curtis W. Harris, Walter E. Fauntroy, C. T. Vivian, Andrew Young, The Freedom Singers, Cleveland Robinson, Randolph Blackwell, Annie Bell Robinson Devine, Charles Kenzie Steele, Alfred Daniel Williams King, Benjamin Hooks, Aaron Henry and Bayard Rustin.
The Gandhi SocietyHarry Wachtel joined King's legal advisor Clarence B. Jones in defending four ministers of the SCLC in the libel case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan; the case was litigated about the newspaper advertisement "Heed Their Rising Voices". Wachtel founded a tax-exempt fund to cover the suit's expenses and assist the nonviolent civil rights movement through a more effective means of fundraising. This organization was named the "Gandhi Society for Human Rights". King served as honorary president for the group. He was displeased with the pace that President Kennedy was using to address the issue of segregation. In 1962, King and the Gandhi Society produced a document that called on the President to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and issue an executive order to deliver a blow for civil rights as a kind of Second Emancipation Proclamation. Kennedy did not execute the order.
The FBI was under written directive from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy when it began tapping King's telephone line in the fall of 1963. Kennedy was concerned that public allegations of communists in the SCLC would derail the administration's civil rights initiatives. He warned King to discontinue these associations and later felt compelled to issue the written directive that authorized the FBI to wiretap King and other SCLC leaders. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover feared the civil rights movement and investigated the allegations of communist infiltration. When no evidence emerged to support this, the FBI used the incidental details caught on tape over the next five years, as part of its COINTELPRO program, in attempts to force King out of his leadership position 
King believed that organized, nonviolent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow laws would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights. Journalistic accounts and televised footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights workers and marchers, produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion that convinced the majority of Americans that the civil rights movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960s.
King organized and led marches for blacks' right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into the law of the United States with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
The SCLC put into practice the tactics of nonviolent protest with great success by strategically choosing the methods and places in which protests were carried out. There were often dramatic stand-offs with segregationist authorities, who sometimes turned violent.
Survived knife attack, 1958On September 20, 1958, King was signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom in Blumstein's department store in Harlem when he narrowly escaped death. Izola Curry—a mentally ill black woman who thought that King was conspiring against her with communists—stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener, which nearly impinged on the aorta. King received first aid by police officers Al Howard and Philip Romano. King underwent emergency surgery with three doctors: Aubre de Lambert Maynard, Emil Naclerio and John W. V. Cordice; he remained hospitalized for several weeks. Curry was later found mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Atlanta sit-ins, prison sentence, and the 1960 elections
King led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and later became co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (pulpit and sanctuary pictured).Georgia governor Ernest Vandiver expressed open hostility towards King's return to his hometown in late 1959. He claimed that "wherever M. L. King Jr., has been there has followed in his wake a wave of crimes", and vowed to keep King under surveillance. On May 4, 1960, several months after his return, King drove writer Lillian Smith to Emory University when police stopped them. King was cited for "driving without a license" because he had not yet been issued a Georgia license. King's Alabama license was still valid, and Georgia law did not mandate any time limit for issuing a local license. King paid a fine but was unaware that his lawyer agreed to a plea deal that also included a probationary sentence.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Student Movement had been acting to desegregate businesses and public spaces in the city, organizing the Atlanta sit-ins from March 1960 onwards. In August the movement asked King to participate in a mass October sit-in, timed to highlight how 1960's Presidential election campaign had ignored civil rights. The coordinated day of action took place on October 19. King participated in a sit-in at the restaurant inside Rich's, Atlanta's largest department store, and was among the many arrested that day. The authorities released everyone over the next few days, except for King. Invoking his probationary plea deal, judge J. Oscar Mitchell sentenced King on October 25 to four months of hard labor. Before dawn the next day, King was taken from his county jail cell and transported to Georgia State Prison.
The arrest and harsh sentence drew nationwide attention. Many feared for King's safety, as he started a prison sentence with people convicted of violent crimes, many of them White and hostile to his activism. Both Presidential candidates were asked to weigh in, at a time when both parties were courting the support of Southern Whites and their political leadership including Governor Vandiver. Nixon, with whom King had a closer relationship before, declined to make a statement despite a personal visit from Jackie Robinson requesting his intervention. Nixon's opponent John F. Kennedy called the governor (a Democrat) directly, enlisted his brother Robert to exert more pressure on state authorities, and also, at the personal request of Sargent Shriver, made a phone call to King's wife to express his sympathy and offer his help. The pressure from Kennedy and others proved effective, and King was released two days later. King's father decided to openly endorse Kennedy's candidacy for the November 8 election which he narrowly won.
After the October 19 sit-ins and following unrest, a 30-day truce was declared in Atlanta for desegregation negotiations. However, the negotiations failed and sit-ins and boycotts resumed in full swing for several months. On March 7, 1961, a group of Black elders including King notified student leaders that a deal had been reached: the city's lunch counters would desegregate in fall 1961, in conjunction with the court-mandated desegregation of schools. Many students were disappointed at the compromise. In a large meeting on March 10 at Warren Memorial Methodist Church, the audience was hostile and frustrated towards the elders and the compromise. King then gave an impassioned speech calling participants to resist the "cancerous disease of disunity", and helping to calm tensions.
Albany Movement, 1961Main article: Albany MovementThe Albany Movement was a desegregation coalition formed in Albany, Georgia, in November 1961. In December, King and the SCLC became involved. The movement mobilized thousands of citizens for a broad-front nonviolent attack on every aspect of segregation within the city and attracted nationwide attention. When King first visited on December 15, 1961, he "had planned to stay a day or so and return home after giving counsel." The following day he was swept up in a mass arrest of peaceful demonstrators, and he declined bail until the city made concessions. According to King, "that agreement was dishonored and violated by the city" after he left town.
King returned in July 1962 and was given the option of forty-five days in jail or a $178 fine (equivalent to $1,700 in 2022); he chose jail. Three days into his sentence, Police Chief Laurie Pritchett discreetly arranged for King's fine to be paid and ordered his release. "We had witnessed persons being kicked off lunch counter stools ... ejected from churches ... and thrown into jail ... But for the first time, we witnessed being kicked out of jail." It was later acknowledged by the King Center that Billy Graham was the one who bailed King out of jail during this time.
After nearly a year of intense activism with few tangible results, the movement began to deteriorate. King requested a halt to all demonstrations and a "Day of Penance" to promote nonviolence and maintain the moral high ground. Divisions within the black community and the canny, low-key response by local government defeated efforts. Though the Albany effort proved a key lesson in tactics for King and the national civil rights movement, the national media was highly critical of King's role in the defeat, and the SCLC's lack of results contributed to a growing gulf between the organization and the more radical SNCC. After Albany, King sought to choose engagements for the SCLC in which he could control the circumstances, rather than entering into pre-existing situations.Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy with King, Benjamin Mays, and other civil rights leaders, June 22, 1963Birmingham campaign, 1963Main article: Birmingham campaign
King was arrested in 1963 for protesting the treatment of blacks in Birmingham.In April 1963, the SCLC began a campaign against racial segregation and economic injustice in Birmingham, Alabama. The campaign used nonviolent but intentionally confrontational tactics, developed in part by Wyatt Tee Walker. Black people in Birmingham, organizing with the SCLC, occupied public spaces with marches and sit-ins, openly violating laws that they considered unjust.
King's intent was to provoke mass arrests and "create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation." The campaign's early volunteers did not succeed in shutting down the city, or in drawing media attention to the police's actions. Over the concerns of an uncertain King, SCLC strategist James Bevel changed the course of the campaign by recruiting children and young adults to join in the demonstrations. Newsweek called this strategy a Children's Crusade.
During the protests, the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene "Bull" Connor, used high-pressure water jets and police dogs against protesters, including children. Footage of the police response was broadcast on national television news and dominated the nation's attention, shocking many white Americans and consolidating black Americans behind the movement. Not all of the demonstrators were peaceful, despite the avowed intentions of the SCLC. In some cases, bystanders attacked the police, who responded with force. King and the SCLC were criticized for putting children in harm's way. But the campaign was a success: Connor lost his job, the "Jim Crow" signs came down, and public places became more open to blacks. King's reputation improved immensely.
King was arrested and jailed early in the campaign—his 13th arrest out of 29. From his cell, he composed the now-famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" that responds to calls on the movement to pursue legal channels for social change. The letter has been described as "one of the most important historical documents penned by a modern political prisoner". King argues that the crisis of racism is too urgent, and the current system too entrenched: "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." He points out that the Boston Tea Party, a celebrated act of rebellion in the American colonies, was illegal civil disobedience, and that, conversely, "everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was 'legal'." Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, arranged for $160,000 to bail out King and his fellow protestors.
"I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season."
—Martin Luther King Jr.0:11CCMartin Luther King Jr. speaking in an interview in the Netherlands, 1964March on Washington, 1963Main article: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Leaders of the March on Washington posing in front of the Lincoln Memorial
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963)King, representing the SCLC, was among the leaders of the "Big Six" civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28, 1963. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were Roy Wilkins from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Whitney Young, National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; and James L. Farmer Jr., of the Congress of Racial Equality.
Bayard Rustin's open homosexuality, support of socialism, and his former ties to the Communist Party USA caused many white and African-American leaders to demand King distance himself from Rustin, which King agreed to do. However, he did collaborate in the 1963 March on Washington, for which Rustin was the primary logistical and strategic organizer. For King, this role was another which courted controversy, since he was one of the key figures who acceded to the wishes of United States President John F. Kennedy in changing the focus of the march.
Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, because he was concerned it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation. However, the organizers were firm that the march would proceed. With the march going forward, the Kennedys decided it was important to work to ensure its success. President Kennedy was concerned the turnout would be less than 100,000. Therefore, he enlisted the aid of additional church leaders and Walter Reuther, president of the United Automobile Workers, to help mobilize demonstrators for the cause.
The March, a 1964 documentary film produced by the United States Information Agency. King's speech has been redacted from this video because of the copyright held by King's estate.The march originally was conceived as an event to dramatize the desperate condition of blacks in the southern U.S. and an opportunity to place organizers' concerns and grievances squarely before the seat of power in the nation's capital. Organizers intended to denounce the federal government for its failure to safeguard the civil rights and physical safety of civil rights workers and blacks. The group acquiesced to presidential pressure and influence, and the event ultimately took on a far less strident tone. As a result, some civil rights activists felt it presented an inaccurate, sanitized pageant of racial harmony; Malcolm X called it the "Farce on Washington", and the Nation of Islam forbade its members from attending the march.King gave his most famous speech, "I Have a Dream", before the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.I Have a Dream0:3030-second sample from "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963Problems playing this file? See media help.The march made specific demands: an end to racial segregation in public schools; meaningful civil rights legislation, including a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment; protection of civil rights workers from police brutality; a $2 minimum wage for all workers (equivalent to $19 in 2022); and self-government for Washington, D.C., then governed by congressional committee. Despite tensions, the march was a resounding success. More than a quarter of a million people of diverse ethnicities attended the event, sprawling from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial onto the National Mall and around the reflecting pool. At the time, it was the largest gathering of protesters in Washington, D.C.'s history.
I Have a DreamMain article: I Have a DreamKing delivered a 17-minute speech, later known as "I Have a Dream". In the speech's most famous passage – in which he departed from his prepared text, possibly at the prompting of Mahalia Jackson, who shouted behind him, "Tell them about the dream!" – King said:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
"I Have a Dream" came to be regarded as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory. The March, and especially King's speech, helped put civil rights at the top of the agenda of reformers in the United States and facilitated passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The original typewritten copy of the speech, including King's handwritten notes on it, was discovered in 1984 to be in the hands of George Raveling, the first African-American basketball coach of the University of Iowa. In 1963, Raveling, then 26 years old, was standing near the podium, and immediately after the oration, impulsively asked King if he could have his copy of the speech, and he got it.
St. Augustine, Florida, 1964Main article: St. Augustine movementIn March 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with Robert Hayling's then-controversial movement in St. Augustine, Florida. Hayling's group had been affiliated with the NAACP but was forced out of the organization for advocating armed self-defense alongside nonviolent tactics. However, the pacifist SCLC accepted them. King and the SCLC worked to bring white Northern activists to St. Augustine, including a delegation of rabbis and the 72-year-old mother of the governor of Massachusetts, all of whom were arrested. During June, the movement marched nightly through the city, "often facing counter demonstrations by the Klan, and provoking violence that garnered national media attention." Hundreds of the marchers were arrested and jailed. During this movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.
offerdeford, Maine, 1964On May 7, 1964, King spoke at Saint Francis College's "The Negro and the Quest for Identity", in offerdeford, Maine. This was a symposium that brought many civil rights leaders together such as Dorothy Day and Roy Wilkins. King spoke about how "We must get rid of the idea of superior and inferior races," through nonviolent tactics.
New York City, 1964
King at a press conference in March 1964On February 6, 1964, King delivered the inaugural speech of a lecture series initiated at the New School called "The American Race Crisis". In August 2013, almost 50 years later, the school discovered an audiotape with 15 minutes of a question-and-answer session that followed King's address. In these remarks, King referred to a conversation he had recently had with Jawaharlal Nehru in which he compared the sad condition of many African Americans to that of India's untouchables. The original speech recording is part of a collection of audiotapes in Amherst College's Archives & Special Collections in 1989. Dr. King's speech had been rebroadcast on Amherst's student-run radio station, WAMF (now WAMH). The tape was digitized in the fall of 2015 and shared with The New School Archives. In his March 18, 1964, interview by Robert Penn Warren, King compared his activism to his father's, citing his training in non-violence as a key difference. He also discusses the next phase of the civil rights movement and integration.
Scripto strike in Atlanta, 1964Main article: 1964–1965 Scripto strikeStarting in November 1964, King supported a labor strike led by several hundred workers at the Scripto factory in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood of Atlanta, just a few blocks from Ebenezer Baptist. Many of the strikers were also congregants of his church, and the strike was supported by other civil rights leaders in the city. King helped elevate the labor dispute from a local to nationally known event and led the SCLC to organize a nationwide boycott of Scripto products. However, as the strike stretched into December, King, who was wanting to focus more on a civil rights campaign in Selma, Alabama, began to negotiate in secret with Scripto's president Carl Singer and eventually brokered a deal where the SCLC would call off their boycott in exchange for the company giving the striking employees their Christmas bonuses. King's involvement in the strike ended on December 24 and a contract between the company and union was signed on January 9 of the following year.
Selma voting rights movement and "bloody Sunday", 1965Main article: Selma to Montgomery marches
The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965In December 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Selma, Alabama, where the SNCC had been working on voter registration for several months. A local judge issued an injunction that barred any gathering of three or more people affiliated with the SNCC, SCLC, DCVL, or any of 41 named civil rights leaders. This injunction temporarily halted civil rights activity until King defied it by speaking at Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965. During the 1965 march to Montgomery, Alabama, violence by state police and others against the peaceful marchers resulted in much publicity, which made racism in Alabama visible nationwide.
Acting on James Bevel's call for a march from Selma to Montgomery, Bevel and other SCLC members, in partial collaboration with SNCC, attempted to organize a march to the state's capital. The first attempt to march on March 7, 1965, at which King was not present, was aborted because of mob and police violence against the demonstrators. This day has become known as bloody Sunday and was a major turning point in the effort to gain public support for the civil rights movement. It was the clearest demonstration up to that time of the dramatic potential of King and Bevel's nonviolence strategy.
On March 5, King met with officials in the Johnson Administration to request an injunction against any prosecution of the demonstrators. He did not attend the march due to church duties, but he later wrote, "If I had any idea that the state troopers would use the kind of brutality they did, I would have felt compelled to give up my church duties altogether to lead the line." Footage of police brutality against the protesters was broadcast extensively and aroused national public outrage.
King next attempted to organize a march for March 9. The SCLC petitioned for an injunction in federal court against the State of Alabama; this was denied and the judge issued an order blocking the march until after a hearing. Nonetheless, King led marchers on March 9 to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, then held a short prayer session before turning the marchers around and asking them to disperse so as not to violate the court order. The unexpected ending of this second march aroused the surprise and anger of many within the local movement. Meanwhile, on March 11 King cried at the news of Johnson supporting a voting rights bill on television in Marie Foster's living room. The march finally went ahead fully on March 25, 1965. At the conclusion of the march on the steps of the state capitol, King delivered a speech that became known as "How Long, Not Long". In it, King stated that equal rights for African Americans could not be far away, "because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" and "you shall reap what you sow".[c]
Chicago open housing movement, 1966Main article: Chicago Freedom Movement
King standing behind President Johnson as he signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964In 1966, after several successes in the south, King, Bevel, and others in the civil rights organizations took the movement to the North, with Chicago as their first destination. King and Ralph Abernathy, both from the middle class, moved into a building at 1550 S. Hamlin Avenue, in the slums of North Lawndale on Chicago's West Side, as an educational experience and to demonstrate their support and empathy for the poor.
The SCLC formed a coalition with CCCO, Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, an organization founded by Albert Raby, and the combined organizations' efforts were fostered under the aegis of the Chicago Freedom Movement. During that spring, several white couple/black couple tests of real estate offices uncovered racial steering: discriminatory processing of housing requests by couples who were exact matches in income, background, number of children, and other attributes. Several larger marches were planned and executed: in Bogan, Belmont Cragin, Jefferson Park, Evergreen Park (a suburb southwest of Chicago), Gage Park, Marquette Park, and others.President Lyndon B. Johnson meeting with King in the White House Cabinet Room in 1966King later stated and Abernathy wrote that the movement received a worse reception in Chicago than in the South. Marches, especially the one through Marquette Park on August 5, 1966, were met by thrown bottles and screaming throngs. Rioting seemed very possible. King's beliefs militated against his staging a violent event, and he negotiated an agreement with Mayor Richard J. Daley to cancel a march in order to avoid the violence that he feared would result. King was hit by a brick during one march, but continued to lead marches in the face of personal danger.
When King and his allies returned to the South, they left Jesse Jackson, a seminary student who had previously joined the movement in the South, in charge of their organization. Jackson continued their struggle for civil rights by organizing the Operation Breadbasket movement that targeted chain stores that did not deal fairly with blacks.
A 1967 CIA document declassified in 2017 downplayed King's role in the "black militant situation" in Chicago, with a source stating that King "sought at least constructive, positive projects."
Opposition to the Vietnam WarThe black revolution is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes. It is forcing America to face all its interrelated flaws—racism, poverty, militarism, and materialism. It is exposing evils that are rooted deeply in the whole structure of our society. It reveals systemic rather than superficial flaws and suggests that radical reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced
–Martin Luther King Jr.We must recognize that we can't solve our problem now until there is a radical redistribution of economic and political power... this means a revolution of values and other things. We must see now that the evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism are all tied together… you can't really get rid of one without getting rid of the others… the whole structure of American life must be changed. America is a hypocritical nation and [we] must put [our] own house in order.
—Martin Luther King Jr.See also: Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam WarKing was long opposed to American involvement in the Vietnam War, but at first avoided the topic in public speeches in order to avoid the interference with civil rights goals that criticism of President Johnson's policies might have created. At the urging of SCLC's former Director of Direct Action and now the head of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, James Bevel, and inspired by the outspokenness of Muhammad Ali, King eventually agreed to publicly oppose the war as opposition was growing among the American public.
During an April 4, 1967, appearance at the New York City Riverside Church—exactly one year before his death—King delivered a speech titled "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence". He spoke strongly against the U.S.'s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony" and calling the U.S. government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today". He connected the war with economic injustice, arguing that the country needed serious moral change:
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just."
King opposed the Vietnam War because it took money and resources that could have been spent on social welfare at home. The United States Congress was spending more and more on the military and less and less on anti-poverty programs at the same time. He summed up this aspect by saying, "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." He stated that North Vietnam "did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands", and accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, "mostly children". King also criticized American opposition to North Vietnam's land reforms.
King's opposition cost him significant support among white allies, including President Johnson, Billy Graham, union leaders and powerful publishers. "The press is being stacked against me", King said, complaining of what he described as a double standard that applauded his nonviolence at home, but deplored it when applied "toward little brown Vietnamese children". Life magazine called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi", and The Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."King speaking to an anti-Vietnam war rally at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul on April 27, 1967The "Beyond Vietnam" speech reflected King's evolving political advocacy in his later years, which paralleled the teachings of the progressive Highlander Research and Education Center, with which he was affiliated. King began to speak of the need for fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the nation, and more frequently expressed his opposition to the war and his desire to see a redistribution of resources to correct racial and economic injustice. He guarded his language in public to avoid being linked to communism by his enemies, but in private he sometimes spoke of his support for social democracy and democratic socialism.
King stated in "Beyond Vietnam" that "true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar ... it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring." King quoted a United States official who said that from Vietnam to Latin America, the country was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King condemned America's "alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America", and said that the U.S. should support "the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World rather than suppressing their attempts at revolution.
King's stance on Vietnam encouraged Allard K. Lowenstein, William Sloane Coffin and Norman Thomas, with the support of anti-war Democrats, to attempt to persuade King to run against President Johnson in the 1968 United States presidential election. King contemplated but ultimately decided against the proposal on the grounds that he felt uneasy with politics and considered himself better suited for his morally unambiguous role as an activist.
On April 15, 1967, King participated and spoke at an anti-war march from Manhattan's Central Park to the United Nations. The march was organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and initiated by its chairman, James Bevel. At the U.N. King brought up issues of civil rights and the draft:
I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.
Seeing an opportunity to unite civil rights activists and anti-war activists, Bevel convinced King to become even more active in the anti-war effort. Despite his growing public opposition towards the Vietnam War, King was not fond of the hippie culture which developed from the anti-war movement. In his 1967 Massey Lecture, King stated:
The importance of the hippies is not in their unconventional behavior, but in the fact that hundreds of thousands of young people, in turning to a flight from reality, are expressing a profoundly discrediting view on the society they emerge from.
On January 13, 1968 (the day after President Johnson's State of the Union Address), King called for a large march on Washington against "one of history's most cruel and senseless wars".
We need to make clear in this political year, to congressmen on both sides of the aisle and to the president of the United States, that we will no longer tolerate, we will no longer vote for men who continue to see the killings of Vietnamese and Americans as the best way of advancing the goals of freedom and self-determination in Southeast Asia.
Correspondence with Thích Nhất HạnhThích Nhất Hạnh was an influential Vietnamese Buddhist who taught at Princeton University and Columbia University. He had written a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. in 1965 entitled: "In Search of the Enemy of Man". It was during his 1966 stay in the US that Nhất Hạnh met with King and urged him to publicly denounce the Vietnam War. In 1967, King gave a famous speech at the Riverside Church in New York City, his first to publicly question the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Later that year, King nominated Nhất Hạnh for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize. In his nomination, King said, "I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of [this prize] than this gentle monk from Vietnam. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity".
Poor People's Campaign, 1968Main article: Poor People's CampaignRows of tentsA shantytown established in Washington, D.C. to protest economic conditions as a part of the Poor People's CampaignIn 1968, King and the SCLC organized the "Poor People's Campaign" to address issues of economic justice. King traveled the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would march on Washington to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created an "economic bill of rights" for poor Americans.
The campaign was preceded by King's final book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? which laid out his view of how to address social issues and poverty. King quoted from Henry George and George's book, Progress and Poverty, particularly in support of a guaranteed basic income. The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C., demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.
King and the SCLC called on the government to invest in rebuilding America's cities. He felt that Congress had shown "hostility to the poor" by spending "military funds with alacrity and generosity". He contrasted this with the situation faced by poor Americans, claiming that Congress had merely provided "poverty funds with miserliness". His vision was for change that was more revolutionary than mere reform: he cited systematic flaws of "racism, poverty, militarism and materialism", and argued that "reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced."
The Poor People's Campaign was controversial even within the civil rights movement. Rustin resigned from the march, stating that the goals of the campaign were too broad, that its demands were unrealizable, and that he thought that these campaigns would accelerate the backlash and repression on the poor and the black.
Global policyKing was one of the signatories of the agreement to convene a convention for drafting a world constitution. As a result, in 1968, for the first time in human history, a World Constituent Assembly convened to draft and adopt the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
Assassination and aftermathMain article: Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated, is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.I've Been to the Mountaintop0:30Final 30 seconds of "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech by Martin Luther King Jr.Problems playing this file? See media help.On March 29, 1968, King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of the black sanitary public works employees, who were represented by AFSCME Local 1733. The workers had been on strike since March 12 for higher wages and better treatment. In one incident, black street repairmen received pay for two hours when they were sent home because of bad weather, but white employees were paid for the full day.
On April 3, King addressed a rally and delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" address at Mason Temple, the world headquarters of the Church of God in Christ. King's flight to Memphis had been delayed by a bomb threat against his plane. In the prophetic peroration of the last speech of his life, in reference to the bomb threat, King said the following:
And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
King was booked in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel (owned by Walter Bailey) in Memphis. Ralph Abernathy, who was present at the assassination, testified to the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations that King and his entourage stayed at Room 306 so often that it was known as the "King-Abernathy suite". According to Jesse Jackson, who was present, King's last words on the balcony before his assassination were spoken to musician Ben Branch, who was scheduled to perform that night at an event King was attending: "Ben, make sure you play 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty."
King was fatally shot by James Earl Ray at 6:01 p.m., Thursday, April 4, 1968, as he stood on the motel's second-floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder. Abernathy heard the shot from inside the motel room and ran to the balcony to find King on the floor. Jackson stated after the shooting that he cradled King's head as King lay on the balcony, but this account was disputed by other colleagues of King; Jackson later changed his statement to say that he had "reached out" for King.
After emergency chest surgery, King died at St. Joseph's Hospital at 7:05 p.m. According to biographer Taylor Branch, King's autopsy revealed that though only 39 years old, he "had the heart of a 60 year old", which Branch attributed to the stress of 13 years in the civil rights movement. King was initially interred in South View Cemetery in South Atlanta, but in 1977 his remains were transferred to a tomb on the site of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park.
AftermathFurther information: King assassination riotsThe assassination led to a nationwide wave of race riots in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, Louisville, Kansas City, and dozens of other cities. Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy was on his way to Indianapolis for a campaign rally when he was informed of King's death. He gave a short, improvised speech to the gathering of supporters informing them of the tragedy and urging them to continue King's ideal of nonviolence. The following day, he delivered a prepared response in Cleveland. James Farmer Jr. and other civil rights leaders also called for non-violent action, while the more militant Stokely Carmichael called for a more forceful response. The city of Memphis quickly settled the strike on terms favorable to the sanitation workers.
The plan to set up a shantytown in Washington, D.C., was carried out soon after the April 4 assassination. Criticism of King's plan was subdued in the wake of his death, and the SCLC received an unprecedented wave of donations for the purpose of carrying it out. The campaign officially began in Memphis, on May 2, at the hotel where King was murdered. Thousands of demonstrators arrived on the National Mall and stayed for six weeks, establishing a camp they called "Resurrection City".
President Lyndon B. Johnson tried to quell the riots by making several telephone calls to civil rights leaders, mayors and governors across the United States and told politicians that they should warn the police against the unwarranted use of force. However, his efforts did not work out: "I'm not getting through," Johnson told his aides. "They're all holing up like generals in a dugout getting ready to watch a war." Johnson declared April 7 a national day of mourning for the civil rights leader. Vice President Hubert Humphrey attended King's funeral on behalf of the President, as there were fears that Johnson's presence might incite protests and perhaps violence. At his widow's request, King's last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church was played at the funeral, a recording of his "Drum Major" sermon, given on February 4, 1968. In that sermon, King made a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to "feed the hungry", "clothe the naked", "be right on the [Vietnam] war question", and "love and serve humanity". His good friend Mahalia Jackson sang his favorite hymn, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord", at the funeral. The assassination helped to spur the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Two months after King's death, James Earl Ray—who was on the loose from a previous prison escape—was captured at London Heathrow Airport while trying to leave England on a false Canadian passport. He was using the alias Ramon George Sneyd on his way to white-ruled Rhodesia. Ray was quickly extradited to Tennessee and charged with King's murder. He confessed to the assassination on March 10, 1969, though he recanted this confession three days later. On the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray pleaded guilty to avoid a trial conviction and thus the possibility of receiving the death penalty. He was sentenced to a 99-year prison term. Ray later claimed a man he met in Montreal, Quebec, with the alias "Raoul" was involved and that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy. He spent the remainder of his life attempting, unsuccessfully, to withdraw his guilty plea and secure the trial he never had. Ray died in 1998 at age 70.
Allegations of conspiracyMain article: Martin Luther King Jr. assassination conspiracy theories
The sarcophagus for Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King is within the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta, Georgia.Ray's lawyers maintained he was a scapegoat similar to the way that John F. Kennedy's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is seen by conspiracy theorists. Supporters of this assertion said that Ray's confession was given under pressure and that he had been threatened with the death penalty. They admitted that Ray was a thief and burglar, but claimed that he had no record of committing violent crimes with a weapon. However, prison records in different U.S. cities have shown that he was incarcerated on numerous occasions for charges of armed robbery. In a 2008 interview with CNN, Jerry Ray, the younger brother of James Earl Ray, claimed that James was smart and was sometimes able to get away with armed robbery. Jerry Ray said that he had assisted his brother on one such robbery. "I never been with nobody as bold as he is," Jerry said. "He just walked in and put that gun on somebody, it was just like it's an everyday thing."
Those suspecting a conspiracy in the assassination point to the two successive ballistics tests which proved that a rifle similar to Ray's Remington Gamemaster had been the murder weapon. Those tests did not implicate Ray's specific rifle. Witnesses near King at the moment of his death said that the shot came from another location. They said that it came from behind thick shrubbery near the boarding house—which had been cut away in the days following the assassination—and not from the boarding house window. However, Ray's fingerprints were found on various objects (a rifle, a pair of binoculars, articles of clothing, a newspaper) that were left in the bathroom where it was determined the gunfire came from. An examination of the rifle containing Ray's fingerprints determined that at least one shot was fired from the firearm at the time of the assassination.
In 1997, King's son Dexter Scott King met with Ray, and publicly supported Ray's efforts to obtain a new trial.
Two years later, King's widow Coretta Scott King and the couple's children won a wrongful death claim against Loyd Jowers and "other unknown co-conspirators". Jowers claimed to have received $100,000 to arrange King's assassination. The jury of six whites and six blacks found in favor of the King family, finding Jowers to be complicit in a conspiracy against King and that government agencies were party to the assassination. William F. Pepper represented the King family in the trial.
In 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice completed the investigation into Jowers' claims but did not find evidence to support allegations about conspiracy. The investigation report recommended no further investigation unless some new reliable facts are presented. A sister of Jowers admitted that he had fabricated the story so he could make $300,000 from selling the story, and she in turn corroborated his story in order to get some money to pay her income tax.
In 2002, The New York Times reported that a church minister, Ronald Denton Wilson, claimed his father, Henry Clay Wilson—not James Earl Ray—assassinated King. He stated, "It wasn't a racist thing; he thought Martin Luther King was connected with communism, and he wanted to get him out of the way." Wilson provided no evidence to back up his claims.
King researchers David Garrow and Gerald Posner disagreed with William F. Pepper's claims that the government killed King. In 2003, Pepper published a book about the long investigation and trial, as well as his representation of James Earl Ray in his offer for a trial, laying out the evidence and criticizing other accounts. King's friend and colleague, James Bevel, also disputed the argument that Ray acted alone, stating, "There is no way a ten-cent white boy could develop a plan to kill a million-dollar black man." In 2004, Jesse Jackson stated:
The fact is there were saboteurs to disrupt the march. And within our own organization, we found a very key person who was on the government payroll. So infiltration within, saboteurs from without and the press attacks. ... I will never believe that James Earl Ray had the motive, the money and the mobility to have done it himself. Our government was very involved in setting the stage for and I think the escape route for James Earl Ray.
LegacySee also: Memorials to Martin Luther King Jr. and List of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. statue over the west entrance of Westminster Abbey, installed in 1998South AfricaSee also: Black Consciousness MovementKing's legacy includes influences on the Black Consciousness Movement and civil rights movement in South Africa. King's work was cited by, and served as, an inspiration for South African leader Albert Lutuli, who fought for racial justice in his country during apartheid and was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
United KingdomSee also: Northern Ireland civil rights movementKing influenced Irish politician and activist John Hume. Hume, the former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, cited King's legacy as quintessential to the Northern Ireland civil rights movement and the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, calling him "one of my great heroes of the century".
The Martin Luther King Fund and Foundation in the UK was set up as a charity on December 30, 1969, after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and following a visit to the UK in 1969 by his widow, Coretta King.
The Foundation's first chairman, Canon John Collins, stated that the Foundation was to be an active UK national campaign for racial equality, its work also to include community projects in areas of social need, and education. International Personnel (IP), an employment agency, was formed in 1970 out of the foundation's base in Balham, in London's Inner Ring South, to find employment for professionally qualified black people. In its first year, the agency placed ten percent of its applicants in jobs equal to their ability. The Balham Training Scheme operated an evening school at the premises in South London and had a director, coordinator and five lecturers in Typing, Shorthand, English and Math.
The 1975 Martin Luther King Memorial Lecture, entitled "Black People and Employment", was given in the Mahatma Gandhi Hall of the Indian YMCA in London on May 6, 1975, by The Rt Rev. David Sheppard, who was chairman of the fund until his appointment as Bishop of Liverpool in June 1975.
In the late 1970s Wilfred Wood, a Barbadian-British Anglican, Bishop of Croydon from 1985 to 2003, the first black bishop in the Church of England, and instrumental in the establishment of the foundation, became its chair. Wood was second in the "100 Great Black Britons" list in 2004. The 1989 Martin Luther King Memorial Lecture, entitled "To Overcome is to Undertake", was given by the Rt Rev. Wilfred Wood, Bishop of Croydon. The text is still available. The foundation was removed from the Charity Commission list on November 18, 1996, as it had ceased to exist.
In the United Kingdom today, The Northumbria and Newcastle Universities Martin Luther King Peace Committee still exists to honor King's legacy, as represented by his final visit to the UK to receive an honorary degree from Newcastle University in 1967. The Peace Committee operates out of the chaplaincies of the city's two universities, Northumbria and Newcastle, both of which remain centers for the study of Martin Luther King and the US civil rights movement. Inspired by King's vision, it undertakes a range of activities across the UK as it seeks to "build cultures of peace".
In 2017, Newcastle University unveiled a bronze statue of King to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his honorary doctorate ceremony. The Students Union also voted to rename their bar "Luther's".
Banner at the 2012 Republican National ConventionKing has become a national icon in the history of American liberalism and American progressivism. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the U.S. Just days after King's assassination, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII of the Act, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in housing and housing-related transactions on the basis of race, religion, or national origin (later expanded to include sex, familial status, and disability). This legislation was seen as a tribute to King's struggle in his final years to combat residential discrimination in the U.S. The day following King's assassination, school teacher Jane Elliott conducted her first "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" exercise with her class of elementary school students in Riceville, Iowa. Her purpose was to help them understand King's death as it related to racism, something they little understood as they lived in a predominantly white community.
King's wife Coretta Scott King followed in her husband's footsteps and was active in matters of social justice and civil rights until her death in 2006. The same year that Martin Luther King was assassinated, she established the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, dedicated to preserving his legacy and the work of championing nonviolent conflict resolution and tolerance worldwide. Their son, Dexter King, serves as the center's chairman. Daughter Yolanda King, who died in 2007, was a motivational speaker, author and founder of Higher Ground Productions, an organization specializing in diversity training.
Even within the King family, members disagree about his religious and political views about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. King's widow Coretta publicly said that she believed her husband would have supported gay rights. However, his youngest child, Bernice King, has said publicly that he would have been opposed to gay marriage.
On February 4, 1968, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in speaking about how he wished to be remembered after his death, King stated:
I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I'd like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.
I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won't have any money to leave behind. I won't have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.
Martin Luther King Jr. DayMain article: Martin Luther King Jr. DayBeginning in 1971, cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and states established annual holidays to honor King. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King. Observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, it is called Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Following President George H. W. Bush's 1992 proclamation, the holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of King's birthday. On January 17, 2000, for the first time, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty U.S. states. Arizona (1992), New Hampshire (1999) and Utah (2000) were the last three states to recognize the holiday. Utah previously celebrated the holiday at the same time but under the name Human Rights Day.
VenerationMartin Luther King of GeorgiaPastor and MartyrHonored in Holy Christian Orthodox ChurchEpiscopal Church (United States)Evangelical Lutheran Church in AmericaCanonized September 9, 2016, The Christian Cathedral by Timothy Paul BaymonFeast April 4January 15 (Episcopalian and Lutheran)King was canonized by Archbishop Timothy Paul of the Holy Christian Orthodox Church (not to be confused with the Eastern Orthodox Church) on September 9, 2016, at the Christian Cathedral in Springfield, Massachusetts. His feast day was set as April 4, the date of his assassination. King is also honored with a Lesser Feast on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church on April 4 or January 15, the anniversary of his birth. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commemorates King liturgically on January 15.
Ideas, influences, and political stancesChristianity
King at the 1963 Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C.As a Christian minister, King's main influence was Jesus Christ and the Christian gospels, which he would almost always quote in his religious meetings, speeches at church, and in public discourses. King's faith was strongly based in Jesus' commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies, praying for them and blessing them. His nonviolent thought was also based in the injunction to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus' teaching of putting the sword back into its place (Matthew 26:52). In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, King urged action consistent with what he describes as Jesus' "extremist" love, and also quoted numerous other Christian pacifist authors, which was very usual for him. In another sermon, he stated:
Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don't plan to run for any political office. I don't plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I'm doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.
King's private writings show that he rejected biblical literalism; he described the Bible as "mythological", doubted that Jesus was born of a virgin, suggested he may not have been bodily resurrected, and did not believe that the story of Jonah and the whale was true.
Among the thinkers who influeced King's theological outlook were L. Harold DeWolf, Edgar Brightman, Peter Bertocci, Walter George Muelder, Walter Rauschenbusch, and Reinhold Niebuhr.
The Measure of a ManIn 1959, King published a short book called The Measure of a Man, which contained his sermons "What is Man?" and "The Dimensions of a Complete Life". The sermons argued for man's need for God's love and criticized the racial injustices of Western civilization.
NonviolenceA close-up of RustinKing worked alongside Quakers such as Bayard Rustin to develop nonviolent tactics.World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built.
—Martin Luther King Jr.Veteran African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin was King's first regular advisor on nonviolence. King was also advised by the white activists Harris Wofford and Glenn Smiley. Rustin and Smiley came from the Christian pacifist tradition, and Wofford and Rustin both studied Mahatma Gandhi's teachings. Rustin had applied nonviolence with the Journey of Reconciliation campaign in the 1940s, and Wofford had been promoting Gandhism to Southern blacks since the early 1950s.
King had initially known little about Gandhi and rarely used the term "nonviolence" during his early years of activism in the early 1950s. King initially believed in and practiced self-defense, even obtaining guns in his household as a means of defense against possible attackers. The pacifists guided King by showing him the alternative of nonviolent resistance, arguing that this would be a better means to accomplish his goals of civil rights than self-defense. King then vowed to no longer personally use arms.
In the aftermath of the boycott, King wrote Stride Toward Freedom, which included the chapter Pilgrimage to Nonviolence. King outlined his understanding of nonviolence, which seeks to win an opponent to friendship, rather than to humiliate or defeat him. The chapter draws from an address by Wofford, with Rustin and Stanley Levison also providing guidance and ghostwriting.
King was inspired by Gandhi and his success with nonviolent activism, and as a theology student, King described Gandhi as being one of the "individuals who greatly reveal the working of the Spirit of God". King had "for a long time ... wanted to take a trip to India." With assistance from Harris Wofford, the American Friends Service Committee, and other supporters, he was able to fund the journey in April 1959. The trip to India affected King, deepening his understanding of nonviolent resistance and his commitment to America's struggle for civil rights. In a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected, "Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity."
King's admiration of Gandhi's nonviolence did not diminish in later years. He went so far as to hold up his example when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, hailing the "successful precedent" of using nonviolence "in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire ... He struggled only with the weapons of truth, soul force, non-injury and courage."
Another influence for King's nonviolent method was Henry David Thoreau's essay On Civil Disobedience and its theme of refusing to cooperate with an evil system. He also was greatly influenced by the works of Protestant theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, and said that Walter Rauschenbusch's Christianity and the Social Crisis left an "indelible imprint" on his thinking by giving him a theological grounding for his social concerns. King was moved by Rauschenbusch's vision of Christians spreading social unrest in "perpetual but friendly conflict" with the state, simultaneously critiquing it and calling it to act as an instrument of justice. However, he was apparently unaware of the American tradition of Christian pacifism exemplified by Adin Ballou and William Lloyd Garrison. King frequently referred to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as central for his work. King also sometimes used the concept of "agape" (brotherly Christian love). However, after 1960, he ceased employing it in his writings.
Even after renouncing his personal use of guns, King had a complex relationship with the phenomenon of self-defense in the movement. He publicly discouraged it as a widespread practice, but acknowledged that it was sometimes necessary. Throughout his career King was frequently protected by other civil rights activists who carried arms, such as Colonel Stone Johnson, Robert Hayling, and the Deacons for Defense and Justice.
Criticism within the movementKing was criticized by other black leaders during the course of his participation in the civil rights movement. This included opposition by more militant thinkers such as Nation of Islam member Malcolm X. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee founder Ella Baker regarded King as a charismatic media figure who lost touch with the grassroots of the movement as he became close to elite figures like Nelson Rockefeller. Stokely Carmichael, a protege of Baker's, became a black separatist and disagreed with King's plea for racial integration because he considered it an insult to a uniquely African-American culture. He also took issue that King's non-violence approach depended on appealing to America's conscience, feeling America had none to appeal to.
Activism and involvement with Native AmericansKing was an avid supporter of Native American rights. Native Americans were also active supporters of King's civil rights movement which included the active participation of Native Americans. In fact, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) was patterned after the NAACP's Legal Defense and Education Fund. The National Indian Youth Council (NIYC) was especially supportive in King's campaigns especially the Poor People's Campaign in 1968. In King's book Why We Can't Wait he writes:
Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.
King assisted Native American people in south Alabama in the late 1950s. At that time the remaining Creek in Alabama were trying to completely desegregate schools in their area. The South had many racial problems: In this case, light-complexioned Native children were allowed to ride school buses to previously all white schools, while dark-skinned Native children from the same band were barred from riding the same buses. Tribal leaders, upon hearing of King's desegregation campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, contacted him for assistance. He promptly responded and through his intervention the problem was quickly resolved.
In September 1959, King flew from Los Angeles, California, to Tucson, Arizona. After giving a speech at the University of Arizona on the ideals of using nonviolent methods in creating social change. He put into words his belief that one must not use force in this struggle "but match the violence of his opponents with his suffering." King then went to Southside Presbyterian, a predominantly Native American church, and was fascinated by their photos. On the spur of the moment, King wanted to go to an Indian Reservation to meet the people so Casper Glenn took King to the Papago Indian Reservation. At the reservation King met with all the tribal leaders, and others on the reservation then ate with them. King then visited another Presbyterian church near the reservation, and preached there attracting a Native American crowd. He later returned to Old Pueblo in March 1962 where he preached again to a Native American congregation, and then went on to give another speech at the University of Arizona. King would continue to attract the attention of Native Americans throughout the civil rights movement. During the 1963 March on Washington there was a sizable Native American contingent, including many from South Dakota, and many from the Navajo nation. Native Americans were also active participants in the Poor People's Campaign in 1968.
King was a major inspiration, along with the civil rights movement, of the Native American rights movement of the 1960s and many of its leaders. John Echohawk, a member of the Pawnee tribe who was the executive director and a founder of the Native American Rights Fund, stated:
Inspired by Dr. King, who was advancing the civil rights agenda of equality under the laws of this country, we thought that we could also use the laws to advance our Indianship, to live as tribes in our territories governed by our own laws under the principles of tribal sovereignty that had been with us ever since 1831. We believed that we could fight for a policy of self-determination that was consistent with U.S. law and that we could govern our own affairs, define our own ways and continue to survive in this society.
PoliticsAs the leader of the SCLC, King maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U.S. political party or candidate: "I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either." In a 1958 interview, he expressed his view that neither party was perfect, saying, "I don't think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses ... And I'm not inextricably bound to either party." King did praise Democratic Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois as being the "greatest of all senators" because of his fierce advocacy for civil rights causes over the years.
King critiqued both parties' performance on promoting racial equality:
Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right-wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right-wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights.
Although King never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president, in a letter to a civil rights supporter in October 1956 he said that he had not decided whether he would vote for Democrat Adlai Stevenson II or Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower at the 1956 presidential election, but that "In the past, I always voted the Democratic ticket." In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he privately voted for Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy: "I felt that Kennedy would make the best president. I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one." King adds that he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term, saying "Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964."
In 1964, King urged his supporters "and all people of goodwill" to vote against Republican Senator Barry Goldwater for president, saying that his election "would be a tragedy, and certainly suicidal almost, for the nation and the world."
King supported the ideals of democratic socialism, although he was reluctant to speak directly of this support due to the anti-communist sentiment being projected throughout the United States at the time, and the association of socialism with communism. King believed that capitalism could not adequately provide the necessities of many American people, particularly the African-American community. King expressed that "the evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism".
King was critical of American culture saying "when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered" and that America must undergo a "radical revolution of values". King considered that in America "the problem is that we all to often have socialism for the rich and rugged free enterprise capitalism for the poor".
In a 1952 letter to Coretta Scott, he said: "I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic ..." In one speech, he stated that "something is wrong with capitalism" and said, "There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism." King further said that "capitalism has outlived its usefulness" and "failed to meet the needs of the masses". King had read Marx while at Morehouse, but while he rejected "traditional capitalism", he rejected communism because of its "materialistic interpretation of history" that denied religion, its "ethical relativism", and its "political totalitarianism". He stated that capitalism focused too much on the individual while Marxism focused too much on the collective.
CompensationSee also: Reparations for slavery debate in the United StatesKing stated that black Americans, as well as other disadvantaged Americans, should be compensated for historical wrongs. In an interview conducted for Playboy in 1965, he said that granting black Americans only equality could not realistically close the economic gap between them and whites. King said that he did not seek a full restitution of wages lost to slavery, which he believed impossible, but proposed a government compensatory program of $50 billion over ten years to all disadvantaged groups.
He posited that "the money spent would be more than amply justified by the benefits that would accrue to the nation through a spectacular decline in school dropouts, family breakups, crime rates, illegitimacy, swollen relief rolls, rioting and other social evils." He presented this idea as an application of the common law regarding settlement of unpaid labor, but clarified that he felt that the money should not be spent exclusively on blacks. He stated, "It should benefit the disadvantaged of all races."
TelevisionActress Nichelle Nichols planned to leave the science-fiction television series Star Trek in 1967 after its first season, wanting to return to musical theater. She changed her mind after talking to King who was a fan of the show. King explained that her character signified a future of greater racial harmony and cooperation. King told Nichols, "You are our image of where we're going, you're 300 years from now, and that means that's where we are and it takes place now. Keep doing what you're doing, you are our inspiration." As Nichols recounted, "Star Trek was one of the only shows that [King] and his wife Coretta would allow their little children to watch. And I thanked him and I told him I was leaving the show. All the smile came off his face. And he said, 'Don't you understand for the first time we're seen as we should be seen. You don't have a black role. You have an equal role.'" For his part, the series' creator, Gene Roddenberry, was deeply moved upon learning of King's support.
State surveillance and coercionFBI surveillance and wiretapping
Memo describing FBI attempts to disrupt the Poor People's Campaign with fraudulent claims about King—part of the COINTELPRO campaign against the anti-war and civil rights movementsFBI director J. Edgar Hoover personally ordered surveillance of King, with the intent to undermine his power as a civil rights leader. The Church Committee, a 1975 investigation by the U.S. Congress, found that "From December 1963 until his death in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was the target of an intensive campaign by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to 'neutralize' him as an effective civil rights leader."
In the fall of 1963, the FBI received authorization from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to proceed with wiretapping of King's phone lines, purportedly due to his association with Stanley Levison. The Bureau informed President John F. Kennedy. He and his brother unsuccessfully tried to persuade King to dissociate himself from Levison, a New York lawyer who had been involved with Communist Party USA. Although Robert Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King's telephone lines "on a trial basis, for a month or so", Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of King's life they deemed worthy.
The Bureau placed wiretaps on the home and office phone lines of both Levison and King, and bugged King's rooms in hotels as he traveled across the country. In 1967, Hoover listed the SCLC as a black nationalist hate group, with the instructions: "No opportunity should be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques the organizational and personal conflicts of the leaderships of the groups ... to insure [sic] the targeted group is disrupted, ridiculed, or discredited."
NSA monitoring of King's communicationsIn a secret operation code-named "Minaret", the National Security Agency monitored the communications of leading Americans, including King, who were critical of the U.S. war in Vietnam. A review by the NSA itself concluded that Minaret was "disreputable if not outright illegal".
Allegations of communismFor years, Hoover had been suspicious of potential influence of communists in social movements such as labor unions and civil rights. Hoover directed the FBI to track King in 1957, and the SCLC when it was established.
Due to the relationship between King and Stanley Levison, the FBI feared Levison was working as an "agent of influence" over King, in spite of its own reports in 1963 that Levison had left the Party and was no longer associated in business dealings with them. Another King lieutenant, Jack O'Dell, was also linked to the Communist Party by sworn testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).
Despite the extensive surveillance conducted, by 1976 the FBI had acknowledged that it had not obtained any evidence that King himself or the SCLC were actually involved with any communist organizations.
For his part, King adamantly denied having any connections to communism. In a 1965 Playboy interview, he stated that "there are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida." He argued that Hoover was "following the path of appeasement of political powers in the South" and that his concern for communist infiltration of the civil rights movement was meant to "aid and abet the salacious claims of southern racists and the extreme right-wing elements." Hoover did not believe King's pledge of innocence and replied by saying that King was "the most notorious liar in the country". After King gave his "I Have A Dream" speech during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, the FBI described King as "the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country". It alleged that he was "knowingly, willingly and regularly cooperating with and taking guidance from communists."
The attempts to prove that King was a communist was related to the feeling of many segregationists that blacks in the South were content with the status quo, but had been stirred up by "communists" and "outside agitators". As context, the civil rights movement in 1950s and '60s arose from activism within the black community dating back to before World War I. King said that "the Negro revolution is a genuine revolution, born from the same womb that produces all massive social upheavals—the womb of intolerable conditions and unendurable situations."
CIA surveillanceCIA files declassified in 2017 revealed that the agency was investigating possible links between King and Communism after a Washington Post article dated November 4, 1964, claimed he was invited to the Soviet Union and that Ralph Abernathy, as spokesman for King, refused to comment on the source of the invitation. Mail belonging to King and other civil rights activists was intercepted by the CIA program HTLINGUAL.
Allegations of adultery
The only meeting of King and Malcolm X, outside the United States Senate chamber, March 26, 1964, during the Senate debates regarding the (eventual) Civil Rights Act of 1964The FBI, having concluded that King was dangerous due to communist infiltration, began attempting to discredit King through revelations regarding his private life. FBI surveillance of King, some of it since made public, attempted to demonstrate that he also had numerous extramarital affairs. Lyndon B. Johnson once said that King was a "hypocritical preacher".
In his 1989 autobiography And the Walls Came Tumbling Down, Ralph Abernathy stated that King had a "weakness for women", although they "all understood and believed in the biblical prohibition against sex outside of marriage. It was just that he had a particularly difficult time with that temptation." In a later interview, Abernathy said that he only wrote the term "womanizing", that he did not specifically say King had extramarital sex and that the infidelities King had were emotional rather than sexual.
Abernathy criticized the media for sensationalizing the statements he wrote about King's affairs, such as the allegation that he admitted in his book that King had a sexual affair the night before he was assassinated. In his original wording, Abernathy had stated that he saw King coming out of his room with a woman when he awoke the next morning and later said that "he may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don't know ... the Sanitation Worker's Strike."
In his 1986 book Bearing the Cross, David Garrow wrote about a number of extramarital affairs, including one woman King saw almost daily. According to Garrow, "that relationship ... increasingly became the emotional centerpiece of King's life, but it did not eliminate the incidental couplings ... of King's travels." He alleged that King explained his extramarital affairs as "a form of anxiety reduction". Garrow asserted that King's supposed promiscuity caused him "painful and at times overwhelming guilt". King's wife Coretta appeared to have accepted his affairs with equanimity, saying once that "all that other business just doesn't have a place in the very high-level relationship we enjoyed." Shortly after Bearing the Cross was released, civil rights author Howell Raines gave the book a positive review but opined that Garrow's allegations about King's sex life were "sensational" and stated that Garrow was "amassing facts rather than analyzing them".
The FBI distributed reports regarding such affairs to the executive branch, friendly reporters, potential coalition partners and funding sources of the SCLC, and King's family. The bureau also sent anonymous letters to King threatening to reveal information if he did not cease his civil rights work. The FBI–King suicide letter sent to King just before he received the Nobel Peace Prize read, in part:The FBI–King suicide letter, mailed anonymously by the FBIThe American public, the church organizations that have been helping—Protestants, Catholics and Jews will know you for what you are—an evil beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done. King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant [sic]). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.
The letter was accompanied by a tape recording—excerpted from FBI wiretaps—of several of King's extramarital liaisons. King interpreted this package as an attempt to drive him to suicide, although William Sullivan, head of the Domestic Intelligence Division at the time, argued that it may have only been intended to "convince Dr. King to resign from the SCLC." King refused to give in to the FBI's threats.
In 1977, Judge John Lewis Smith Jr. ordered all known copies of the recorded audiotapes and written transcripts resulting from the FBI's electronic surveillance of King between 1963 and 1968 to be held in the National Archives and sealed from public access until 2027.
In May 2019, an FBI file emerged on which a handwritten note alleged that King "looked on, laughed and offered advice" as one of his friends raped a woman. Expert professional historians of the period who have examined this notional evidence have dismissed it as highly unreliable. David Garrow, author of an earlier biography of King, wrote that "the suggestion ... that he either actively tolerated or personally employed violence against any woman, even while drunk, poses so fundamental a challenge to his historical stature as to require the most complete and extensive historical review possible". Garrow's reliance on a handwritten note addended to a typed report is considered poor scholarship by several other authorities. The professor of American studies at the University of Nottingham, Peter Ling, pointed out that Garrow was excessively credulous, if not naive, in accepting the accuracy of FBI reports during a period when the FBI was undertaking a massive operation to attempt to discredit King as part of its COINTELPRO activities. Garrow had earlier referred to Ling's work on King, widely considered authoritative, as "thoughtful, perceptive, and thoroughly well-informed". Experts in 20th-century American history, including Distinguished Professor of Political Science Jeanne Theoharis, the professors Barbara Ransby of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Nathan Connolly of Johns Hopkins University and Professor Emeritus of History Glenda Gilmore of Yale University have expressed reservations about Garrow's scholarship. Theoharis commented "Most scholars I know would penalize graduate students for doing this." It is not the first time the care and rigor of Garrow's work has been called into serious question. Clayborne Carson, Martin Luther King biographer and overseer of the Dr. King records at Stanford University states that he came to the opposite conclusion of Garrow saying "None of this is new. Garrow is talking about a recently added summary of a transcript of a 1964 recording from the Willard Hotel that others, including Mrs. King, have said they did not hear Martin's voice on it. The added summary was four layers removed from the actual recording. This supposedly new information comes from an anonymous source in a single paragraph in an FBI report. You have to ask how could anyone conclude King looked at a rape from an audio recording in a room where he was not present." Carson bases his position of Coretta Scott King's memoirs where she states "I set up our reel-to-reel recorder and listened. I have read scores of reports talking about the scurrilous activities of my husband but once again, there was nothing at all incriminating on the tape. It was a social event with people laughing and telling dirty jokes. But I did not hear Martin's voice on it, and there was nothing about sex or anything else resembling the lies J. Edgar and the FBI were spreading." The tapes that could confirm or refute the allegation are scheduled to be declassified in 2027.
Police observation during the assassinationA fire station was located across from the Lorraine Motel, next to the boarding house in which James Earl Ray was staying. Police officers were stationed in the fire station to keep King under surveillance. Agents were watching King at the time he was shot. Immediately following the shooting, officers rushed out of the station to the motel. Marrell McCollough, an undercover police officer, was the first person to administer first aid to King. The antagonism between King and the FBI, the lack of an all points bulletin to find the killer, and the police presence nearby led to speculation that the FBI was involved in the assassination.
Awards and recognition
King showing his medallion, which he received from Mayor Wagner, 1964King was awarded at least fifty honorary degrees from colleges and universities. On October 14, 1964, King became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in the U.S. In 1965, he was awarded the American Liberties Medallion by the American Jewish Committee for his "exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty." In his acceptance remarks, King said, "Freedom is one thing. You have it all or you are not free."
In 1957, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. Two years later, he won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. In 1966, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America awarded King the Margaret Sanger Award for "his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity." Also in 1966, King was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In November 1967, he made a 24-hour trip to the United Kingdom to receive an honorary Doctorate in Civil Law from Newcastle University, becoming the first African American the institution had recognised in this way. In a moving impromptu acceptance speech, he said
There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face not only in the United States of America but all over the world today. That is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war.King after receiving his honorary doctorate from Newcastle UniversityIn addition to his nominations for three Grammy Awards, King posthumously won for Best Spoken Word Recording in 1971 for "Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam".
In 1977, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was posthumously awarded to King by President Jimmy Carter. The citation read:
Martin Luther King Jr. was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains us yet.
King and his wife were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
King was second in Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In 1963, he was named Time Person of the Year, and, in 2000, he was voted sixth in an online "Person of the Century" poll by the same magazine. King placed third in The Greatest American conducted by the Discovery Channel and AOL.
Five-dollar billOn April 20, 2016, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced that the $5, $10, and $20 bills would all undergo redesign prior to 2020. Lew said that while Lincoln would remain on the front of the $5 bill, the reverse would be redesigned to depict various historical events that had occurred at the Lincoln Memorial. Among the planned designs are images from King's "I Have a Dream" speech and the 1939 concert by opera singer Marian Anderson.
MemorialsMain article: List of memorials to Martin Luther King Jr.Many memorial sites, buildings and sculptures have been created to honor Martin Luther King Jr, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C., the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, located in downtown San Jose, California, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial located in West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., many other memorials have been made in The United States of America and in other countries to honor his legacy.
Honorary doctoratesHe has received several honorary doctorates.
1957 : Doctor of Humane Letters, Morehouse College; Doctor of Laws, Howard University; Doctor of Divinity, Chicago Theological Seminary1958 : Doctor of Laws, Morgan State College; Doctor of Humanities, Central State College1959 : Doctor of Divinity, Boston University1961 : Doctor of Laws, Lincoln University; Doctor of Laws, University of Bridgeport1962 : Doctor of Civil Laws, Bard College1963 : Doctor of Letters, Keuka College1964 : Doctor of Divinity, Wesleyan College; Doctor of Laws, Jewish Theological Seminary; Doctor of Laws, Yale University; Doctor of Divinity, Springfield College1965 : Doctor of Laws, Hofstra University; Doctor of Humane Letters, Oberlin College; Doctor of Social Science, Amsterdam Free University; Doctor of Divinity, St. Peter's College1967 : Doctor of Civil Law, University of Newcastle upon Tyne; Doctor of Laws, Grinnell CollegeWorksStride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story (1958) ISBN 978-0-06-250490-6The Measure of a Man (1959) ISBN 978-0-8006-0877-4Strength to Love (1963) ISBN 978-0-8006-9740-2Why We Can't Wait (1964) ISBN 978-0-8070-0112-7Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) ISBN 978-0-8070-0571-2The Trumpet of Conscience (1968) ISBN 978-0-8070-0170-7A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (1986) ISBN 978-0-06-250931-4The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. (1998), ed. Clayborne Carson ISBN 978-0-446-67650-2"All Labor Has Dignity" (2011) ed. Michael Honey ISBN 978-0-8070-8600-1"Thou, Dear God": Prayers That Open Hearts and Spirits. Collection of King's prayers. (2011), ed. Lewis Baldwin ISBN 978-0-8070-8603-2MLK: A Celebration in Word and Image (2011). Photographed by Bob Adelman, introduced by Charles Johnson ISBN albums by Martin Luther King Jr.Title Year PeakUSThe Great March to Freedom 1963 141The March on Washington 102Freedom March on Washington 119I Have a Dream 1968 69The American Dream 173In Search of Freedom 150In the Struggle for Freedom and Human Dignity 154SinglesCharted singles by Martin Luther King Jr.Title Year Peak AlbumUS"I Have a Dream"(Gordy 7023 – b/w We Shall Overcome, Liz Lands)
1968 88 I Have a Dream (1968)See also Biography portal Civil rights movement portalFlag Georgia (U.S. state) portal Evangelical Christianity portal Saints portalicon Society portalFlag United States portalAfrican American founding fathers of the United StatesCivil rights movement in popular cultureEquality before the lawList of civil rights leadersList of peace activistsList of streets named after Martin Luther King Jr.Memorials to Martin Luther King Jr.Post–civil rights era in African-American historySermons and speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.United States labor lawViolence begets violenceThe civil rights movement[b] was a nonviolent social movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States – with its modern roots in the 1940s – to abolish legalized racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement throughout the United States. The movement had its origins in the Reconstruction era during the late 19th century, although it made its largest legislative gains in the 1960s after years of direct actions and grassroots protests. The social movement's major nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience campaigns eventually secured new protections in federal law for the civil rights of all Americans.
After the American Civil War and the subsequent abolition of slavery in the 1860s, the Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution granted emancipation and constitutional rights of citizenship to all African Americans, most of whom had recently been enslaved. For a short period of time, African-American men voted and held political office, but as time went on they were increasingly deprived of civil rights, often under the racist Jim Crow laws, and African Americans were subjected to discrimination and sustained violence by white supremacists in the South. Over the following century, various efforts were made by African Americans to secure their legal and civil rights, such as the civil rights movement (1865–1896) and the civil rights movement (1896–1954). The movement was characterized by nonviolent mass protests and civil disobedience following highly publicized events such as the lynching of Emmett Till. These included boycotts such as the Montgomery bus boycott, "sit-ins" in Greensboro and Nashville, a series of protests during the Birmingham campaign, and a march from Selma to Montgomery.
At the culmination of a legal strategy pursued by African Americans, in 1954 the Supreme Court struck down many of the laws that had allowed racial segregation and discrimination to be legal in the United States as unconstitutional. The Warren Court made a series of landmark rulings against racist discrimination, including the separate but equal doctrine, such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964), and Loving v. Virginia (1967) which banned segregation in public schools and public accommodations, and struck down all state laws banning interracial marriage. The rulings played a crucial role in bringing an end to the segregationist Jim Crow laws prevalent in the Southern states. In the 1960s, moderates in the movement worked with the United States Congress to achieve the passage of several significant pieces of federal legislation that authorized oversight and enforcement of civil rights laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly banned all discrimination based on race, including racial segregation in schools, businesses, and in public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 restored and protected voting rights by authorizing federal oversight of registration and elections in areas with historic under-representation of minority voters. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.
African Americans re-entered politics in the South, and young people across the country began to take action. From 1964 through 1970, a wave of riots and protests in black communities dampened support from the white middle class, but increased support from private foundations.[clarification needed] The emergence of the Black Power movement, which lasted from 1965 to 1975, challenged Black leaders of the movement for its cooperative attitude and its adherence to legalism and nonviolence. Its leaders demanded not only legal equality, but also economic self-sufficiency for the community. Support for the Black Power movement came from African Americans who had seen little material improvement since the civil rights movement's peak in the mid-1960s, and still faced discrimination in jobs, housing, education and politics. Martin Luther King Jr. was the most visible leader of the movement. However, some scholars note that the movement was too diverse to be credited to any particular person, organization, or strategy.
BackgroundMain articles: African-American history and Timeline of African-American historyAmerican Civil War and Reconstruction eraFurther information: Thirteenth Amendment to the United States ConstitutionBefore the American Civil War, eight serving presidents had owned slaves, almost four million black people remained enslaved in the South, generally only white men with property could vote, and the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U.S. citizenship to whites. Following the Civil War, three constitutional amendments were passed, including the 13th Amendment (1865) that ended slavery; the 14th Amendment (1869) that gave black people citizenship, adding their total for Congressional apportionment; and the 15th Amendment (1870) that gave black males the right to vote (only males could vote in the U.S. at the time). From 1865 to 1877, the United States underwent a turbulent Reconstruction era during which the federal government tried to establish free labor and the civil rights of freedmen in the South after the end of slavery. Many whites resisted the social changes, leading to the formation of insurgent movements such as the Ku Klux Klan, whose members attacked black and white Republicans in order to maintain white supremacy. In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant, the U.S. Army, and U.S. Attorney General Amos T. Akerman, initiated a campaign to repress the KKK under the Enforcement Acts. Some states were reluctant to enforce the federal measures of the act. In addition, by the early 1870s, other white supremacist and insurgent paramilitary groups arose that violently opposed African-American legal equality and suffrage, intimidating and suppressing black voters, and assassinating Republican officeholders. However, if the states failed to implement the acts, the laws allowed the Federal Government to get involved. Many Republican governors were afraid of sending black militia troops to fight the Klan for fear of war.
Disenfranchisement after ReconstructionMain article: Disenfranchisement after the Reconstruction EraFurther information: Jim Crow laws, Civil rights movement (1865–1896), and Civil rights movement (1896–1954)After the disputed election of 1876, which resulted in the end of Reconstruction and the withdrawal of federal troops, whites in the South regained political control of the region's state legislatures. They continued to intimidate and violently attack blacks before and during elections to suppress their voting, but the last African Americans were elected to Congress from the South before disenfranchisement of blacks by states throughout the region, as described below.The mob-style lynching of Will James, Cairo, Illinois, 1909From 1890 to 1908, southern states passed new constitutions and laws to disenfranchise African Americans and many Poor Whites by creating barriers to voter registration; voting rolls were dramatically reduced as blacks and poor whites were forced out of electoral politics. After the landmark Supreme Court case of Smith v. Allwright (1944), which prohibited white primaries, progress was made in increasing black political participation in the Rim South and Acadiana – although almost entirely in urban areas and a few rural localities where most blacks worked outside plantations. The status quo ante of excluding African Americans from the political system lasted in the remainder of the South, especially North Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, until national civil rights legislation was passed in the mid-1960s to provide federal enforcement of constitutional voting rights. For more than sixty years, blacks in the South were essentially excluded from politics, unable to elect anyone to represent their interests in Congress or local government. Since they could not vote, they could not serve on local juries.
During this period, the white-dominated Democratic Party maintained political control of the South. With whites controlling all the seats representing the total population of the South, they had a powerful voting bloc in Congress. The Republican Party—the "party of Lincoln" and the party to which most blacks had belonged—shrank to insignificance except in remote Unionist areas of Appalachia and the Ozarks as black voter registration was suppressed. The Republican lily-white movement also gained strength by excluding blacks. Until 1965, the "Solid South" was a one-party system under the white Democrats. Excepting the previously noted historic Unionist strongholds the Democratic Party nomination was tantamount to election for state and local office. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, president of the Tuskegee Institute, to dine at the White House, making him the first African American to attend an official dinner there. "The invitation was roundly criticized by southern politicians and newspapers." Washington persuaded the president to appoint more blacks to federal posts in the South and to try to boost African-American leadership in state Republican organizations. However, these actions were resisted by both white Democrats and white Republicans as an unwanted federal intrusion into state politics.Lynching victim Will Brown, who was mutilated and burned during the Omaha, Nebraska race riot of 1919. Postcards and photographs of lynchings were popular souvenirs in the U.S.During the same time as African Americans were being disenfranchised, white southerners imposed racial segregation by law. Violence against blacks increased, with numerous lynchings through the turn of the century. The system of de jure state-sanctioned racial discrimination and oppression that emerged from the post-Reconstruction South became known as the "Jim Crow" system. The United States Supreme Court made up almost entirely of Northerners, upheld the constitutionality of those state laws that required racial segregation in public facilities in its 1896 decision Plessy v. Ferguson, legitimizing them through the "separate but equal" doctrine. Segregation, which began with slavery, continued with Jim Crow laws, with signs used to show blacks where they could legally walk, talk, drink, rest, or eat. For those places that were racially mixed, non-whites had to wait until all white customers were served first. Elected in 1912, President Woodrow Wilson gave in to demands by Southern members of his cabinet and ordered segregation of workplaces throughout the federal government.
The early 20th century is a period often referred to as the "nadir of American race relations", when the number of lynchings was highest. While tensions and civil rights violations were most intense in the South, social discrimination affected African Americans in other regions as well. At the national level, the Southern bloc controlled important committees in Congress, defeated passage of federal laws against lynching, and exercised considerable power beyond the number of whites in the South.
Characteristics of the post-Reconstruction period:
Racial segregation. By law, public facilities and government services such as education were divided into separate "white" and "colored" domains. Characteristically, those for colored were underfunded and of inferior quality.Disenfranchisement. When white Democrats regained power, they passed laws that made voter registration more restrictive, essentially forcing black voters off the voting rolls. The number of African-American voters dropped dramatically, and they were no longer able to elect representatives. From 1890 to 1908, Southern states of the former Confederacy created constitutions with provisions that disfranchised tens of thousands of African Americans, and U.S. states such as Alabama disenfranchised poor whites as well.Exploitation. Increased economic oppression of blacks through the convict lease system, Latinos, and Asians,[clarification needed] denial of economic opportunities, and widespread employment discrimination.Violence. Individual, police, paramilitary, organizational, and mob racial violence against blacks (and Latinos in the Southwest, and Asians in the West Coast).
KKK night rally near Chicago, in the 1920sAfrican Americans and other ethnic minorities rejected this regime. They resisted it in numerous ways and sought better opportunities through lawsuits, new organizations, political redress, and labor organizing (see the Civil rights movement (1896–1954)). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909. It fought to end race discrimination through litigation, education, and lobbying efforts. Its crowning achievement was its legal victory in the Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education (1954), when the Warren Court ruled that segregation of public schools in the US was unconstitutional and, by implication, overturned the "separate but equal" doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson of 1896. Following the unanimous Supreme Court ruling, many states began to gradually integrate their schools, but some areas of the South resisted by closing public schools altogether.
The integration of Southern public libraries followed demonstrations and protests that used techniques seen in other elements of the larger civil rights movement. This included sit-ins, beatings, and white resistance. For example, in 1963 in the city of Anniston, Alabama, two black ministers were brutally beaten for attempting to integrate the public library. Though there was resistance and violence, the integration of libraries was generally quicker than the integration of other public institutions.
Colored Sailors room in World War IThe situation for blacks outside the South was somewhat better (in most states they could vote and have their children educated, though they still faced discrimination in housing and jobs). In 1900 Reverend Matthew Anderson, speaking at the annual Hampton Negro Conference in Virginia, said that "...the lines along most of the avenues of wage-earning are more rigidly drawn in the North than in the South. There seems to be an apparent effort throughout the North, especially in the cities to debar the colored worker from all the avenues of higher remunerative labor, which makes it more difficult to improve his economic condition even than in the South." From 1910 to 1970, blacks sought better lives by migrating north and west out of the South. A total of nearly seven million blacks left the South in what was known as the Great Migration, most during and after World War II. So many people migrated that the demographics of some previously black-majority states changed to a white majority (in combination with other developments). The rapid influx of blacks altered the demographics of Northern and Western cities; happening at a period of expanded European, Hispanic, and Asian immigration, it added to social competition and tensions, with the new migrants and immigrants battling for a place in jobs and housing.A white gang looking for blacks during the Chicago race riot of 1919Reflecting social tensions after World War I, as veterans struggled to return to the workforce and labor unions were organizing, the Red Summer of 1919 was marked by hundreds of deaths and higher casualties across the U.S. as a result of white race riots against blacks that took place in more than three dozen cities, such as the Chicago race riot of 1919 and the Omaha race riot of 1919. Urban problems such as crime and disease were blamed on the large influx of Southern blacks to cities in the north and west, based on stereotypes of rural southern African-Americans. Overall, blacks in Northern and Western cities experienced systemic discrimination in a plethora of aspects of life. Within employment, economic opportunities for blacks were routed to the lowest status and restrictive in potential mobility. Within the housing market, stronger discriminatory measures were used in correlation to the influx, resulting in a mix of "targeted violence, restrictive covenants, redlining and racial steering". The Great Migration resulted in many African Americans becoming urbanized, and they began to realign from the Republican to the Democratic Party, especially because of opportunities under the New Deal of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Substantially under pressure from African-American supporters who began the March on Washington Movement, President Roosevelt issued the first federal order banning discrimination and created the Fair Employment Practice Committee. After both World Wars, black veterans of the military pressed for full civil rights and often led activist movements. In 1948, President Harry Truman issued Executive Order 9981, which ended segregation in the military.White tenants seeking to prevent blacks from moving into the housing project erected this sign, Detroit, 1942.Housing segregation became a nationwide problem following the Great Migration of black people out of the South. Racial covenants were employed by many real estate developers to "protect" entire subdivisions, with the primary intent to keep "white" neighborhoods "white". Ninety percent of the housing projects built in the years following World War II were racially restricted by such covenants. Cities known for their widespread use of racial covenants include Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, Los Angeles, Seattle, and St. Louis.
Said premises shall not be rented, leased, or conveyed to, or occupied by, any person other than of the white or Caucasian race.
— Racial covenant for a home in Beverly Hills, California.While many whites defended their space with violence, intimidation, or legal tactics toward black people, many other whites migrated to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions, a process known as white flight. From the 1930s to the 1960s, the National Association of Real Estate Boards (NAREB) issued guidelines that specified that a realtor "should never be instrumental in introducing to a neighborhood a character or property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality, or any individual whose presence will be clearly detrimental to property values in a neighborhood." The result was the development of all-black ghettos in the North and West, where much housing was older, as well as South.
The first anti-miscegenation law was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 1691, criminalizing interracial marriage. In a speech in Charleston, Illinois in 1858, Abraham Lincoln stated, "I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people". By the late 1800s, 38 US states had anti-miscegenation statutes. By 1924, the ban on interracial marriage was still in force in 29 states. While interracial marriage had been legal in California since 1948, in 1957 actor Sammy Davis Jr. faced a backlash for his involvement with white actress Kim Novak. Davis briefly married a black dancer in 1958 to protect himself from mob violence. In 1958, officers in Virginia entered the home of Mildred and Richard Loving and dragged them out of bed for living together as an interracial couple, on the basis that "any white person intermarry with a colored person"— or vice versa—each party "shall be guilty of a felony" and face prison terms of five years.
Invigorated by the victory of Brown and frustrated by the lack of immediate practical effect, private citizens increasingly rejected gradualist, legalistic approaches as the primary tool to bring about desegregation. They were faced with "massive resistance" in the South by proponents of racial segregation and voter suppression. In defiance, African-American activists adopted a combined strategy of direct action, nonviolence, nonviolent resistance, and many events described as civil disobedience, giving rise to the civil rights movement of 1954 to 1968.
A. Philip Randolph had planned a march on Washington, D.C., in 1941 to support demands for elimination of employment discrimination in the defense industry; he called off the march when the Roosevelt administration met the demand by issuing Executive Order 8802, which barred racial discrimination and created an agency to oversee compliance with the order.
Protests beginThe strategy of public education, legislative lobbying, and litigation that had typified the civil rights movement during the first half of the 20th century broadened after Brown to a strategy that emphasized "direct action": boycotts, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, marches or walks, and similar tactics that relied on mass mobilization, nonviolent resistance, standing in line, and, at times, civil disobedience.
Churches, local grassroots organizations, fraternal societies, and black-owned businesses mobilized volunteers to participate in broad-based actions. This was a more direct and potentially more rapid means of creating change than the traditional approach of mounting court challenges used by the NAACP and others.
In 1952, the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL), led by T. R. M. Howard, a black surgeon, entrepreneur, and planter organized a successful boycott of gas stations in Mississippi that refused to provide restrooms for blacks. Through the RCNL, Howard led campaigns to expose brutality by the Mississippi state highway patrol and to encourage blacks to make deposits in the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Nashville which, in turn, gave loans to civil rights activists who were victims of a "credit squeeze" by the White Citizens' Councils.
After Claudette Colvin was arrested for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in March 1955, a bus boycott was considered and rejected. But when Rosa Parks was arrested in December, Jo Ann Gibson Robinson of the Montgomery Women's Political Council put the bus boycott protest in motion. Late that night, she, John Cannon (chairman of the Business Department at Alabama State University) and others mimeographed and distributed thousands of leaflets calling for a boycott. The eventual success of the boycott made its spokesman Martin Luther King Jr., a nationally known figure. It also inspired other bus boycotts, such as the successful Tallahassee, Florida boycott of 1956–57. This movement also sparked the 1956 Sugar Bowl riots in Atlanta which later became a major organizing center of the civil rights movement, with Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1957, King and Ralph Abernathy, the leaders of the Montgomery Improvement Association, joined with other church leaders who had led similar boycott efforts, such as C. K. Steele of Tallahassee and T. J. Jemison of Baton Rouge, and other activists such as Fred Shuttlesworth, Ella Baker, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Stanley Levison, to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The SCLC, with its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, did not attempt to create a network of chapters as the NAACP did. It offered training and leadership assistance for local efforts to fight segregation. The headquarters organization raised funds, mostly from Northern sources, to support such campaigns. It made nonviolence both its central tenet and its primary method of confronting racism.
In 1959, Septima Clarke, Bernice Robinson, and Esau Jenkins, with the help of Myles Horton's Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, began the first Citizenship Schools in South Carolina's Sea Islands. They taught literacy to enable blacks to pass voting tests. The program was an enormous success and tripled the number of black voters on Johns Island. SCLC took over the program and duplicated its results elsewhere.
HistoryMain article: History of civil rights in the United StatesFor a chronological guide, see Timeline of the civil rights movement.Further information: Civil rights movement (1865–1896) and Civil rights movement (1896–1954)Brown v. Board of Education, 1954Main article: Brown v. Board of EducationIn the spring of 1951, black students in Virginia protested their unequal status in the state's segregated educational system. Students at Moton High School protested the overcrowded conditions and failing facility. Some local leaders of the NAACP had tried to persuade the students to back down from their protest against the Jim Crow laws of school segregation. When the students did not budge, the NAACP joined their battle against school segregation. The NAACP proceeded with five cases challenging the school systems; these were later combined under what is known today as Brown v. Board of Education. Under the leadership of Walter Reuther, the United Auto Workers donated $75,000 to help pay for the NAACP's efforts at the Supreme Court.In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.On May 17, 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that mandating, or even permitting, public schools to be segregated by race was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Warren wrote in the court majority opinion that
Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law; for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group.
The lawyers from the NAACP had to gather plausible evidence in order to win the case of Brown vs. Board of Education. Their method of addressing the issue of school segregation was to enumerate several arguments. One pertained to having exposure to interracial contact in a school Environment. It was argued that interracial contact would, in turn, help prepare children to live with the pressures that society exerts in regards to race and thereby afford them a better chance of living in a democracy. In addition, another argument emphasized how "'education' comprehends the entire process of developing and training the mental, physical and moral powers and capabilities of human beings".
Risa Goluboff wrote that the NAACP's intention was to show the Courts that African American children were the victims of school segregation and their futures were at risk. The Court ruled that both Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which had established the "separate but equal" standard in general, and Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education (1899), which had applied that standard to schools, was unconstitutional.
The federal government filed a friend of the court brief in the case urging the justices to consider the effect that segregation had on America's image in the Cold War. Secretary of State Dean Acheson was quoted in the brief stating that "The United States is under constant attack in the foreign press, over the foreign radio, and in such international bodies as the United Nations because of various practices of discrimination in this country."
The following year, in the case known as Brown II, the Court ordered segregation to be phased out over time, "with all deliberate speed". Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954) did not overturn Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Plessy v. Ferguson was segregation in transportation modes. Brown v. Board of Education dealt with segregation in education. Brown v. Board of Education did set in motion the future overturning of 'separate but equal'.School integration, Barnard School, Washington, D.C., 1955On May 18, 1954, Greensboro, North Carolina, became the first city in the South to publicly announce that it would aoffere by the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling. "It is unthinkable,' remarked School Board Superintendent Benjamin Smith, 'that we will try to [override] the laws of the United States." This positive reception for Brown, together with the appointment of African American David Jones to the school board in 1953, convinced numerous white and black citizens that Greensboro was heading in a progressive direction. Integration in Greensboro occurred rather peacefully compared to the process in Southern states such as Alabama, Arkansas, and Virginia where "massive resistance" was practiced by top officials and throughout the states. In Virginia, some counties closed their public schools rather than integrate, and many white Christian private schools were founded to accommodate students who used to go to public schools. Even in Greensboro, much local resistance to desegregation continued, and in 1969, the federal government found the city was not in compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Transition to a fully integrated school system did not begin until 1971.
Many Northern cities also had de facto segregation policies, which resulted in a vast gulf in educational resources between black and white communities. In Harlem, New York, for example, neither a single new school was built since the turn of the century, nor did a single nursery school exist – even as the Second Great Migration was causing overcrowding. Existing schools tended to be dilapidated and staffed with inexperienced teachers. Brown helped stimulate activism among New York City parents like Mae Mallory who, with the support of the NAACP, initiated a successful lawsuit against the city and state on Brown's principles. Mallory and thousands of other parents bolstered the pressure of the lawsuit with a school boycott in 1959. During the boycott, some of the first freedom schools of the period were established. The city responded to the campaign by permitting more open transfers to high-quality, historically-white schools. (New York's African-American community, and Northern desegregation activists generally, now found themselves contending with the problem of white flight, however.)
Emmett Till's murder, 1955Main article: Emmett Till
Emmett Till's mother Mamie (middle) at her son's funeral in 1955. He was killed by white men after a white woman accused him of offending her in her family's grocery store.Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American from Chicago, visited his relatives in Money, Mississippi, for the summer. He allegedly had an interaction with a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, in a small grocery store that violated the norms of Mississippi culture, and Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam brutally murdered young Emmett Till. They beat and mutilated him before shooting him in the head and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till's body was discovered and retrieved from the river. After Emmett's mother, Mamie Till, came to identify the remains of her son, she decided she wanted to "let the people see what I have seen". Till's mother then had his body taken back to Chicago where she had it displayed in an open casket during the funeral services where many thousands of visitors arrived to show their respects. A later publication of an image at the funeral in Jet is credited as a crucial moment in the civil rights era for displaying in vivid detail the violent racism that was being directed at black people in America. In a column for The Atlantic, Vann R. Newkirk wrote: "The trial of his killers became a pageant illuminating the tyranny of white supremacy". The state of Mississippi tried two defendants, but they were speedily acquitted by an all-white jury.
"Emmett's murder," historian Tim Tyson writes, "would never have become a watershed historical moment without Mamie finding the strength to make her private grief a public matter." The visceral response to his mother's decision to have an open-casket funeral mobilized the black community throughout the U.S. The murder and resulting trial ended up markedly impacting the views of several young black activists. Joyce Ladner referred to such activists as the "Emmett Till generation." One hundred days after Emmett Till's murder, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks later informed Till's mother that her decision to stay in her seat was guided by the image she still vividly recalled of Till's brutalized remains. The glass topped casket that was used for Till's Chicago funeral was found in a cemetery garage in 2009. Till had been reburied in a different casket after being exhumed in 2005. Till's family decided to donate the original casket to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American Culture and History, where it is now on display. In 2007, Bryant said that she had fabricated the most sensational part of her story in 1955.
Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, 1955–1956Main articles: Rosa Parks and Montgomery bus boycott
Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after being arrested for not giving up her seat on a bus to a white person.On December 1, 1955, nine months after a 15-year-old high school student, Claudette Colvin, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested, Rosa Parks did the same thing. Parks soon became the symbol of the resulting Montgomery bus boycott and received national publicity. She was later hailed as the "mother of the civil rights movement".
Parks was secretary of the Montgomery NAACP chapter and had recently returned from a meeting at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee where nonviolence as a strategy was taught by Myles Horton and others. After Parks' arrest, African Americans gathered and organized the Montgomery bus boycott to demand a bus system in which passengers would be treated equally. The organization was led by Jo Ann Robinson, a member of the Women's Political Council who had been waiting for the opportunity to boycott the bus system. Following Rosa Parks' arrest, Jo Ann Robinson mimeographed 52,500 leaflets calling for a boycott. They were distributed around the city and helped gather the attention of civil rights leaders. After the city rejected many of its suggested reforms, the NAACP, led by E. D. Nixon, pushed for full desegregation of public buses. With the support of most of Montgomery's 50,000 African Americans, the boycott lasted for 381 days, until the local ordinance segregating African Americans and whites on public buses was repealed. Ninety percent of African Americans in Montgomery partook in the boycotts, which reduced bus revenue significantly, as they comprised the majority of the riders. This movement also sparked riots leading up to the 1956 Sugar Bowl. In November 1956, the United States Supreme Court upheld a district court ruling in the case of Browder v. Gayle and ordered Montgomery's buses desegregated, ending the boycott.
Local leaders established the Montgomery Improvement Association to focus their efforts. Martin Luther King Jr. was elected President of this organization. The lengthy protest attracted national attention for him and the city. His eloquent appeals to Christian brotherhood and American idealism created a positive impression on people both inside and outside the South.
Little Rock Nine, 1957Main article: Little Rock Nine
White parents rally against integrating Little Rock's schools in August 1959.The Little Rock Nine were a group of nine students who attended segregated black high schools in Little Rock, the capital of the state of Arkansas. They each volunteered when the NAACP and the national civil rights movement obtained federal court orders to integrate the prestigious Little Rock Central High School in September, 1957. The Nine faced intense harassment and threats of violence from white parents and students, as well as organized white supremacy groups. The enraged opposition emphasized miscegenation as the threat to white society. Arkansas Governor, Orval Faubus, claiming his only goal was to preserve the peace, deployed the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the black students from entering the school. Faubus defied federal court orders, whereupon President Dwight D. Eisenhower intervened. He federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent them home. Then he sent in an elite Army unit to escort the students to school and protect them between classes during the 1957–58 school year. In class, however, the Nine were teased and ridiculed every day. In the city compromise efforts all failed and political tensions continued to fester. A year later in September 1958 the Supreme Court ruled that all the city's high schools had to be integrated immediately. Governor Faubus and the legislature responded by immediately shutting down all the public high schools in the city for the entire 1958–1959 school year, despite the harm it did to all the students. The decision to integrate the school was a landmark event in the civil rights movement, and the students' bravery and determination in the face of violent opposition is remembered as a key moment in American history. The city and state were entangled in very expensive legal disputes for decades, while suffering a reputation for hatred and obstruction.
Method of nonviolence and nonviolence trainingDuring the time period considered to be the "African-American civil rights" era, the predominant use of protest was nonviolent, or peaceful. Often referred to as pacifism, the method of nonviolence is considered to be an attempt to impact society positively. Although acts of racial discrimination have occurred historically throughout the United States, perhaps the most violent regions have been in the former Confederate states. During the 1950s and 1960s, the nonviolent protesting of the civil rights movement caused definite tension, which gained national attention.
In order to prepare for protests physically and psychologically, demonstrators received training in nonviolence. According to former civil rights activist Bruce Hartford, there are two main branches of nonviolence training. There is the philosophical method, which involves understanding the method of nonviolence and why it is considered useful, and there is the tactical method, which ultimately teaches demonstrators "how to be a protestor—how to sit-in, how to picket, how to defend yourself against attack, giving training on how to remain cool when people are screaming racist insults into your face and pouring stuff on you and hitting you" (Civil Rights Movement Archive). The philosophical method of nonviolence, in the American civil rights movement, was largely inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's "non-cooperation" policies during his involvement in the Indian independence movement which were intended to gain attention so that the public would either "intervene in advance," or "provide public pressure in support of the action to be taken" (Erikson, 415). As Hartford explains it, philosophical nonviolence training aims to "shape the individual person's attitude and mental response to crises and violence" (Civil Rights Movement Archive). Hartford and activists like him, who trained in tactical nonviolence, considered it necessary in order to ensure physical safety, instill discipline, teach demonstrators how to demonstrate, and form mutual confidence among demonstrators (Civil Rights Movement Archive).
For many, the concept of nonviolent protest was a way of life, a culture. However, not everyone agreed with this notion. James Forman, former SNCC (and later Black Panther) member, and nonviolence trainer was among those who did not. In his autobiography, The Making of Black Revolutionaries, Forman revealed his perspective on the method of nonviolence as "strictly a tactic, not a way of life without limitations." Similarly, Bob Moses, who was also an active member of SNCC, felt that the method of nonviolence was practical. When interviewed by author Robert Penn Warren, Moses said "There's no question that he (Martin Luther King Jr.) had a great deal of influence with the masses. But I don't think it's in the direction of love. It's in a practical direction . . ." (Who Speaks for the Negro? Warren).
According to a 2020 study in the American Political Science Review, nonviolent civil rights protests boosted vote shares for the Democratic party in presidential elections in nearby counties, but violent protests substantially boosted white support for Republicans in counties near to the violent protests.
Sit-ins, 1958–1960See also: Greensboro sit-ins, Nashville sit-ins, and Sit-in movementIn July 1958, the NAACP Youth Council sponsored sit-ins at the lunch counter of a Dockum Drug Store in downtown Wichita, Kansas. After three weeks, the movement successfully got the store to change its policy of segregated seating, and soon afterward all Dockum stores in Kansas were desegregated. This movement was quickly followed in the same year by a student sit-in at a Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City led by Clara Luper, which also was successful.Student sit-in at Woolworth in Durham, North Carolina on February 10, 1960.Mostly black students from area colleges led a sit-in at a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina. On February 1, 1960, four students, Ezell A. Blair Jr., David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College, an all-black college, sat down at the segregated lunch counter to protest Woolworth's policy of excluding African Americans from being served food there. The four students purchased small items in other parts of the store and kept their receipts, then sat down at the lunch counter and asked to be served. After being denied service, they produced their receipts and asked why their money was good everywhere else at the store, but not at the lunch counter.
The protesters had been encouraged to dress professionally, to sit quietly, and to occupy every other stool so that potential white sympathizers could join in. The Greensboro sit-in was quickly followed by other sit-ins in Richmond, Virginia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta, Georgia. The most immediately effective of these was in Nashville, where hundreds of well organized and highly disciplined college students conducted sit-ins in coordination with a boycott campaign. As students across the south began to "sit-in" at the lunch counters of local stores, police and other officials sometimes used brutal force to physically escort the demonstrators from the lunch facilities.
The "sit-in" technique was not new—as far back as 1939, African-American attorney Samuel Wilbert Tucker organized a sit-in at the then-segregated Alexandria, Virginia, library. In 1960 the technique succeeded in bringing national attention to the movement. On March 9, 1960, an Atlanta University Center group of students released An Appeal for Human Rights as a full page advertisement in newspapers, including the Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta Journal, and Atlanta Daily World. Known as the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COAHR), the group initiated the Atlanta Student Movement and began to lead sit-ins starting on March 15, 1960. By the end of 1960, the process of sit-ins had spread to every southern and border state, and even to facilities in Nevada, Illinois, and Ohio that discriminated against blacks.
Demonstrators focused not only on lunch counters but also on parks, beaches, libraries, theaters, museums, and other public facilities. In April 1960 activists who had led these sit-ins were invited by SCLC activist Ella Baker to hold a conference at Shaw University, a historically black university in Raleigh, North Carolina. This conference led to the formation of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). SNCC took these tactics of nonviolent confrontation further, and organized the freedom rides. As the constitution protected interstate commerce, they decided to challenge segregation on interstate buses and in public bus facilities by putting interracial teams on them, to travel from the North through the segregated South.
Freedom Rides, 1961Main article: Freedom RiderFreedom Rides were journeys by civil rights activists on interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregation was unconstitutional for passengers engaged in interstate travel. Organized by CORE, the first Freedom Ride of the 1960s left Washington D.C. on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.
During the first and subsequent Freedom Rides, activists traveled through the Deep South to integrate seating patterns on buses and desegregate bus terminals, including restrooms and water fountains. That proved to be a dangerous mission. In Anniston, Alabama, one bus was firebombed, forcing its passengers to flee for their lives.A mob beats Freedom Riders in Birmingham. This picture was reclaimed by the FBI from a local journalist who also was beaten and whose camera was smashed.In Birmingham, Alabama, an FBI informant reported that Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor gave Ku Klux Klan members fifteen minutes to attack an incoming group of freedom riders before having police "protect" them. The riders were severely beaten "until it looked like a bulldog had got a hold of them." James Peck, a white activist, was beaten so badly that he required fifty stitches to his head.
In a similar occurrence in Montgomery, Alabama, the Freedom Riders followed in the footsteps of Rosa Parks and rode an integrated Greyhound bus from Birmingham. Although they were protesting interstate bus segregation in peace, they were met with violence in Montgomery as a large, white mob attacked them for their activism. They caused an enormous, 2-hour long riot which resulted in 22 injuries, five of whom were hospitalized.
Mob violence in Anniston and Birmingham temporarily halted the rides. SNCC activists from Nashville brought in new riders to continue the journey from Birmingham to New Orleans. In Montgomery, Alabama, at the Greyhound Bus Station, a mob charged another busload of riders, knocking John Lewis unconscious with a crate and smashing Life photographer Don Urbrock in the face with his own camera. A dozen men surrounded James Zwerg, a white student from Fisk University, and beat him in the face with a suitcase, knocking out his teeth.
On May 24, 1961, the freedom riders continued their rides into Jackson, Mississippi, where they were arrested for "breaching the peace" by using "white only" facilities. New Freedom Rides were organized by many different organizations and continued to flow into the South. As riders arrived in Jackson, they were arrested. By the end of summer, more than 300 had been jailed in Mississippi.
.. When the weary Riders arrive in Jackson and attempt to use "white only" restrooms and lunch counters they are immediately arrested for Breach of Peace and Refusal to Obey an Officer. Says Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett in defense of segregation: "The Negro is different because God made him different to punish him." From lockup, the Riders announce "Jail No Bail"—they will not pay fines for unconstitutional arrests and illegal convictions—and by staying in jail they keep the issue alive. Each prisoner will remain in jail for 39 days, the maximum time they can serve without loosing [sic] their right to appeal the unconstitutionality of their arrests, trials, and convictions. After 39 days, they file an appeal and post bond...
The jailed freedom riders were treated harshly, crammed into tiny, filthy cells and sporadically beaten. In Jackson, some male prisoners were forced to do hard labor in 100 °F (38 °C) heat. Others were transferred to the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, where they were treated to harsh conditions. Sometimes the men were suspended by "wrist breakers" from the walls. Typically, the windows of their cells were shut tight on hot days, making it hard for them to breathe.
Public sympathy and support for the freedom riders led John F. Kennedy's administration to order the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) to issue a new desegregation order. When the new ICC rule took effect on November 1, 1961, passengers were permitted to sit wherever they chose on the bus; "white" and "colored" signs came down in the terminals; separate drinking fountains, toilets, and waiting rooms were consolidated; and lunch counters began serving people regardless of skin color.
The student movement involved such celebrated figures as John Lewis, a single-minded activist; James Lawson, the revered "guru" of nonviolent theory and tactics; Diane Nash, an articulate and intrepid public champion of justice; Bob Moses, pioneer of voting registration in Mississippi; and James Bevel, a fiery preacher and charismatic organizer, strategist, and facilitator. Other prominent student activists included Dion Diamond, Charles McDew, Bernard Lafayette, Charles Jones, Lonnie King, Julian Bond, Hosea Williams, and Stokely Carmichael.
Voter registration organizingAfter the Freedom Rides, local black leaders in Mississippi such as Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry, Medgar Evers, and others asked SNCC to help register black voters and to build community organizations that could win a share of political power in the state. Since Mississippi ratified its new constitution in 1890 with provisions such as poll taxes, residency requirements, and literacy tests, it made registration more complicated and stripped blacks from voter rolls and voting. Also, violence at the time of elections had earlier suppressed black voting.
By the mid-20th century, preventing blacks from voting had become an essential part of the culture of white supremacy. In June and July 1959, members of the black community in Fayette County, TN formed the Fayette County Civic and Welfare League to spur voting. At the time, there were 16,927 blacks in the county, yet only 17 of them had voted in the previous seven years. Within a year, some 1,400 blacks had registered, and the white community responded with harsh economic reprisals. Using registration rolls, the White Citizens Council circulated a blacklist of all registered black voters, allowing banks, local stores, and gas stations to conspire to deny registered black voters essential services. What's more, sharecropping blacks who registered to vote were getting evicted from their homes. All in all, the number of evictions came to 257 families, many of whom were forced to live in a makeshift Tent City for well over a year. Finally, in December 1960, the Justice Department invoked its powers authorized by the Civil Rights Act of 1957 to file a suit against seventy parties accused of violating the civil rights of black Fayette County citizens. In the following year the first voter registration project in McComb and the surrounding counties in the Southwest corner of the state. Their efforts were met with violent repression from state and local lawmen, the White Citizens' Council, and the Ku Klux Klan. Activists were beaten, there were hundreds of arrests of local citizens, and the voting activist Herbert Lee was murdered.
White opposition to black voter registration was so intense in Mississippi that Freedom Movement activists concluded that all of the state's civil rights organizations had to unite in a coordinated effort to have any chance of success. In February 1962, representatives of SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP formed the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO). At a subsequent meeting in August, SCLC became part of COFO.
In the Spring of 1962, with funds from the Voter Education Project, SNCC/COFO began voter registration organizing in the Mississippi Delta area around Greenwood, and the areas surrounding Hattiesburg, Laurel, and Holly Springs. As in McComb, their efforts were met with fierce opposition—arrests, beatings, shootings, arson, and murder. Registrars used the literacy test to keep blacks off the voting roles by creating standards that even highly educated people could not meet. In addition, employers fired blacks who tried to register, and landlords evicted them from their rental homes. Despite these actions, over the following years, the black voter registration campaign spread across the state.
Similar voter registration campaigns—with similar responses—were begun by SNCC, CORE, and SCLC in Louisiana, Alabama, southwest Georgia, and South Carolina. By 1963, voter registration campaigns in the South were as integral to the Freedom Movement as desegregation efforts. After the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protecting and facilitating voter registration despite state barriers became the main effort of the movement. It resulted in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had provisions to enforce the constitutional right to vote for all citizens.
Integration of Mississippi universities, 1956–1965Further information: Ole Miss riot of 1962Beginning in 1956, Clyde Kennard, a black Korean War-veteran, wanted to enroll at Mississippi Southern College (now the University of Southern Mississippi) at Hattiesburg under the G.I. Bill. William David McCain, the college president, used the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, in order to prevent his enrollment by appealing to local black leaders and the segregationist state political establishment.
The state-funded organization tried to counter the civil rights movement by positively portraying segregationist policies. More significantly, it collected data on activists, harassed them legally, and used economic boycotts against them by threatening their jobs (or causing them to lose their jobs) to try to suppress their work.
Kennard was twice arrested on trumped-up charges, and eventually convicted and sentenced to seven years in the state prison. After three years at hard labor, Kennard was paroled by Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett. Journalists had investigated his case and publicized the state's mistreatment of his colon cancer.
McCain's role in Kennard's arrests and convictions is unknown. While trying to prevent Kennard's enrollment, McCain made a speech in Chicago, with his travel sponsored by the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. He described the blacks' seeking to desegregate Southern schools as "imports" from the North. (Kennard was a native and resident of Hattiesburg.) McCain said:
We insist that educationally and socially, we maintain a segregated society...In all fairness, I admit that we are not encouraging Negro voting...The Negroes prefer that control of the government remain in the white man's hands.
Note: Mississippi had passed a new constitution in 1890 that effectively disfranchised most blacks by changing electoral and voter registration requirements; although it deprived them of constitutional rights authorized under post-Civil War amendments, it survived U.S. Supreme Court challenges at the time. It was not until after the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that most blacks in Mississippi and other southern states gained federal protection to enforce the constitutional right of citizens to vote.James Meredith walking to class accompanied by a U.S. Marshal and a Justice Department official.In September 1962, James Meredith won a lawsuit to secure admission to the previously segregated University of Mississippi. He attempted to enter campus on September 20, on September 25, and again on September 26. He was blocked by Governor Ross Barnett, who said, "[N]o school will be integrated in Mississippi while I am your Governor." The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held Barnett and Lieutenant Governor Paul B. Johnson Jr. in contempt, ordering them arrested and fined more than $10,000 for each day they refused to allow Meredith to enroll.U.S. Army trucks loaded with Federal law enforcement personnel on the University of Mississippi campus, 1962.Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy sent in a force of U.S. Marshals and deputized U.S. Border Patrol agents and Federal Bureau of Prisons officers. On September 30, 1962, Meredith entered the campus under their escort. Students and other whites began rioting that evening, throwing rocks and firing on the federal agents guarding Meredith at Lyceum Hall. Rioters ended up killing two civilians, including a French journalist; 28 federal agents suffered gunshot wounds, and 160 others were injured. President John F. Kennedy sent U.S. Army and federalized Mississippi National Guard forces to the campus to quell the riot. Meredith began classes the day after the troops arrived.
Kennard and other activists continued to work on public university desegregation. In 1965 Raylawni Branch and Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong became the first African-American students to attend the University of Southern Mississippi. By that time, McCain helped ensure they had a peaceful entry. In 2006, Judge Robert Helfrich ruled that Kennard was factually innocent of all charges for which he had been convicted in the 1950s.
Albany Movement, 1961–1962Main article: Albany MovementThe SCLC, which had been criticized by some student activists for its failure to participate more fully in the freedom rides, committed much of its prestige and resources to a desegregation campaign in Albany, Georgia, in November 1961. King, who had been criticized personally by some SNCC activists for his distance from the dangers that local organizers faced—and given the derisive nickname "De Lawd" as a result—intervened personally to assist the campaign led by both SNCC organizers and local leaders.
The campaign was a failure because of the canny tactics of Laurie Pritchett, the local police chief, and divisions within the black community. The goals may not have been specific enough. Pritchett contained the marchers without violent attacks on demonstrators that inflamed national opinion. He also arranged for arrested demonstrators to be taken to jails in surrounding communities, allowing plenty of room to remain in his jail. Pritchett also foresaw King's presence as a danger and forced his release to avoid King's rallying the black community. King left in 1962 without having achieved any dramatic victories. The local movement, however, continued the struggle, and it obtained significant gains in the next few years.
Birmingham campaign, 1963Main article: Birmingham campaignThe Albany movement was shown to be an important education for the SCLC, however, when it undertook the Birmingham campaign in 1963. Executive Director Wyatt Tee Walker carefully planned the early strategy and tactics for the campaign. It focused on one goal—the desegregation of Birmingham's downtown merchants, rather than total desegregation, as in Albany.
The movement's efforts were helped by the brutal response of local authorities, in particular Eugene "Bull" Connor, the Commissioner of Public Safety. He had long held much political power but had lost a recent election for mayor to a less raofferly segregationist candidate. Refusing to accept the new mayor's authority, Connor intended to stay in office.
The campaign used a variety of nonviolent methods of confrontation, including sit-ins, kneel-ins at local churches, and a march to the county building to mark the beginning of a drive to register voters. The city, however, obtained an injunction barring all such protests. Convinced that the order was unconstitutional, the campaign defied it and prepared for mass arrests of its supporters. King elected to be among those arrested on April 12, 1963.Recreation of Martin Luther King Jr.'s cell in Birmingham Jail at the National Civil Rights MuseumWhile in jail, King wrote his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" on the margins of a newspaper, since he had not been allowed any writing paper while held in solitary confinement. Supporters appealed to the Kennedy administration, which intervened to obtain King's release. Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, arranged for $160,000 to bail out King and his fellow protestors. King was allowed to call his wife, who was recuperating at home after the birth of their fourth child and was released early on April 19.
The campaign, however, faltered as it ran out of demonstrators willing to risk arrest. James Bevel, SCLC's Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education, then came up with a bold and controversial alternative: to train high school students to take part in the demonstrations. As a result, in what would be called the Children's Crusade, more than one thousand students skipped school on May 2 to meet at the 16th Street Baptist Church to join the demonstrations. More than six hundred marched out of the church fifty at a time in an attempt to walk to City Hall to speak to Birmingham's mayor about segregation. They were arrested and put into jail. In this first encounter, the police acted with restraint. On the next day, however, another one thousand students gathered at the church. When Bevel started them marching fifty at a time, Bull Connor finally unleashed police dogs on them and then turned the city's fire hoses water streams on the children. National television networks broadcast the scenes of the dogs attacking demonstrators and the water from the fire hoses knocking down the schoolchildren.
Widespread public outrage led the Kennedy administration to intervene more forcefully in negotiations between the white business community and the SCLC. On May 10, the parties announced an agreement to desegregate the lunch counters and other public accommodations downtown, to create a committee to eliminate discriminatory hiring practices, to arrange for the release of jailed protesters, and to establish regular means of communication between black and white leaders.
A black and white photograph of a building in ruins next to an intact wallWreckage at the Gaston Motel following the bomb explosion on May 11, 1963Not everyone in the black community approved of the agreement—Fred Shuttlesworth was particularly critical, since he was skeptical about the good faith of Birmingham's power structure from his experience in dealing with them. Parts of the white community reacted violently. They bombed the Gaston Motel, which housed the SCLC's unofficial headquarters, and the home of King's brother, the Reverend A. D. King. In response, thousands of blacks rioted, burning numerous buildings and one of them stabbed and wounded a police officer.Alabama governor George Wallace tried to block desegregation at the University of Alabama and is confronted by U.S. Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach in 1963.Kennedy prepared to federalize the Alabama National Guard if the need arose. Four months later, on September 15, a conspiracy of Ku Klux Klan members bombed the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four young girls.
"Rising tide of discontent" and Kennedy's response, 1963Main articles: Gloria Richardson, Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, and Civil Rights AddressBirmingham was only one of over a hundred cities rocked by the chaotic protest that spring and summer, some of them in the North but mainly in the South. During the March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. would refer to such protests as "the whirlwinds of revolt." In Chicago, blacks rioted through the South Side in late May after a white police officer shot a fourteen-year-old black boy who was fleeing the scene of a robbery. Violent clashes between black activists and white workers took place in both Philadelphia and Harlem in successful efforts to integrate state construction projects. On June 6, over a thousand whites attacked a sit-in in Lexington, North Carolina; blacks fought back and one white man was killed. Edwin C. Berry of the National Urban League warned of a complete breakdown in race relations: "My message from the beer gardens and the barbershops all indicate the fact that the Negro is ready for war."
In Cambridge, Maryland, a working‐class city on the Eastern Shore, Gloria Richardson of SNCC led a movement that pressed for desegregation but also demanded low‐rent public housing, job‐training, public and private jobs, and an end to police brutality. On June 11, struggles between blacks and whites escalated into violent rioting, leading Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes to declare martial law. When negotiations between Richardson and Maryland officials faltered, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy directly intervened to negotiate a desegregation agreement. Richardson felt that the increasing participation of poor and working-class blacks was expanding both the power and parameters of the movement, asserting that "the people as a whole really do have more intelligence than a few of their leaders.ʺ
In their deliberations during this wave of protests, the Kennedy administration privately felt that militant demonstrations were ʺbad for the countryʺ and that "Negroes are going to push this thing too far." On May 24, Robert Kennedy had a meeting with prominent black intellectuals to discuss the racial situation. The black delegation criticized Kennedy harshly for vacillating on civil rights and said that the African-American community's thoughts were increasingly turning to violence. The meeting ended with ill will on all sides. Nonetheless, the Kennedys ultimately decided that new legislation for equal public accommodations was essential to drive activists "into the courts and out of the streets."The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the National Mall
Leaders of the March on Washington posing before the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963On June 11, 1963, George Wallace, Governor of Alabama, tried to block the integration of the University of Alabama. President John F. Kennedy sent a military force to make Governor Wallace step aside, allowing the enrollment of Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood. That evening, President Kennedy addressed the nation on TV and radio with his historic civil rights speech, where he lamented "a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety." He called on Congress to pass new civil rights legislation, and urged the country to embrace civil rights as "a moral issue...in our daily lives." In the early hours of June 12, Medgar Evers, field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP, was assassinated by a member of the Klan. The next week, as promised, on June 19, 1963, President Kennedy submitted his Civil Rights bill to Congress.
March on Washington, 1963Main article: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
Bayard Rustin (left) and Cleveland Robinson (right), organizers of the March, on August 7, 1963Randolph and Bayard Rustin were the chief planners of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which they proposed in 1962. In 1963, the Kennedy administration initially opposed the march out of concern it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation. However, Randolph and King were firm that the march would proceed. With the march going forward, the Kennedys decided it was important to work to ensure its success. Concerned about the turnout, President Kennedy enlisted the aid of white church leaders and Walter Reuther, president of the UAW, to help mobilize white supporters for the march.
The march was held on August 28, 1963. Unlike the planned 1941 march, for which Randolph included only black-led organizations in the planning, the 1963 march was a collaborative effort of all of the major civil rights organizations, the more progressive wing of the labor movement, and other liberal organizations. The march had six official goals:
meaningful civil rights lawsa massive federal works programfull and fair employmentdecent housingthe right to voteadequate integrated education.Of these, the march's major focus was on passage of the civil rights law that the Kennedy administration had proposed after the upheavals in Birmingham.Martin Luther King Jr. at a civil rights march on Washington, D.C.National media attention also greatly contributed to the march's national exposure and probable impact. In the essay "The March on Washington and Television News," historian William Thomas notes: "Over five hundred cameramen, technicians, and correspondents from the major networks were set to cover the event. More cameras would be set up than had filmed the last presidential inauguration. One camera was positioned high in the Washington Monument, to give dramatic vistas of the marchers". By carrying the organizers' speeches and offering their own commentary, television stations framed the way their local audiences saw and understood the event.
"I Have a Dream"0:3030-second sample from "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963Problems playing this file? See media help.The march was a success, although not without controversy. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. While many speakers applauded the Kennedy administration for the efforts it had made toward obtaining new, more effective civil rights legislation protecting the right to vote and outlawing segregation, John Lewis of SNCC took the administration to task for not doing more to protect southern blacks and civil rights workers under attack in the Deep South.
After the march, King and other civil rights leaders met with President Kennedy at the White House. While the Kennedy administration appeared sincerely committed to passing the bill, it was not clear that it had enough votes in Congress to do so. However, when President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, the new President Lyndon Johnson decided to use his influence in Congress to bring about much of Kennedy's legislative agenda.
Malcolm X joins the movement, 1964–1965Main articles: Malcolm X, Black Nationalism, and The Ballot or the BulletIn March 1964, Malcolm X (el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz), national representative of the Nation of Islam, formally broke with that organization, and made a public offer to collaborate with any civil rights organization that accepted the right to self-defense and the philosophy of Black nationalism (which Malcolm said no longer required Black separatism). Gloria Richardson, head of the Cambridge, Maryland, chapter of SNCC, and leader of the Cambridge rebellion, an honored guest at The March on Washington, immediately embraced Malcolm's offer. Mrs. Richardson, "the nation's most prominent woman [civil rights] leader," told The Baltimore Afro-American that "Malcolm is being very practical...The federal government has moved into conflict situations only when matters approach the level of insurrection. Self-defense may force Washington to intervene sooner." Earlier, in May 1963, writer and activist James Baldwin had stated publicly that "the Black Muslim movement is the only one in the country we can call grassroots, I hate to say it...Malcolm articulates for Negroes, their suffering...he corroborates their reality..." On the local level, Malcolm and the NOI had been allied with the Harlem chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) since at least 1962.
Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. speak to each other thoughtfully as others look on.Malcolm X meets with Martin Luther King Jr., March 26, 1964On March 26, 1964, as the Civil Rights Act was facing stiff opposition in Congress, Malcolm had a public meeting with Martin Luther King Jr. at the Capitol. Malcolm had tried to begin a dialog with King as early as 1957, but King had rebuffed him. Malcolm had responded by calling King an "Uncle Tom", saying he had turned his back on black militancy in order to appease the white power structure. But the two men were on good terms at their face-to-face meeting. There is evidence that King was preparing to support Malcolm's plan to formally bring the U.S. government before the United Nations on charges of human rights violations against African Americans. Malcolm now encouraged Black nationalists to get involved in voter registration drives and other forms of community organizing to redefine and expand the movement.
Civil rights activists became increasingly combative in the 1963 to 1964 period, seeking to defy such events as the thwarting of the Albany campaign, police repression and Ku Klux Klan terrorism in Birmingham, and the assassination of Medgar Evers. The latter's brother Charles Evers, who took over as Mississippi NAACP Field Director, told a public NAACP conference on February 15, 1964, that "non-violence won't work in Mississippi...we made up our minds...that if a white man shoots at a Negro in Mississippi, we will shoot back." The repression of sit-ins in Jacksonville, Florida, provoked a riot in which black youth threw Molotov cocktails at police on March 24, 1964. Malcolm X gave numerous speeches in this period warning that such militant activity would escalate further if African Americans' rights were not fully recognized. In his landmark April 1964 speech "The Ballot or the Bullet", Malcolm presented an ultimatum to white America: "There's new strategy coming in. It'll be Molotov cocktails this month, hand grenades next month, and something else next month. It'll be ballots, or it'll be bullets."
As noted in the PBS documentary Eyes on the Prize, "Malcolm X had a far-reaching effect on the civil rights movement. In the South, there had been a long tradition of self-reliance. Malcolm X's ideas now touched that tradition". Self-reliance was becoming paramount in light of the 1964 Democratic National Convention's decision to refuse seating to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) and instead to seat the regular state delegation, which had been elected in violation of the party's own rules, and by Jim Crow law instead. SNCC moved in an increasingly militant direction and worked with Malcolm X on two Harlem MFDP fundraisers in December 1964.
When Fannie Lou Hamer spoke to Harlemites about the Jim Crow violence that she'd suffered in Mississippi, she linked it directly to the Northern police brutality against blacks that Malcolm protested against; When Malcolm asserted that African Americans should emulate the Mau Mau army of Kenya in efforts to gain their independence, many in SNCC applauded.
During the Selma campaign for voting rights in 1965, Malcolm made it known that he'd heard reports of increased threats of lynching around Selma. In late January he sent an open telegram to George Lincoln Rockwell, the head of the American Nazi Party, stating:
"if your present racist agitation against our people there in Alabama causes physical harm to Reverend King or any other black Americans...you and your KKK friends will be met with maximum physical retaliation from those of us who are not handcuffed by the disarming philosophy of nonviolence."
The following month, the Selma chapter of SNCC invited Malcolm to speak to a mass meeting there. On the day of Malcolm's appearance, President Johnson made his first public statement in support of the Selma campaign. Paul Ryan Haygood, a co-director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, credits Malcolm with a role in gaining support by the federal government. Haygood noted that "shortly after Malcolm's visit to Selma, a federal judge, responding to a suit brought by the Department of Justice, required Dallas County, Alabama, registrars to process at least 100 Black applications each day their offices were open."
St. Augustine, Florida, 1963–1964Main article: St. Augustine movementFurther information: 1964 Monson Motor Lodge protest
"We Cater to White Trade Only" sign on a restaurant window in Lancaster, Ohio, in 1938. In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and spent a night in jail for attempting to eat at a white-only restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida.St. Augustine was famous as the "Nation's Oldest City", founded by the Spanish in 1565. It became the stage for a great drama leading up to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. A local movement, led by Robert B. Hayling, a black dentist and Air Force veteran affiliated with the NAACP, had been picketing segregated local institutions since 1963. In the fall of 1964, Hayling and three companions were brutally beaten at a Ku Klux Klan rally.
Nightriders shot into black homes, and teenagers Audrey Nell Edwards, JoeAnn Anderson, Samuel White, and Willie Carl Singleton (who came to be known as "The St. Augustine Four") sat in at a local Woolworth's lunch counter, seeking to get served. They were arrested and convicted of trespassing, and sentenced to six months in jail and reform school. It took a special act of the governor and cabinet of Florida to release them after national protests by the Pittsburgh Courier, Jackie Robinson, and others.
Black and white photograph of segregationists fighting on a beachWhite segregationists (foreground) trying to prevent black people from swimming at a "White only" beach in St. Augustine, Florida during the 1964 Monson Motor Lodge protestsIn response to the repression, the St. Augustine movement practiced armed self-defense in addition to nonviolent direct action. In June 1963, Hayling publicly stated that "I and the others have armed. We will shoot first and answer questions later. We are not going to die like Medgar Evers." The comment made national headlines. When Klan nightriders terrorized black neighborhoods in St. Augustine, Hayling's NAACP members often drove them off with gunfire. In October 1963, a Klansman was killed.
In 1964, Hayling and other activists urged the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to come to St. Augustine. Four prominent Massachusetts women – Mary Parkman Peabody, Esther Burgess, Hester Campbell (all of whose husbands were Episcopal bishops), and Florence Rowe (whose husband was vice president of an insurance company) – also came to lend their support. The arrest of Peabody, the 72-year-old mother of the governor of Massachusetts, for attempting to eat at the segregated Ponce de Leon Motor Lodge in an integrated group, made front-page news across the country and brought the movement in St. Augustine to the attention of the world.
Widely publicized activities continued in the ensuing months. When King was arrested, he sent a "Letter from the St. Augustine Jail" to a northern supporter, Rabbi Israel S. Dresner. A week later, in the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history took place, while they were conducting a pray-in at the segregated Monson Motel. A well-known photograph taken in St. Augustine shows the manager of the Monson Motel pouring hydrochloric acid in the swimming pool while blacks and whites are swimming in it. As he did so he yelled that he was "cleaning the pool", a presumed reference to it now being, in his eyes, racially contaminated. The photograph was run on the front page of a Washington newspaper the day the Senate was to vote on passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Chester school protests, Spring 1964Main article: Chester school protestsFrom November 1963 through April 1964, the Chester school protests were a series of civil rights protests led by George Raymond of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons (NAACP) and Stanley Branche of the Committee for Freedom Now (CFFN) that made Chester, Pennsylvania one of the key battlegrounds of the civil rights movement. James Farmer, the national director of the Congress of Racial Equality called Chester "the Birmingham of the North".
In 1962, Branche and the CFFN focused on improving conditions at the predominantly black Franklin Elementary school in Chester. Although the school was built to house 500 students, it had become overcrowded with 1,200 students. The school's average class size was 39, twice the number of nearby all-white schools. The school was built in 1910 and had never been updated. Only two bathrooms were available for the entire school. In November 1963, CFFN protesters blocked the entrance to Franklin Elementary school and the Chester Municipal Building resulting in the arrest of 240 protesters. Following public attention to the protests stoked by media coverage of the mass arrests, the mayor and school board negotiated with the CFFN and NAACP. The Chester Board of Education agreed to reduce class sizes at Franklin school, remove unsanitary toilet facilities, relocate classes held in the boiler room and coal bin and repair school grounds.
Emboldened by the success of the Franklin Elementary school demonstrations, the CFFN recruited new members, sponsored voter registration drives and planned a citywide boycott of Chester schools. Branche built close ties with students at nearby Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania Military College and Cheyney State College in order to ensure large turnouts at demonstrations and protests. Branche invited Dick Gregory and Malcolm X to Chester to participate in the "Freedom Now Conference" and other national civil rights leaders such as Gloria Richardson came to Chester in support of the demonstrations.
In 1964, a series of almost nightly protests brought chaos to Chester as protestors argued that the Chester School Board had de facto segregation of schools. The mayor of Chester, James Gorbey, issued "The Police Position to Preserve the Public Peace", a ten-point statement promising an immediate return to law and order. The city deputized firemen and trash collectors to help handle demonstrators. The State of Pennsylvania deployed 50 state troopers to assist the 77-member Chester police force. The demonstrations were marked by violence and charges of police brutality. Over six hundred people were arrested over a two-month period of civil rights rallies, marches, pickets, boycotts and sit-ins. Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton became involved in the negotiations and convinced Branche to obey a court-ordered moratorium on demonstrations. Scranton created the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to conduct hearings on the de facto segregation of public schools. All protests were discontinued while the commission held hearings during the summer of 1964.
In November 1964, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission concluded that the Chester School Board had violated the law and ordered the Chester School District to desegregate the city's six predominantly African-American schools. The city appealed the ruling, which delayed implementation.
Freedom Summer, 1964Main article: Freedom SummerIn the summer of 1964, COFO brought nearly 1,000 activists to Mississippi—most of them white college students from the North and West—to join with local black activists to register voters, teach in "Freedom Schools," and organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).
Many of Mississippi's white residents deeply resented the outsiders and attempts to change their society. State and local governments, police, the White Citizens' Council and the Ku Klux Klan used arrests, beatings, arson, murder, spying, firing, evictions, and other forms of intimidation and harassment to oppose the project and prevent blacks from registering to vote or achieving social equality.Missing persons poster created by the FBI in 1964 shows the photographs of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael SchwernerOn June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers disappeared: James Chaney, a young black Mississippian and plasterer's apprentice; and two Jewish activists, Andrew Goodman, a Queens College anthropology student; and Michael Schwerner, a CORE organizer from Manhattan's Lower East Side. They were found weeks later, murdered by conspirators who turned out to be local members of the Klan, some of the members of the Neshoba County sheriff's department. This outraged the public, leading the U.S. Justice Department along with the FBI (the latter which had previously avoided dealing with the issue of segregation and persecution of blacks) to take action. The outrage over these murders helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
From June to August, Freedom Summer activists worked in 38 local projects scattered across the state, with the largest number concentrated in the Mississippi Delta region. At least 30 Freedom Schools, with close to 3,500 students, were established, and 28 community centers were set up.
Over the course of the Summer Project, some 17,000 Mississippi blacks attempted to become registered voters in defiance of the red tape and forces of white supremacy arrayed against them—only 1,600 (less than 10%) succeeded. But more than 80,000 joined the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), founded as an alternative political organization, showing their desire to vote and participate in politics.
Though Freedom Summer failed to register many voters, it had a significant effect on the course of the civil rights movement. It helped break down the decades of people's isolation and repression that were the foundation of the Jim Crow system. Before Freedom Summer, the national news media had paid little attention to the persecution of black voters in the Deep South and the dangers endured by black civil rights workers. The progression of events throughout the South increased media attention to Mississippi.
The deaths of affluent northern white students and threats to non-Southerners attracted the full attention of the media spotlight to the state. Many black activists became embittered, believing the media valued the lives of whites and blacks differently. Perhaps the most significant effect of Freedom Summer was on the volunteers, almost all of whom—black and white—still consider it to have been one of the defining periods of their lives.
Civil Rights Act of 1964Main article: Civil Rights Act of 1964Although President Kennedy had proposed civil rights legislation and it had support from Northern Congressmen and Senators of both parties, Southern Senators blocked the bill by threatening filibusters. After considerable parliamentary maneuvering and 54 days of filibuster on the floor of the United States Senate, President Johnson got a bill through the Congress.Lyndon B. Johnson signs the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964On July 2, 1964, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations. The bill authorized the Attorney General to file lawsuits to enforce the new law. The law also nullified state and local laws that required such discrimination.
Harlem riot of 1964Main article: Harlem riot of 1964When police shot an unarmed black teenager in Harlem in July 1964, tensions escalated out of control. Residents were frustrated with racial inequalities. Rioting broke out, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, a major black neighborhood in Brooklyn, erupted next. That summer, rioting also broke out in Philadelphia, for similar reasons. The riots were on a much smaller scale than what would occur in 1965 and later.
Washington responded with a pilot program called Project Uplift. Thousands of young people in Harlem were given jobs during the summer of 1965. The project was inspired by a report generated by HARYOU called Youth in the Ghetto. HARYOU was given a major role in organizing the project, together with the National Urban League and nearly 100 smaller community organizations. Permanent jobs at living wages were still out of reach of many young black men.
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, 1964Main article: Mississippi Freedom Democratic PartyBlacks in Mississippi had been disfranchised by statutory and constitutional changes since the late 19th century. In 1963 COFO held a Freedom Ballot in Mississippi to demonstrate the desire of black Mississippians to vote. More than 80,000 people registered and voted in the mock election, which pitted an integrated slate of candidates from the "Freedom Party" against the official state Democratic Party candidates.President Lyndon B. Johnson (center) meets with civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Whitney Young, and James Farmer, January 1964In 1964, organizers launched the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to challenge the all-white official party. When Mississippi voting registrars refused to recognize their candidates, they held their own primary. They selected Fannie Lou Hamer, Annie Devine, and Victoria Gray to run for Congress, and a slate of delegates to represent Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
The presence of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was inconvenient, however, for the convention organizers. They had planned a triumphant celebration of the Johnson administration's achievements in civil rights, rather than a fight over racism within the Democratic Party. All-white delegations from other Southern states threatened to walk out if the official slate from Mississippi was not seated. Johnson was worried about the inroads that Republican Barry Goldwater's campaign was making in what previously had been the white Democratic stronghold of the "Solid South", as well as support that George Wallace had received in the North during the Democratic primaries.
Johnson could not, however, prevent the MFDP from taking its case to the Credentials Committee. There Fannie Lou Hamer testified eloquently about the beatings that she and others endured and the threats they faced for trying to register to vote. Turning to the television cameras, Hamer asked, "Is this America?"
Johnson offered the MFDP a "compromise" under which it would receive two non-voting, at-large seats, while the white delegation sent by the official Democratic Party would retain its seats. The MFDP angrily rejected the "compromise."
The MFDP kept up its agitation at the convention after it was denied official recognition. When all but three of the "regular" Mississippi delegates left because they refused to pledge allegiance to the party, the MFDP delegates borrowed passes from sympathetic delegates and took the seats vacated by the official Mississippi delegates. National party organizers removed them. When they returned the next day, they found convention organizers had removed the empty seats that had been there the day before. They stayed and sang "freedom songs".
The 1964 Democratic Party convention disillusioned many within the MFDP and the civil rights movement, but it did not destroy the MFDP. The MFDP became more radical after Atlantic City. It invited Malcolm X to speak at one of its conventions and opposed the war in Vietnam.
Selma Voting Rights MovementMain articles: Selma to Montgomery marches and Voting Rights ActSNCC had undertaken an ambitious voter registration program in Selma, Alabama, in 1963, but by 1965 little headway had been made in the face of opposition from Selma's sheriff, Jim Clark. After local residents asked the SCLC for assistance, King came to Selma to lead several marches, at which he was arrested along with 250 other demonstrators. The marchers continued to meet violent resistance from the police. Jimmie Lee Jackson, a resident of nearby Marion, was killed by police at a later march on February 17, 1965. Jackson's death prompted James Bevel, director of the Selma Movement, to initiate and organize a plan to march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital.
On March 7, 1965, acting on Bevel's plan, Hosea Williams of the SCLC and John Lewis of SNCC led a march of 600 people to walk the 54 miles (87 km) from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery. Six blocks into the march, at the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the marchers left the city and moved into the county, state troopers, and local county law enforcement, some mounted on horseback, attacked the peaceful demonstrators with billy clubs, tear gas, rubber tubes wrapped in barbed wire, and bullwhips. They drove the marchers back into Selma. Lewis was knocked unconscious and dragged to safety. At least 16 other marchers were hospitalized. Among those gassed and beaten was Amelia Boynton Robinson, who was at the center of civil rights activity at the time.Police attack non-violent marchers on "bloody Sunday", the first day of the Selma to Montgomery marches.The national broadcast of the news footage of lawmen attacking unresisting marchers seeking to exercise their constitutional right to vote provoked a national response and hundreds of people from all over the country came for a second march. These marchers were turned around by King at the last minute so as not to violate a federal injunction. This displeased many demonstrators, especially those who resented King's nonviolence (such as James Forman and Robert F. Williams).
That night, local Whites attacked James Reeb, a voting rights supporter. He died of his injuries in a Birmingham hospital on March 11. Due to the national outcry at a White minister being murdered so brazenly (as well as the subsequent civil disobedience led by Gorman and other SNCC leaders all over the country, especially in Montgomery and at the White House), the marchers were able to lift the injunction and obtain protection from federal troops, permitting them to make the march across Alabama without incident two weeks later; during the march, Gorman, Williams, and other more militant protesters carried bricks and sticks of their own.
Four Klansmen shot and killed Detroit homemaker Viola Liuzzo as she drove marchers back to Selma that night.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
"Remarks on the Signing of the Voting Rights Act"20:40Statement before the United States Congress by Johnson on August 6, 1965, about the Voting Rights Act"Remarks on the Signing of the Voting Rights Act"21:03audio onlyProblems playing these files? See media help.Eight days after the first march, but before the final march, President Johnson delivered a televised address to support the voting rights bill he had sent to Congress. In it he stated:
Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.
On August 6, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which suspended literacy tests and other subjective voter registration tests. It authorized Federal supervision of voter registration in states and individual voting districts where such tests were being used and where African Americans were historically under-represented in voting rolls compared to the eligible population. African Americans who had been barred from registering to vote finally had an alternative to taking suits to local or state courts, which had seldom prosecuted their cases to success. If discrimination in voter registration occurred, the 1965 act authorized the Attorney General of the United States to send Federal examiners to replace local registrars.
Within months of the bill's passage, 250,000 new black voters had been registered, one-third of them by federal examiners. Within four years, voter registration in the South had more than doubled. In 1965, Mississippi had the highest black voter turnout at 74% and led the nation in the number of black public officials elected. In 1969, Tennessee had a 92.1% turnout among black voters; Arkansas, 77.9%; and Texas, 73.1%.
Several whites who had opposed the Voting Rights Act paid a quick price. In 1966 Sheriff Jim Clark of Selma, Alabama, infamous for using cattle prods against civil rights marchers, was up for reelection. Although he took off the notorious "Never" pin on his uniform, he was defeated. At the election, Clark lost as blacks voted to get him out of office.
Blacks' regaining the power to vote changed the political landscape of the South. When Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, only about 100 African Americans held elective office, all in northern states. By 1989, there were more than 7,200 African Americans in office, including more than 4,800 in the South. Nearly every county where populations were majority black in Alabama had a black sheriff. Southern blacks held top positions in city, county, and state governments.
Atlanta elected a black mayor, Andrew Young, as did Jackson, Mississippi, with Harvey Johnson Jr., and New Orleans, with Ernest Morial. Black politicians on the national level included Barbara Jordan, elected as a Representative from Texas in Congress, and President Jimmy Carter appointed Andrew Young as United States Ambassador to the United Nations. Julian Bond was elected to the Georgia State Legislature in 1965, although political reaction to his public opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War prevented him from taking his seat until 1967. John Lewis was first elected in 1986 to represent Georgia's 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives, where he served from 1987 until his death in 2020.
Watts riot of 1965Main article: Watts Riots
Police arrest a man during the Watts riots in Los Angeles, August 1965The new Voting Rights Act of 1965 had no immediate effect on living conditions for poor blacks. A few days after the act became law, a riot broke out in the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Like Harlem, Watts was a majority-black neighborhood with very high unemployment and associated poverty. Its residents confronted a largely white police department that had a history of abuse against blacks.
While arresting a young man for drunk driving, police officers argued with the suspect's mother before onlookers. The spark triggered massive destruction of property through six days of rioting in Los Angeles. Thirty-four people were killed, and property valued at about $40 million was destroyed, making the Watts riots among the city's worst unrest until the Rodney King riots of 1992.
With black militancy on the rise, ghetto residents directed acts of anger at the police. Black residents growing tired of police brutality continued to riot. Some young people joined groups such as the Black Panthers, whose popularity was based in part on their reputation for confronting police officers. Riots among blacks occurred in 1966 and 1967 in cities such as Atlanta, San Francisco, Oakland, Baltimore, Seattle, Tacoma, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Newark, Chicago, New York City (specifically in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx), and worst of all in Detroit.
Fair housing movements, 1966–1968The first major blow against housing segregation in the era, the Rumford Fair Housing Act, was passed in California in 1963. It was overturned by white California voters and real estate lobbyists the following year with Proposition 14, a move which helped precipitate the Watts riots. In 1966, the California Supreme Court invalidated Proposition 14 and reinstated the Rumford Fair Housing Act.
Working and organizing for fair housing laws became a major project of the movement over the next two years, with Martin Luther King Jr., James Bevel, and Al Raby leading the Chicago Freedom Movement around the issue in 1966. In the following year, Father James Groppi and the NAACP Youth Council also attracted national attention with a fair housing campaign in Milwaukee. Both movements faced violent resistance from white homeowners and legal opposition from conservative politicians.
The Fair Housing Bill was the most contentious civil rights legislation of the era. Senator Walter Mondale, who advocated for the bill, noted that over successive years, it was the most filibustered legislation in U.S. history. It was opposed by most Northern and Southern senators, as well as the National Association of Real Estate Boards. A proposed "Civil Rights Act of 1966" had collapsed completely because of its fair housing provision. Mondale commented that:
A lot of civil rights [legislation] was about making the South behave and taking the teeth from George Wallace, [but] this came right to the neighborhoods across the country. This was civil rights getting personal.
Nationwide riots of 1967Main article: Long Hot Summer of 1967Further information: Detroit Riot of 1967, 1967 Newark riots, and 1967 Plainfield riots2:45CCFilm on the riots created by the White House Naval Photographic UnitIn 1967 riots broke out in black neighborhoods in more than 100 U.S. cities, including Detroit, Newark, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C. The largest of these was the 1967 Detroit riot.
In Detroit, a large black middle class had begun to develop among those African Americans who worked at unionized jobs in the automotive industry. These workers complained of persisting racist practices, limiting the jobs they could have and opportunities for promotion. The United Auto Workers channeled these complaints into bureaucratic and ineffective grievance procedures. Violent white mobs enforced the segregation of housing up through the 1960s. Blacks who were not upwardly mobile were living in substandard conditions, subject to the same problems as poor African Americans in Watts and Harlem.
When white Detroit Police Department (DPD) officers shut down an illegal bar and arrested a large group of patrons during the hot summer, furious black residents rioted. Rioters looted and destroyed property while snipers engaged in firefights from rooftops and windows, undermining the DPD's ability to curtail the disorder. In response, the Michigan Army National Guard and U.S. Army paratroopers were deployed to reinforce the DPD and protect Detroit Fire Department (DFD) firefighters from attacks while putting out fires. Residents reported that police officers and National Guardsmen shot at black civilians and suspects indiscriminately. After five days, 43 people had been killed, hundreds injured, and thousands left homeless; $40 to $45 million worth of damage was caused.
State and local governments responded to the riot with a dramatic increase in minority hiring. In the aftermath of the turmoil, the Greater Detroit Board of Commerce also launched a campaign to find jobs for ten thousand "previously unemployable" persons, a preponderant number of whom were black. Governor George Romney immediately responded to the riot of 1967 with a special session of the Michigan legislature where he forwarded sweeping housing proposals that included not only fair housing, but "important relocation, tenants' rights and code enforcement legislation." Romney had supported such proposals in 1965 but abandoned them in the face of organized opposition. The laws passed both houses of the legislature. Historian Sidney Fine wrote that:
The Michigan Fair Housing Act, which took effect on November 15, 1968, was stronger than the federal fair housing law...It is probably more than a coincidence that the state that had experienced the most severe racial disorder of the 1960s also adopted one of the strongest state fair housing acts.
President Johnson created the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders in response to a nationwide wave of riots. The commission's final report called for major reforms in employment and public policy in black communities. It warned that the United States was moving toward separate white and black societies.
Memphis, King assassination, and Civil Rights Act of 1968Main articles: Poor People's Campaign, Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and Civil Rights Act of 1968See also: King assassination riots and Orangeburg massacre
A 3,000-person shantytown called Resurrection City was established in 1968 on the National Mall as part of the Poor People's Campaign.As 1968 began, the fair housing bill was being filibustered once again, but two developments revived it. The Kerner Commission report on the 1967 ghetto riots was delivered to Congress on March 1, and it strongly recommended "a comprehensive and enforceable federal open housing law" as a remedy to the civil disturbances. The Senate was moved to end their filibuster that week.
James Lawson invited King to Memphis, Tennessee, in March 1968 to support a sanitation workers' strike. These workers launched a campaign for union representation after two workers were accidentally killed on the job; they were seeking fair wages and improved working conditions. King considered their struggle to be a vital part of the Poor People's Campaign he was planning.
"I've Been to the Mountaintop"0:30Final 30 seconds of "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech by Martin Luther King Jr. These are the final words from his final public speech.Problems playing this file? See media help.A day after delivering his stirring "I've Been to the Mountaintop" sermon, which has become famous for his vision of American society, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Riots broke out in black neighborhoods in more than 110 cities across the United States in the days that followed, notably in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
The day before King's funeral, April 8, a completely silent march with Coretta Scott King, SCLC, and UAW president Walter Reuther attracted approximately 42,000 participants. Armed National Guardsmen lined the streets, sitting on M-48 tanks, to protect the marchers, and helicopters circled overhead. On April 9, Mrs. King led another 150,000 people in a funeral procession through the streets of Atlanta. Her dignity revived courage and hope in many of the Movement's members, confirming her place as the new leader in the struggle for racial equality.
Coretta Scott King said,
Martin Luther King Jr. gave his life for the poor of the world, the garbage workers of Memphis and the peasants of Vietnam. The day that Negro people and others in bondage are truly free, on the day want is abolished, on the day wars are no more, on that day I know my husband will rest in a long-deserved peace.Aftermath of the King assassination riots in Washington, D.C.Ralph Abernathy succeeded King as the head of the SCLC and attempted to carry forth King's plan for a Poor People's March. It was to unite blacks and whites to campaign for fundamental changes in American society and economic structure. The march went forward under Abernathy's plainspoken leadership but did not achieve its goals.
Civil Rights Act of 1968The U.S. House of Representatives had been deliberating its Fair Housing Act in early April, before King's assassination and the aforementioned wave of unrest that followed, the largest since the Civil War. Senator Charles Mathias wrote:
[S]ome Senators and Representatives publicly stated they would not be intimidated or rushed into legislating because of the disturbances. Nevertheless, the news coverage of the riots and the underlying disparities in income, jobs, housing, and education, between White and Black Americans helped educate citizens and Congress about the stark reality of an enormous social problem. Members of Congress knew they had to act to redress these imbalances in American life to fulfill the dream that King had so eloquently preached.
The House passed the legislation on April 10, less than a week after King was murdered, and President Johnson signed it the next day. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin. It also made it a federal crime to "by force or by the threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone...by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin."
Gates v. Collier
Mississippi State PenitentiaryConditions at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, then known as Parchman Farm, became part of the public discussion of civil rights after activists were imprisoned there. In the spring of 1961, Freedom Riders came to the South to test the desegregation of public facilities. By the end of June 1963, Freedom Riders had been convicted in Jackson, Mississippi. Many were jailed in Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman. Mississippi employed the trusty system, a hierarchical order of inmates that used some inmates to control and enforce punishment of other inmates.
In 1970 the civil rights lawyer Roy Haber began taking statements from inmates. He collected 50 pages of details of murders, rapes, beatings and other abuses suffered by the inmates from 1969 to 1971 at Mississippi State Penitentiary. In a landmark case known as Gates v. Collier (1972), four inmates represented by Haber sued the superintendent of Parchman Farm for violating their rights under the United States Constitution.
Federal Judge William C. Keady found in favor of the inmates, writing that Parchman Farm violated the civil rights of the inmates by inflicting cruel and unusual punishment. He ordered an immediate end to all unconstitutional conditions and practices. Racial segregation of inmates was abolished, as was the trusty system, which allowed certain inmates to have power and control over others.
The prison was renovated in 1972 after the scathing ruling by Keady, who wrote that the prison was an affront to "modern standards of decency." Among other reforms, the accommodations were made fit for human habitation. The system of trusties was abolished. (The prison had armed lifers with rifles and given them authority to oversee and guard other inmates, which led to many cases of abuse and murders.)
In integrated correctional facilities in northern and western states, blacks represented a disproportionate number of prisoners, in excess of their proportion of the general population. They were often treated as second-class citizens by white correctional officers. Blacks also represented a disproportionately high number of death row inmates. Eldridge Cleaver's book Soul on Ice was written from his experiences in the California correctional system; it contributed to black militancy.
LegacyCivil rights protest activity had an observable impact on white American's views on race and politics over time. White people who live in counties in which civil rights protests of historical significance occurred have been found to have lower levels of racial resentment against blacks, are more likely to identify with the Democratic Party as well as more likely to support affirmative action.
One study found that non-violent activism of the era tended to produce favorable media coverage and changes in public opinion focusing on the issues organizers were raising, but violent protests tended to generate unfavorable media coverage that generated public desire to restore law and order.
The 1964 Act was passed to end discrimination in various fields based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the areas of employment and public accommodation. The 1964 Act did not prohibit sex discrimination against persons employed at educational institutions. A parallel law, Title VI, had also been enacted in 1964 to prohibit discrimination in federally funded private and public entities. It covered race, color, and national origin but excluded sex. Feminists during the early 1970s lobbied Congress to add sex as a protected class category. In 1972, Title IX was enacted to fill this gap and prohibit discrimination in all federally funded education programs. Title IX, or the Education Amendments of 1972 was later renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act following Mink's death in 2002.
Fannie Lou Hamer of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (and other Mississippi-based organizations) is an example of local grassroots leadership in the movement.African-American womenMain article: African-American women in the civil rights movementAfrican-American women in the civil rights movement were pivotal to its success. They volunteered as activists, advocates, educators, clerics, writers, spiritual guides, caretakers and politicians for the civil rights movement; leading and participating in organizations that contributed to the cause of civil rights. Rosa Parks's refusal to sit at the back of a public bus resulted in the year-long Montgomery bus boycott, and the eventual desegregation of interstate travel in the United States. Women were members of the NAACP because they believed it could help them contribute to the cause of civil rights. Some of those involved with the Black Panthers were nationally recognized as leaders, and still others did editorial work on the Black Panther newspaper spurring internal discussions about gender issues. Ella Baker founded the SNCC and was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement. Female students involved with the SNCC helped to organize sit-ins and the Freedom Rides. At the same time many elderly black women in towns across the Southern US cared for the organization's volunteers at their homes, providing the students food, a bed, healing aid and motherly love. Other women involved also formed church groups, bridge clubs, and professional organizations, such as the National Council of Negro Women, to help achieve freedom for themselves and their race. Several who participated in these organizations lost their jobs because of their involvement.
Sexist discriminationMany women who participated in the movement experienced gender discrimination and sexual harassment. In the SCLC, Ella Baker's input was discouraged in spite of her being the oldest and most experienced person on the staff. There are many other accounts and the "Communist" labelSee also: The Communist Party and African-AmericansOn December 17, 1951, the Communist Party–affiliated Civil Rights Congress delivered the petition We Charge Genocide: The Crime of Government Against the Negro People to the United Nations, arguing that the U.S. federal government, by its failure to act against lynching in the United States, was guilty of genocide under Article II of the UN Genocide Convention (see Black genocide). The petition was presented to the United Nations at two separate venues: Paul Robeson, a concert singer and activist, presented it to a UN official in New York City, while William L. Patterson, executive director of the CRC, delivered copies of the drafted petition to a UN delegation in Paris.
Patterson, the editor of the petition, was a leader of the Communist Party USA and head of the International Labor Defense, a group that offered legal representation to communists, trade unionists, and African Americans who were involved in cases that involved issues of political or racial persecution. The ILD was known for leading the defense of the Scottsboro Boys in Alabama in 1931, where the Communist Party had a considerable amount of influence among African Americans in the 1930s. This influence had largely declined by the late 1950s, although it could command international attention. As earlier civil rights figures such as Robeson, Du Bois and Patterson became more politically radical (and therefore targets of Cold War anti-Communism by the U.S. Government), they lost favor with mainstream Black America as well as with the NAACP.
In order to secure a place in the political mainstream and gain the broadest base of support, the new generation of civil rights activists believed that it had to openly distance itself from anything and anyone associated with the Communist party. According to Ella Baker, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference added the word "Christian" to its name in order to deter charges that it was associated with Communism. Under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had been concerned about communism since the early 20th century, and it kept civil rights activists under close surveillance and labeled some of them "Communist" or "subversive", a practice that continued during the civil rights movement. In the early 1960s, the practice of distancing the civil rights movement from "Reds" was challenged by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee which adopted a policy of accepting assistance and participation from anyone who supported the SNCC's political program and was willing to "put their body on the line, regardless of political affiliation." At times the SNCC's policy of political openness put it at odds with the NAACP.
Grassroots leadershipWhile most popular representations of the movement are centered on the leadership and philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr., some scholars note that the movement was too diverse to be credited to one person, organization, or strategy. Sociologist Doug McAdam has stated that, "in King's case, it would be inaccurate to say that he was the leader of the modern civil rights movement...but more importantly, there was no singular civil rights movement. The movement was, in fact, a coalition of thousands of local efforts nationwide, spanning several decades, hundreds of discrete groups, and all manner of strategies and tactics—legal, illegal, institutional, non-institutional, violent, non-violent. Without discounting King's importance, it would be sheer fiction to call him the leader of what was fundamentally an amorphous, fluid, dispersed movement." Decentralized grassroots leadership has been a major focus of movement scholarship in recent decades through the work of historians John Dittmer, Charles Payne, Barbara Ransby, and others.
Tactics and non-violence
Armed Lumbee Indians aggressively confronting Klansmen in the Battle of Hayes PondThe Jim Crow system employed "terror as a means of social control," with the most organized manifestations being the Ku Klux Klan and their collaborators in local police departments. This violence played a key role in blocking the progress of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s. Some black organizations in the South began practicing armed self-defense. The first to do so openly was the Monroe, North Carolina, chapter of the NAACP led by Robert F. Williams. Williams had rebuilt the chapter after its membership was terrorized out of public life by the Klan. He did so by encouraging a new, more working-class membership to arm itself thoroughly and defend against attack. When Klan nightriders attacked the home of NAACP member Albert Perry in October 1957, Williams' militia exchanged gunfire with the stunned Klansmen, who quickly retreated. The following day, the city council held an emergency session and passed an ordinance banning KKK motorcades. One year later, Lumbee Indians in North Carolina would have a similarly successful armed stand-off with the Klan (known as the Battle of Hayes Pond) which resulted in KKK leader James W. "Catfish" Cole being convicted of incitement to riot.
After the acquittal of several white men charged with sexually assaulting black women in Monroe, Williams announced to United Press International reporters that he would "meet violence with violence" as a policy. Williams' declaration was quoted on the front page of The New York Times, and The Carolina Times considered it "the biggest civil rights story of 1959". NAACP National chairman Roy Wilkins immediately suspended Williams from his position, but the Monroe organizer won support from numerous NAACP chapters across the country. Ultimately, Wilkins resorted to bribing influential organizer Daisy Bates to campaign against Williams at the NAACP national convention and the suspension was upheld. The convention nonetheless passed a resolution which stated: "We do not deny, but reaffirm the right of individual and collective self-defense against unlawful assaults." Martin Luther King Jr. argued for Williams' removal, but Ella Baker and WEB Dubois both publicly praised the Monroe leader's position.
Williams—along with his wife, Mabel Williams—continued to play a leadership role in the Monroe movement, and to some degree, in the national movement. The Williamses published The Crusader, a nationally circulated newsletter, beginning in 1960, and the influential book Negroes With Guns in 1962. Williams did not call for full militarization in this period, but "flexibility in the freedom struggle." Williams was well-versed in legal tactics and publicity, which he had used successfully in the internationally known "Kissing Case" of 1958, as well as nonviolent methods, which he used at lunch counter sit-ins in Monroe—all with armed self-defense as a complementary tactic.
Williams led the Monroe movement in another armed stand-off with white supremacists during an August 1961 Freedom Ride; he had been invited to participate in the campaign by Ella Baker and James Forman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The incident (along with his campaigns for peace with Cuba) resulted in him being targeted by the FBI and prosecuted for kidnapping; he was cleared of all charges in 1976. Meanwhile, armed self-defense continued discreetly in the Southern movement with such figures as SNCC's Amzie Moore, Hartman Turnbow, and Fannie Lou Hamer all willing to use arms to defend their lives from nightrides. Taking refuge from the FBI in Cuba, the Willamses broadcast the radio show Radio Free Dixie throughout the Eastern United States via Radio Progresso beginning in 1962. In this period, Williams advocated guerilla warfare against racist institutions and saw the large ghetto riots of the era as a manifestation of his strategy.
University of North Carolina historian Walter Rucker has written that "the emergence of Robert F Williams contributed to the marked decline in anti-black racial violence in the U.S....After centuries of anti-black violence, African Americans across the country began to defend their communities aggressively—employing overt force when necessary. This in turn evoked in whites real fear of black vengeance..." This opened up space for African Americans to use nonviolent demonstrations with less fear of deadly reprisal. Of the many civil rights activists who share this view, the most prominent was Rosa Parks. Parks gave the eulogy at Williams' funeral in 1996, praising him for "his courage and for his commitment to freedom," and concluding that "The sacrifices he made, and what he did, should go down in history and never be forgotten."
Political responsesEisenhower administration: 1953–1961While not a key focus of his administration, President Eisenhower made several conservative strides toward making America a racially integrated country. The year he was elected, Eisenhower desegregated Washington D.C. after hearing a story about an African American man who was unable to rent a hotel room, buy a meal, access drinking water, and attend a movie. Shortly after this act, Eisenhower utilized Hollywood personalities to pressure movie theatres into desegregating as well.
Under the previous administration, President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the military. However, Truman's executive order had hardly been enforced. President Eisenhower made it a point to enforce the executive order. By October 30, 1954, there were no segregated combat units in the United States. Not only this, but Eisenhower also desegregated the Veterans Administration and military bases in the South, including federal schools for military dependents. Expanding his work beyond the military, Eisenhower formed two non-discrimination committees, one to broker nondiscrimination agreements with government contractors, and a second to end discrimination within government departments and agencies.
The first major piece of civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Act of 1875 was also passed under the Eisenhower administration. President Eisenhower proposed, championed, and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957. The legislation established the Civil Rights Commission and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and banned intimidating, coercing, and other means of interfering with a citizen's right to vote. Eisenhower's work in desegregating the judicial system is also notable. The judges he appointed were liberal when it came to the subject of civil rights / desegregation, and he actively avoided placing segregationists in federal courts.
Kennedy administration: 1961–1963
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy speaking before a hostile Civil Rights crowd protesting low minority hiring in his Justice Department June 14, 1963For the first two years of the Kennedy administration, civil rights activists had mixed opinions of both the president and his younger brother, Robert F. Kennedy, the Attorney General. Historian David Halberstam wrote that the race question was for a long time a minor ethnic political issue in Massachusetts where the Kennedy brothers came from, and had they been from another part of the country, "they might have been more immediately sensitive to the complexities and depth of black feelings." A well of historical skepticism toward liberal politics had left African Americans with a sense of uneasy disdain for any white politician who claimed to share their concerns for freedom, particularly ones connected to the historically pro-segregationist Democratic Party. Still, many were encouraged by the discreet support Kennedy gave to King, and the administration's willingness, after dramatic pressure from civil disobedience, to bring forth racially egalitarian initiatives.
Many of the initiatives resulted from Robert Kennedy's passion. The younger Kennedy gained a rapid education in the realities of racism through events such as the Baldwin-Kennedy meeting. The president came to share his brother's sense of urgency on the matter, resulting in the landmark Civil Rights Address of June 1963 and the introduction of the first major civil rights act of the decade.
Robert Kennedy expressed the administration's commitment to civil rights during a May 6, 1961 speech at the University of Georgia Law School:
Our position is quite clear. We are upholding the law. The federal government would not be running the schools in Prince Edward County any more than it is running the University of Georgia or the schools in my home state of Massachusetts. In this case, in all cases, I say to you today that if the orders of the court are circumvented, the Department of Justice will act. We will not stand by or be aloof—we will move. I happen to believe that the 1954 decision was right. But my belief does not matter. It is now the law. Some of you may believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is the law.
That same month, during the Freedom Rides, Robert Kennedy became concerned with the issue when photographs of the burning bus and savage beatings in Anniston and Birmingham were broadcast around the world. They came at an especially embarrassing time, as President Kennedy was about to have a summit with the Soviet premier in Vienna. The White House was concerned with its image among the populations of newly independent nations in Africa and Asia, and Robert Kennedy responded with an address for Voice of America stating that great progress had been made on the issue of race relations. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the administration worked to resolve the crisis with a minimum of violence and prevent the Freedom Riders from generating a fresh crop of headlines that might divert attention from the President's international agenda. The Freedom Riders documentary notes that, "The back burner issue of civil rights had collided with the urgent demands of Cold War realpolitik."
On May 21, when a white mob attacked and burned the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where King was holding out with protesters, Robert Kennedy telephoned King to ask him to stay in the building until the U.S. Marshals and National Guard could secure the area. King proceeded to berate Kennedy for "allowing the situation to continue". King later publicly thanked Kennedy for deploying the force to break up an attack that might otherwise have ended King's life.
With a very small majority in Congress, the president's ability to press ahead with legislation relied considerably on a balancing game with the Senators and Congressmen of the South. Without the support of Vice-President Johnson, a former Senator who had years of experience in Congress and longstanding relations there, many of the Attorney-General's programs would not have progressed.
By late 1962, frustration at the slow pace of political change was balanced by the movement's strong support for legislative initiatives, including administrative representation across all U.S. Government departments and greater access to the ballot box. From squaring off against Governor George Wallace, to "tearing into" Vice-President Johnson (for failing to desegregate areas of the administration), to threatening corrupt white Southern judges with disbarment, to desegregating interstate transport, Robert Kennedy came to be consumed by the civil rights movement. He continued to work on these social justice issues in his offer for the presidency in 1968.
On the night of Governor Wallace's capitulation to African-American enrollment at the University of Alabama, President Kennedy gave an address to the nation, which marked the changing tide, an address that was to become a landmark for the ensuing change in political policy as to civil rights. In 1966, Robert Kennedy visited South Africa and voiced his objections to apartheid, the first time a major US politician had done so:
At the University of Natal in Durban, I was told the church to which most of the white population belongs teaches apartheid as a moral necessity. A questioner declared that few churches allow black Africans to pray with the white because the Bible says that is the way it should be, because God created Negroes to serve. "But suppose God is black", I replied. "What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?" There was no answer. Only silence.
— LOOK MagazineRobert Kennedy's relationship with the movement was not always positive. As attorney general, he was called to account by activists—who booed him at a June 1963 speech—for the Justice Department's own poor record of hiring blacks. He also presided over FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his COINTELPRO program. This program ordered FBI agents to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" the activities of Communist front groups, a category in which the paranoid Hoover included most civil rights organizations. Kennedy personally authorized some of the programs. According to Tim Weiner, "RFK knew much more about this surveillance than he ever admitted." Although Kennedy only gave approval for limited wiretapping of King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so." Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of the black leader's life they deemed important; they then used this information to harass King. Kennedy directly ordered surveillance on James Baldwin after their antagonistic racial summit in 1963.
Johnson administration: 1963–1969Further information: Civil Rights Act of 1964, War on Poverty, and Lyndon B. JohnsonLyndon Johnson made civil rights one of his highest priorities, coupling it with a "war on poverty." However, the increasing opposition to the Vietnam War, coupled with the cost of the war, undercut support for his domestic programs.
Under Kennedy, major civil rights legislation had been stalled in Congress. His assassination changed everything. On one hand, President Lyndon Johnson was a much more skillful negotiator than Kennedy, but he had behind him a powerful national momentum demanding immediate action on moral and emotional grounds. Demands for immediate action originated from unexpected directions, especially white Protestant church groups. The Justice Department, led by Robert Kennedy, moved from a posture of defending Kennedy from the quagmire minefield of racial politics to acting to fulfill his legacy. The violent death and public reaction dramatically moved the conservative Republicans, led by Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, whose support was the margin of victory for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act immediately ended de jure (legal) segregation and the era of Jim Crow.
With the civil rights movement at full blast, Lyndon Johnson coupled black entrepreneurship with his war on poverty, setting up special programs in the Small Business Administration, the Office of Economic Opportunity, and other agencies. This time there was money for loans designed to boost minority business ownership. Richard Nixon greatly expanded the program, setting up the Office of Minority Business Enterprise (OMBE) in the expectation that black entrepreneurs would help defuse racial tensions and possibly support his reelection .
Popular reactionsAmerican JewsSee also: African American–Jewish relations; New York City teachers' strike of 1968; and Brownsville, Brooklyn
Jewish civil rights activist Joseph L. Rauh Jr. marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963Many in the Jewish community supported the civil rights movement. In fact, statistically, Jews were one of the most actively involved non-black groups in the Movement. Many Jewish students worked in concert with African Americans for CORE, SCLC, and SNCC as full-time organizers and summer volunteers during the Civil Rights era. Jews made up roughly half of the white northern and western volunteers involved in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project and approximately half of the civil rights attorneys active in the South during the 1960s.
Jewish leaders were arrested while heeding a call from Martin Luther King Jr. in St. Augustine, Florida, in June 1964, where the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history took place at the Monson Motor Lodge. Abraham Joshua Heschel, a writer, rabbi, and professor of theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, was outspoken on the subject of civil rights. He marched arm-in-arm with King in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. In the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, the two white activists killed, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were both Jewish.
Brandeis University, the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college university in the world, created the Transitional Year Program (TYP) in 1968, in part response to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The faculty created it to renew the university's commitment to social justice. Recognizing Brandeis as a university with a commitment to academic excellence, these faculty members created a chance for disadvantaged students to participate in an empowering educational experience.
The American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, and Anti-Defamation League (ADL) actively promoted civil rights. While Jews were very active in the civil rights movement in the South, in the North, many had experienced a more strained relationship with African Americans. It has been argued that with Black militancy and the Black Power movements on the rise, "Black Anti-Semitism" increased leading to strained relations between Blacks and Jews in Northern communities. In New York City, most notably, there was a major socio-economic class difference in the perception of African Americans by Jews. Jews from better educated Upper-Middle-Class backgrounds were often very supportive of African American civil rights activities while the Jews in poorer urban communities that became increasingly minority were often less supportive largely in part due to more negative and violent interactions between the two groups.
According to political scientist Michael Rogin, Jewish-Black hostility was a two-way street extending to earlier decades. In the post-World War II era, Jews were granted white privilege and most moved into the middle-class while Blacks were left behind in the ghetto. Urban Jews engaged in the same sort of conflicts with Blacks—over integration busing, local control of schools, housing, crime, communal identity, and class divides—that other white ethnics did, leading to Jews participating in white flight. The culmination of this was the 1968 New York City teachers' strike, pitting largely Jewish schoolteachers against predominantly Black parents in Brownsville, New York.
Public profileMany Jews in the Southern states who supported civil rights for African Americans tended to keep a low profile on "the race issue", in order to avoid attracting the attention of the anti-Black and antisemitic Ku Klux Klan. However, Klan groups exploited the issue of African-American integration and Jewish involvement in the struggle in order to commit violently antisemitic hate crimes. As an example of this hatred, in one year alone, from November 1957 to October 1958, temples and other Jewish communal gatherings were bombed and desecrated in Atlanta, Nashville, Jacksonville, and Miami, and dynamite was found under synagogues in Birmingham, Charlotte, and Gastonia, North Carolina. Some rabbis received death threats, but there were no injuries following these outbursts of violence.
Black segregationistsDespite the common notion that the ideas of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Black Power only conflicted with each other and were the only ideologies of the civil rights movement, there were other sentiments felt by many blacks. Fearing the events during the movement was occurring too quickly, there were some blacks who felt that leaders should take their activism at an incremental pace. Others had reservations on how focused blacks were on the movement and felt that such attention was better spent on reforming issues within the black community.
While Conservatives, in general, supported integration, some defended incrementally phased out segregation as a backstop against assimilation. Based on her interpretation of a 1966 study made by Donald Matthews and James Prothro detailing the relative percentage of blacks for integration, against it or feeling something else, Lauren Winner asserts that:
Black defenders of segregation look, at first blush, very much like black nationalists, especially in their preference for all-black institutions; but black defenders of segregation differ from nationalists in two key ways. First, while both groups criticize NAACP-style integration, nationalists articulate a third alternative to integration and Jim Crow, while segregationists preferred to stick with the status quo. Second, absent from black defenders of segregation's political vocabulary was the demand for self-determination. They called for all-black institutions, but not autonomous all-black institutions; indeed, some defenders of segregation asserted that black people needed white paternalism and oversight in order to thrive.
Oftentimes, African-American community leaders would be staunch defenders of segregation. Church ministers, businessmen, and educators were among those who wished to keep segregation and segregationist ideals in order to retain the privileges they gained from patronage from whites, such as monetary gains. In addition, they relied on segregation to keep their jobs and economies in their communities thriving. It was feared that if integration became widespread in the South, black-owned businesses and other establishments would lose a large chunk of their customer base to white-owned businesses, and many blacks would lose opportunities for jobs that were presently exclusive to their interests. On the other hand, there were the everyday, average black people who criticized integration as well. For them, they took issue with different parts of the civil rights movement and the potential for blacks to exercise consumerism and economic liberty without hindrance from whites.
For Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and other leading activists and groups during the movement, these opposing viewpoints acted as an obstacle against their ideas. These different views made such leaders' work much harder to accomplish, but they were nonetheless important in the overall scope of the movement. For the most part, the black individuals who had reservations on various aspects of the movement and ideologies of the activists were not able to make a game-changing dent in their efforts, but the existence of these alternate ideas gave some blacks an outlet to express their concerns about the changing social structure.
"Black Power" militantsMain articles: Black Power and Black Power movement
Gold medalist Tommie Smith (center) and bronze medalist John Carlos (right) showing the raised fist on the podium after the 200 m race at the 1968 Summer Olympics; both wear Olympic Project for Human Rights badges. Peter Norman (silver medalist, left) from Australia also wears an OPHR badge in solidarity with Smith and Carlos.During the Freedom Summer campaign of 1964, numerous tensions within the civil rights movement came to the forefront. Many blacks in SNCC developed concerns that white activists from the North and West were taking over the movement. The participation by numerous white students was not reducing the amount of violence that SNCC suffered, but seemed to exacerbate it. Additionally, there was profound disillusionment at Lyndon Johnson's denial of voting status for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention. Meanwhile, during CORE's work in Louisiana that summer, that group found the federal government would not respond to requests to enforce the provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or to protect the lives of activists who challenged segregation. The Louisiana campaign survived by relying on a local African-American militia called the Deacons for Defense and Justice, who used arms to repel white supremacist violence and police repression. CORE's collaboration with the Deacons was effective in disrupting Jim Crow in numerous Louisiana areas.
In 1965, SNCC helped organize an independent political party, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), in the heart of the Alabama Black Belt, also Klan territory. It permitted its black leaders to openly promote the use of armed self-defense. Meanwhile, the Deacons for Defense and Justice expanded into Mississippi and assisted Charles Evers' NAACP chapter with a successful campaign in Natchez. Charles had taken the lead after his brother Medgar Evers was assassinated in 1963. The same year, the 1965 Watts Rebellion took place in Los Angeles. Many black youths were committed to the use of violence to protest inequality and oppression.
During the March Against Fear in 1966, initiated by James Meredith, SNCC and CORE fully embraced the slogan of "black power" to describe these trends towards militancy and self-reliance. In Mississippi, Stokely Carmichael declared, "I'm not going to beg the white man for anything that I deserve, I'm going to take it. We need power."
Some people engaging in the Black Power movement claimed a growing sense of black pride and identity. In gaining more of a sense of a cultural identity, blacks demanded that whites no longer refer to them as "Negroes" but as "Afro-Americans," similar to other ethnic groups, such as Irish Americans and Italian Americans. Until the mid-1960s, blacks had dressed similarly to whites and often straightened their hair. As a part of affirming their identity, blacks started to wear African-based dashikis and grow their hair out as a natural afro. The afro, sometimes nicknamed the "'fro," remained a popular black hairstyle until the late 1970s. Other variations of traditional African styles have become popular, often featuring braids, extensions, and dreadlocks.
The Black Panther Party (BPP), which was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California, in 1966, gained the most attention for Black Power nationally. The group began following the revolutionary pan-Africanism of late-period Malcolm X, using a "by-any-means necessary" approach to stopping racial inequality. They sought to rid African-American neighborhoods of police brutality and to establish socialist community control in the ghettos. While they conducted armed confrontation with police, they also set up free breakfast and healthcare programs for children. Between 1968 and 1971, the BPP was one of the most important black organizations in the country and had support from the NAACP, SCLC, Peace and Freedom Party, and others.
Black Power was taken to another level inside prison walls. In 1966, George Jackson formed the Black Guerrilla Family in the California San Quentin State Prison. The goal of this group was to overthrow the white-run government in America and the prison system. In 1970, this group displayed their dedication after a white prison guard was found not guilty of shooting and killing three black prisoners from the prison tower. They retaliated by killing a white prison guard."Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud"0:16James Brown's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud" (1968)Problems playing this file? See media help.Numerous popular cultural expressions associated with black power appeared at this time. Released in August 1968, the number one Rhythm & Blues single for the Billboard Year-End list was James Brown's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud". In October 1968, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, while being awarded the gold and bronze medals, respectively, at the 1968 Summer Olympics, donned human rights badges and each raised a black-gloved Black Power salute during their podium ceremony.
King was not comfortable with the "Black Power" slogan, which sounded too much like black nationalism to him. When King was assassinated in 1968, Stokely Carmichael said that whites had murdered the one person who would prevent rampant rioting and that blacks would burn every major city to the ground. Riots broke out in more than 100 cities across the country. Some cities did not recover from the damage for more than a generation; other city neighborhoods never recovered.
Native AmericansKing and the civil rights movement inspired the Native American rights movement of the 1960s and many of its leaders. Native Americans had been dehumanized as "merciless Indian savages" in the United States Declaration of Independence, and in King's 1964 book Why We Can't Wait he wrote: "Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race." John Echohawk, a member of the Pawnee tribe and the executive director and one of the founders of the Native American Rights Fund, stated: "Inspired by Dr. King, who was advancing the civil rights agenda of equality under the laws of this country, we thought that we could also use the laws to advance our Indianship, to live as tribes in our territories governed by our own laws under the principles of tribal sovereignty that had been with us ever since 1831. We believed that we could fight for a policy of self-determination that was consistent with U.S. law and that we could govern our own affairs, define our own ways and continue to survive in this society". Native Americans were also active supporters of King's movement throughout the 1960s, which included a sizable Native American contingent at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Northern IrelandSee also: Northern Ireland civil rights movement
Mural of Malcolm X in BelfastDue to policies of segregation and disenfranchisement present in Northern Ireland many Irish activists took inspiration from American civil rights activists. People's Democracy had organized a "Long March" from Belfast to Derry which was inspired by the Selma to Montgomery marches. During the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland protesters often sang the American protest song We Shall Overcome and sometimes referred to themselves as the "negroes of Northern Ireland".
Soviet UnionThere was an international context for the actions of the U.S. federal government during these years. The Soviet media frequently covered racial discrimination in the U.S. Deeming American criticism of its own human rights abuses hypocritical, the Soviet government would respond by stating "And you are lynching Negroes". In his 1934 book Russia Today: What Can We Learn from It?, Sherwood Eddy wrote: "In the most remote villages of Russia today Americans are frequently asked what they are going to do to the Scottsboro Negro boys and why they lynch Negroes."
In Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy, the historian Mary L. Dudziak wrote that Communists who were critical of the United States accused it of practicing hypocrisy when it portrayed itself as the "leader of the free world," while so many of its citizens were being subjected to severe racial discrimination and violence; she argued that this was a major factor in moving the government to support civil rights legislation.
White moderatesA majority of White Southerners have been estimated to have neither supported or resisted the civil rights movement. Many did not enjoy the idea of expanding civil rights but were uncomfortable with the language and often violent tactics used by those who resisted the civil rights movement as part of the Massive resistance. Many only reacted to the movement once forced to by their changing Environment, and when they did their response was usually whatever they felt would disturb their daily life the least. Most of their personal reactions, whether eventually in support or resistance were not in extreme.
White segregationistsSee also: Neo-Nazism § United States
Ku Klux Klan demonstration in St. Augustine, Florida in 1964King reached the height of popular acclaim during his life in 1964, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After that point his career was filled with frustrating challenges. The liberal coalition that had gained passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 began to fray.
King was becoming more estranged from the Johnson administration. In 1965 he broke with it by calling for peace negotiations and a halt to the bombing of Vietnam. He moved further left in the following years, speaking about the need for economic justice and thoroughgoing changes in American society. He believed that change was needed beyond the civil rights which had been gained by the movement.
However, King's attempts to broaden the scope of the civil rights movement were halting and largely unsuccessful. In 1965 King made several attempts to take the Movement north in order to address housing discrimination. The SCLC's campaign in Chicago publicly failed, because Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley marginalized the SCLC's campaign by promising to "study" the city's problems. In 1966, white demonstrators in notoriously racist Cicero, a suburb of Chicago, held "white power" signs and threw stones at marchers who were demonstrating against housing segregation.
Politicians and journalists quickly blamed this white backlash on the movement's shift towards Black Power in the mid-1960s; today most scholars believe the backlash was a phenomenon that was already developing in the mid-1950s, and it was embodied in the "massive resistance" movement in the South where even the few moderate white leaders (including George Wallace, who had once been endorsed by the NAACP) shifted to openly racist positions. Northern and Western racists opposed the southerners on a regional and cultural basis, but also held segregationist attitudes which became more pronounced as the civil rights movement headed north and west. For instance, prior to the Watts riot, California whites had already mobilized to repeal the state's 1963 fair housing law.
Even so, the backlash which occurred at the time was not able to roll back the major civil rights victories which had been achieved or swing the country into reaction. Social historians Matthew Lassiter and Barbara Ehrenreich note that the backlash's primary constituency was suburban and middle-class, not working-class whites: "among the white electorate, one half of blue-collar voters…cast their ballot for [the liberal presidential candidate] Hubert Humphrey in 1968…only in the South did George Wallace draw substantially more blue-collar than white-collar support."
In popular cultureMain article: Civil rights movement in popular cultureThe 1954 to 1968 civil rights movement contributed strong cultural threads to American and international theater, song, film, television, and art.
Activist organizationsNational/regional civil rights organizationsCongress of Racial Equality (CORE)Deacons for Defense and JusticeLeadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR)Medical Committee for Human Rights (MCHR)National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU)Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF)Southern Student Organizing Committee (SSOC)National economic empowerment organizationsOperation BreadbasketUrban LeagueLocal civil rights organizationsAlbany Movement (Albany, Georgia)Council of Federated Organizations (Mississippi)Montgomery Improvement Association (Montgomery, Alabama)Nashville Student Movement (Nashville, Tennessee)Regional Council of Negro Leadership (Mississippi)Women's Political Council (Montgomery, Alabama)Individual activistsRalph AbernathyVictoria Gray AdamsMuhammad AliMaya AngelouLouis AustinElla BakerJames BaldwinMarion BarryDaisy BatesHarry BelafonteFay Bellamy PowellJames BevelClaude BlackUnita BlackwellJulian BondAnne BradenCarl BradenStanley BrancheRalph BuncheMary Fair BurksStokely CarmichaelJames ChaneyShirley ChisholmSeptima Poinsette ClarkXernona ClaytonAlbert CleageEldridge CleaverCharles E. Cobb Jr.John ConyersSam CookeAnnie Lee CooperDorothy CottonClaudette ColvinJonathan DanielsOssie DavisRuby DeeAnnie DevineDoris DerbyMarian Wright EdelmanMedgar EversJames L. Farmer Jr.Walter E. FauntroyKarl FlemingSarah Mae FlemmingJames FormanFrankie Muse FreemanAndrew GoodmanFred GrayJack GreenbergDick GregoryPrathia HallFannie Lou HamerLorraine HansberryRobert HaylingDorothy HeightLola HendricksAaron HenryLibby HolmanMyles HortonT. R. M. HowardWinson HudsonJesse JacksonJimmie Lee JacksonMahalia JacksonEsau JenkinsClarence B. JonesBarbara JordanVernon JordanClyde KennardCoretta Scott KingMartin Luther King Jr.Bernard LafayetteJames LawsonBernard LeeJohn LewisStanley LevisonViola LiuzzoAudre LordeJoseph LoweryAutherine LucyClara LuperThurgood MarshallBenjamin MaysFranklin McCainFloyd McKissickJames MeredithLoren MillerJack MinnisAnne MoodyHarry T. MooreE. Frederic MorrowBob MosesBill MoyerElijah MuhammadDiane NashDenise NicholasE. D. NixonDavid NolanJames OrangeNan Grogan OrrockRosa ParksRutledge PearsonAdam Clayton Powell Jr.Gloria Johnson-PowellA. Philip RandolphGeorge RaymondGeorge Raymond Jr.James ReebFrederick D. ReeseWalter ReutherGloria RichardsonDavid RichmondPaul RobesonAmelia Boynton RobinsonJackie RobinsonJo Ann RobinsonRuby Doris Smith-RobinsonBayard RustinMichael SchwernerCleveland SellersCharles SherrodFred ShuttlesworthModjeska Monteith SimkinsNina SimoneCharles Kenzie SteeleAnnie SteinDempsey TravisC. T. VivianWyatt Tee WalkerRoy WilkinsHosea WilliamsRobert F. WilliamsMalcolm XAndrew YoungWhitney YoungSee also Civil rights movement portalFlag United States portalicon Society portal 1950s portal 1960s portalCivil rights movement (1896–1954)Civil rights movement (1865–1896)American Indian MovementAsian American movementChicano MovementHistory of civil rights in the United StatesList of civil rights leadersList of Kentucky women in the civil rights eraList of photographers of the civil rights movementSouth Carolina in the civil rights movementTimeline of the civil rights movement"We Shall Overcome," the unofficial anthem of the movementHistory preservationBirmingham Civil Rights National MonumentCivil Rights Movement ArchiveFreedom Riders National MonumentRead's Drug Store (Baltimore), the site of a 1955 desegregation sit-inSeattle Civil Rights and Labor History ProjectTelevision News of the Civil Rights Era 1950–1970Post–civil rights movementBlack Lives MatterPost–civil rights era in African-American history
Baptists form a major branch of Protestantism distinguished by baptizing only professing Christian believers (believer's baptism), and doing so by complete immersion. Baptist churches also generally subscribe to the doctrines of soul competency (the responsibility and accountability of every person before God), sola fide (salvation by just faith alone), sola scriptura (scripture alone as the rule of faith and practice) and congregationalist church government. Baptists generally recognize two ordinances: baptism and communion.
Diverse from their beginning, those identifying as Baptists today differ widely from one another in what they believe, how they worship, their attitudes toward other Christians, and their understanding of what is important in Christian discipleship. Baptist missionaries have spread various Baptist confessions to every continent. The largest voluntary grouping of Baptist churches is the Baptist World Alliance but there are many different groupings of Baptist churches and Baptist congregations which belong to no larger group.
Historians trace the earliest Baptist church to 1609 in Amsterdam, Dutch Republic with English Separatist John Smyth as its pastor. In accordance with his reading of the New Testament, he rejected baptism of infants and instituted baptism only of believing adults. Baptist practice spread to England, where the General Baptists considered Christ's atonement to extend to all people, while the Particular Baptists believed that it extended only to the elect. Thomas Helwys formulated a distinctively Baptist request that the church and the state be kept separate in matters of law, so that individuals might have freedom of religion. Helwys died in prison as a consequence of the religious conflict with English Dissenters under James I. In 1638, Roger Williams established the first Baptist congregation in the North American colonies. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the First and Second Great Awakening increased church membership in the United States. Swedish Baptists (Scandinavian Baptists) have origins in the Radical Pietism movement that split off from the Lutheran Church of Sweden due to the Conventicle Act (Sweden) rather than the English Dissenters that split off from the Anglican Church of England, but both reached similar conclusions on theology and ecclesiology.
OriginsBaptist historian Bruce Gourley outlines four main views of Baptist origins:
the modern scholarly consensus that the movement traces its origin to the 17th century via the English Separatists,the view that it was an outgrowth of the Anabaptist movement of believer's baptism begun in 1525 on the European continent,the perpetuity view which assumes that the Baptist faith and practice has existed since the time of Christ, andthe successionist view, or "Baptist successionism", which argues that Baptist churches actually existed in an unbroken chain since the time of Christ.English separatist view
John Smyth led the first Baptist church in Amsterdam in 1609.Modern Baptist churches trace their history to the English Separatist movement in the 1600s, the century after the rise of the original Protestant denominations. This view of Baptist origins has the most historical support and is the most widely accepted. Adherents to this position consider the influence of Anabaptists upon early Baptists to be minimal. It was a time of considerable political and religious turmoil. Both individuals and churches were willing to give up their theological roots if they became convinced that a more biblical "truth" had been discovered.
During the Protestant Reformation, the Church of England (Anglicans) separated from the Roman Catholic Church. There were some Christians who were not content with the achievements of the mainstream Protestant Reformation. There also were Christians who were disappointed that the Church of England had not made corrections of what some considered to be errors and abuses. Of those most critical of the Church's direction, some chose to stay and try to make constructive changes from within the Anglican Church. They became known as "Puritans" and are described by Gourley as cousins of the English Separatists. Others decided they must leave the Church because of their dissatisfaction and became known as the Separatists.
In 1579, Faustus Socinus founded the Unitarians in Poland, which was a tolerant country. The Unitarians taught baptism by immersion. When Poland ceased to be tolerant, they fled to Holland. In Holland, the Unitarians introduced immersion baptism to the Dutch Mennonites.
Baptist churches have their origins in a movement started by the English John Smyth and Thomas Helwys in Amsterdam. Due to their shared beliefs with the Puritans and Congregationalists, they went into exile in 1607 for Holland with other believers who held the same biblical positions. They believe that the Bible is to be the only guide and that the believer's baptism is what the scriptures require. In 1609, the year considered to be the foundation of the movement, they baptized believers and founded the first Baptist church.
In 1609, while still there, Smyth wrote a tract titled "The Character of the Beast," or "The False Constitution of the Church." In it he expressed two propositions: first, infants are not to be baptized; and second, "Antichristians converted are to be admitted into the true Church by baptism." Hence, his conviction was that a scriptural church should consist only of regenerate believers who have been baptized on a personal confession of faith. He rejected the Separatist movement's doctrine of infant baptism (paedobaptism). Shortly thereafter, Smyth left the group. Ultimately, Smyth became committed to believers' baptism as the only biblical baptism. He was convinced on the basis of his interpretation of Scripture that infants would not be damned should they die in infancy. Smyth, convinced that his self-baptism was invalid, applied with the Mennonites for membership. He died while waiting for membership, and some of his followers became Mennonites. Thomas Helwys and others kept their baptism and their Baptist commitments. The modern Baptist denomination is an outgrowth of Smyth's movement. Baptists rejected the name Anabaptist when they were called that by opponents in derision. McBeth writes that as late as the 18th century, many Baptists referred to themselves as "the Christians commonly—though falsely—called Anabaptists."
Thomas Helwys took over the leadership, leading the church back to England in 1611 and published the first Baptist confession of faith "A Declaration of Faith of English People" in 1611. He founded the first General Baptist Church in Spitalfields, east London, England in 1612.
Another milestone in the early development of Baptist doctrine was in 1638 with John Spilsbury, a Calvinistic minister who helped to promote the strict practice of believer's baptism by immersion (as opposed to affusion or aspersion). According to Tom Nettles, professor of historical theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, "Spilsbury's cogent arguments for a gathered, disciplined congregation of believers baptized by immersion as constituting the New Testament church gave expression to and built on insights that had emerged within separatism, advanced in the life of John Smyth and the suffering congregation of Thomas Helwys, and matured in Particular Baptists."
Anabaptist influence viewA minority view is that early-17th-century Baptists were influenced by (but not directly connected to) continental Anabaptists. According to this view, the General Baptists shared similarities with Dutch Waterlander Mennonites (one of many Anabaptist groups) including believer's baptism only, religious liberty, separation of church and state, and Arminian views of salvation, predestination and original sin. Representative writers including A.C. Underwood and William R. Estep. Gourley wrote that among some contemporary Baptist scholars who emphasize the faith of the community over soul liberty, the Anabaptist influence theory is making a comeback.
However, the relations between Baptists and Anabaptists were early strained. In 1624, the then five existing Baptist churches of London issued a condemnation of the Anabaptists. Furthermore, the original group associated with Smyth and popularly believed to be the first Baptists broke with the Waterlander Mennonite Anabaptists after a brief period of association in the Netherlands.
Perpetuity and succession viewMain article: Baptist successionismTraditional Baptist historians write from the perspective that Baptists had existed since the time of Christ. Proponents of the Baptist successionist or perpetuity view consider the Baptist movement to have existed independently from Roman Catholicism and prior to the Protestant Reformation.
The perpetuity view is often identified with The Trail of blood, a booklet of five lectures by J.M. Carrol published in 1931. Other Baptist writers who advocate the successionist theory of Baptist origins are John T. Christian, Thomas Crosby, G. H. Orchard, J. M. Cramp, William Cathcart, Adam Taylor and D. B. Ray. This view was also held by English Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon as well as Jesse Mercer, the namesake of Mercer University.
In 1898 William Whitsitt was pressured to resign his presidency of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for denying Baptist successionism.
Baptist origins in the United KingdomSee also: Baptist Union of Great Britain
A Short Declaration of the Mistery of Iniquity (1612) by Thomas Helwys. For Helwys, religious liberty was a right for everyone, even for those he disagreed with.In 1612, Thomas Helwys established a Baptist congregation in London, consisting of congregants from Smyth's church. A number of other Baptist churches sprang up, and they became known as the General Baptists. The Particular Baptists were established when a group of Calvinist Separatists adopted believers' Baptism.[page needed] The Particular Baptists consisted of seven churches by 1644 and had created a confession of faith called the First London Confession of Faith.
Baptist origins in North AmericaSee also: Baptists in the United States and Baptists in Canada
The First Baptist Church in America located in Providence, Rhode Island.Both Roger Williams and John Clarke, his compatriot and coworker for religious freedom, are variously credited as founding the earliest Baptist church in North America. In 1639, Williams established a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island, and Clarke began a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island. According to a Baptist historian who has researched the matter extensively, "There is much debate over the centuries as to whether the Providence or Newport church deserved the place of 'first' Baptist congregation in America. Exact records for both congregations are lacking."
The Great Awakening energized the Baptist movement, and the Baptist community experienced spectacular growth. Baptists became the largest Christian community in many southern states, including among the enslaved Black population.
Baptist missionary work in Canada began in the British colony of Nova Scotia (present day Nova Scotia and New Brunswick) in the 1760s. The first official record of a Baptist church in Canada was that of the Horton Baptist Church (now Wolfville) in Wolfville, Nova Scotia on 29 October 1778. The church was established with the assistance of the New Light evangelist Henry Alline. Many of Alline's followers, after his death, would convert and strengthen the Baptist presence in the Atlantic region. Two major groups of Baptists formed the basis of the churches in the Maritimes. These were referred to as Regular Baptist (Calvinistic in their doctrine) and Free Will Baptists (Arminian in their doctrine).
In May 1845, the Baptist congregations in the United States split over slavery and missions. The Home Mission Society prevented slaveholders from being appointed as missionaries. The split created the Southern Baptist Convention, while the northern congregations formed their own umbrella organization now called the American Baptist Churches USA (ABC-USA). The Methodist Episcopal Church, South had recently separated over the issue of slavery, and southern Presbyterians would do so shortly thereafter.
In 2015, Baptists in the U.S. number 50 million people and constitute roughly one-third of American Protestants.
Baptist origins in UkraineSee also: Baptists in UkraineThe Baptist churches in Ukraine were preceded by the German Anabaptist and Mennonite communities, who had been living in the south of Ukraine since the 16th century, and who practiced adult believers baptism. The first Baptist baptism (adult baptism by full immersion) in Ukraine took place in 1864 on the river Inhul in the Yelizavetgrad region (now Kropyvnytskyi region), in a German settlement. In 1867, the first Baptist communities were organized in that area. From there, the Baptist movement spread across the south of Ukraine and then to other regions as well. One of the first Baptist communities was registered in Kyiv in 1907, and in 1908 the First All-Russian Convention of Baptists was held there, as Ukraine was still controlled by the Russian Empire. The All-Russian Union of Baptists was established in the town of Yekaterinoslav (now Dnipro) in Southern Ukraine. At the end of the 19th century, estimates are that there were between 100,000 and 300,000 Baptists in Ukraine. An independent All-Ukrainian Baptist Union of Ukraine was established during the brief period of Ukraine's independence in early 20th-century, and once again after the fall of the Soviet Union, the largest of which is currently known as the Evangelical Baptist Union of Ukraine.
Missionary organizationsMissionary organizations favored the development of the movement on all continents. In England there was the founding of the BMS World Mission in 1792 at Kettering, England. In United States, there was the founding of International Ministries in 1814 and International Mission Board in 1845.
Baptist Hospital Mutengene (Tiko), member of the Cameroon Baptist Convention.Many churches are members of a national and international denomination for a cooperative relationship in common organizations, for the mission and social areas, such as humanitarian aid, schools, theological institutes and hospitals. There also are a substantial number of cooperative groups. In 1905, the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) was formed by 24 Baptist denominations from various countries. The BWA's goals include caring for the needy, leading in world evangelism and defending human rights and religious freedom.
Finally, there are Independent Baptist churches that choose to remain independent of any denomination, organization, or service at the Église Baptiste le Rocher of Lomé, member of the Togo Baptist Convention.
Worship service at Crossway Baptist Church in Melbourne, affiliated with Australian Baptist Ministries, 2008.
Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary, affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Hong Kong, 2008.StatisticsAccording to a Baptist World Alliance census released in 2023, the largest Baptist denomination in the world, it would regroup 246 Baptist denominations members in 128 countries, 176,000 churches and 51,000,000 baptized members. These statistics are not fully representative, however, since some churches in the United States have dual or triple national Baptist affiliation, causing a church and its members to be counted by more than one Baptist denomination. 
In 2010, 100 million Christians identify themselves as Baptist or belong to Baptist-type churches. In 2020, according to the researcher Sébastien Fath of the CNRS, the movement would have around 170 million believers in the world.
Among the censuses carried out by the Baptist denominations in 2023, those which claimed the most members on each continent were:
In North America, the Southern Baptist Convention with 47,198 churches and 13,223,122 members, the National Baptist Convention, USA with 21,145 churches and 8,415,100 members.
In South America, the Brazilian Baptist Convention with 9,070 churches and 1,797,597 members, the Evangelical Baptist Convention of Argentina with 670 churches and 85,000 members.
In Africa, the Nigerian Baptist Convention with 14,523 churches and 8,925,000 members, the Baptist Convention of Tanzania with 1,350 churches and 2,680,000 members, the Baptist Community of the Congo River with 2,673 churches and 1,764,155 members.
In Asia, the Myanmar Baptist Convention with 5,337 churches and 1,013,499 members, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council with 1,661 churches and 648,096 members, the Garo Baptist Convention with 2,619 and 333,908 members, the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches with 1,079 churches and 600,000 members.
In Europe, the All-Ukrainian Union of Churches of Evangelical Christian Baptists with 2,192 churches and 105,189 members, the Baptist Union of Great Britain with 1,897 churches and 99,475 members, the Union of Christian Baptist Churches in Romania with 1,697 churches and 83,853 members.
In Oceania, the Australian Baptist Ministries with 1,024 churches and 87,555 members, the Baptist Union of Papua New Guinea with 493 churches and 84,700 members.
Qualification for membershipMembership policies vary due to the autonomy of churches, but generally an individual becomes a member of a church through believer's baptism (which is a public profession of faith in Jesus, followed by immersion baptism).
Most baptists do not believe that baptism is a requirement for salvation, but rather a public expression of one's inner repentance and faith. Therefore, some churches will admit into membership persons who make a profession without believer's baptism.
In general, Baptist churches do not have a stated age restriction on membership, but believer's baptism requires that an individual be able to freely and earnestly profess their faith. (See Age of Accountability)
Baptist beliefsMain articles: Baptist beliefs and List of Baptist confessions of faithSince the early days of the Baptist movement, various denominations have adopted common confessions of faith as the basis for cooperative work among churches. Each church has a particular confession of faith and a common confession of faith if it is a member of a denomination. Some historically significant Baptist doctrinal documents include the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1742 Philadelphia Baptist Confession, the 1833 New Hampshire Baptist Confession of Faith, and written church covenants which some individual Baptist churches adopt as a statement of their faith and beliefs.
Baptist theology shares many doctrines with evangelical theology. It is based on believers' Church doctrine.
Baptists, like other Christians, are defined by school of thought—some of it common to all orthodox and evangelical groups and a portion of it distinctive to Baptists. Through the years, different Baptist groups have issued confessions of faith—without considering them to be creeds—to express their particular doctrinal distinctions in comparison to other Christians as well as in comparison to other Baptists. Baptist denominations are traditionally seen as belonging to two parties, General Baptists who uphold Arminian theology and Particular Baptists who uphold Reformed theology. During the holiness movement, some General Baptists accepted the teaching of a second work of grace and formed denominations that emphasized this belief, such as the Ohio Valley Association of the Christian Baptist Churches of God and the Holiness Baptist Association. Most Baptists are evangelical in doctrine, but their beliefs may vary due to the congregational governance system that gives autonomy to individual local Baptist churches. Historically, Baptists have played a key role in encouraging religious freedom and separation of church and state.
Shared doctrines would include beliefs about one God; the virgin birth; miracles; atonement for sins through the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus; the Trinity; the need for salvation (through belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, his death and resurrection); grace; the Kingdom of God; last things (eschatology) (Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth, the dead will be raised, and Christ will judge everyone in righteousness); and evangelism and missions.
Most Baptists hold that no church or ecclesiastical organization has inherent authority over a Baptist church. Churches can properly relate to each other under this polity only through voluntary cooperation, never by any sort of coercion. Furthermore, this Baptist polity calls for freedom from governmental control.
Exceptions to this local form of local governance include a few churches that submit to the leadership of a body of elders, as well as the Episcopal Baptists that have an Episcopal system.
Baptists generally believe in the literal Second Coming of Christ. Beliefs among Baptists regarding the "end times" include amillennialism, dispensationalism, and historic premillennialism, with views such as postmillennialism and preterism receiving some support.
Some additional distinctive Baptist principles held by many Baptists:: 2
The supremacy of the canonical Scriptures as a norm of faith and practice. For something to become a matter of faith and practice, it is not sufficient for it to be merely consistent with and not contrary to scriptural principles. It must be something explicitly ordained through command or example in the Bible. For instance, this is why Baptists do not practice infant baptism—they say the Bible neither commands nor exemplifies infant baptism as a Christian practice. More than any other Baptist principle, this one when applied to infant baptism is said to separate Baptists from other evangelical Christians.Baptists believe that faith is a matter between God and the individual (religious freedom). To them it means the advocacy of absolute liberty of conscience.Insistence on immersion believer's baptism as the only mode of baptism. Baptists do not believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. Therefore, for Baptists, baptism is an ordinance, not a sacrament, since, in their view, it imparts no saving grace.Beliefs that vary among BaptistsSee also: General Baptists, Bapticostal movement, and Regular Baptists
Church sign indicating that the congregation uses the Authorized King James Version of the Bible of 1611.Since there is no hierarchical authority and each Baptist church is autonomous, there is no official set of Baptist theological beliefs. These differences exist both among associations, and even among churches within the associations.
Some doctrinal issues on which there is widespread difference among Baptists are:
EschatologyArminianism versus Calvinism (General Baptists uphold Arminian theology while Particular Baptists teach Calvinist theology).The doctrine of separation from "the world" and whether to associate with those who are "of the world"Belief in a second work of grace, i.e. entire sanctification (held by General Baptists in the Holiness tradition)Speaking-in-tongues and the operation of other charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit in the charismatic churchesHow the Bible should be interpreted (hermeneutics)The extent to which missionary boards should be used to support misThe Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression in the United States. It succeeded the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937).
The FSA is famous for its small but highly influential photography program, 1935–44, that portrayed the challenges of rural poverty. The photographs in the FSA/Office of War Information Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed for most of its existence by Roy Stryker, who guided the effort in a succession of government agencies: the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937), the Farm Security Administration (1937–1942), and the Office of War Information (1942–1944). The collection also includes photographs acquired from other governmental and nongovernmental sources, including the News Bureau at the Offices of Emergency Management (OEM), various branches of the military, and industrial corporations.
In total, the black-and-white portion of the collection consists of about 175,000 black-and-white film negatives, encompassing both negatives that were printed for FSA-OWI use and those that were not printed at the time. Color transparencies also made by the FSA/OWI are available in a separate section of the catalog: FSA/OWI Color Photographs.
The FSA stressed "rural rehabilitation" efforts to improve the lifestyle of very poor landowning farmers, and a program to purchase submarginal land owned by poor farmers and resettle them in group farms on land more suitable for efficient farming.
Reactionary critics, including the Farm Bureau, strongly opposed the FSA as an alleged experiment in collectivizing agriculture—that is, in bringing farmers together to work on large government-owned farms using modern techniques under the supervision of experts. After the Conservative coalition took control of Congress, it transformed the FSA into a program to help poor farmers buy land, and that program continues to operate in the 21st century as the Farmers Home Administration.
Walker Evans portrait of Allie Mae Burroughs (1936)
Arthur Rothstein photograph "Dust Bowl Cimarron County, Oklahoma" of a farmer and two sons during a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma (1936)
Dorothea Lange photograph of an Arkansas squatter of three years near Bakersfield, California (1935)The projects that were combined in 1935 to form the Resettlement Administration (RA) started in 1933 as an assortment of programs tried out by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The RA was headed by Rexford Tugwell, an economic advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, Tugwell's goal moving 650,000 people into 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2) of exhausted, worn-out land was unpopular among the majority in Congress. This goal seemed socialistic to some and threatened to deprive powerful farm proprietors of their tenant workforce. The RA was thus left with only enough resources to relocate a few thousand people from 9 million acres (36,000 km2) and build several greenbelt cities, which planners admired as models for a cooperative future that never arrived.
The main focus of the RA was to now build relief camps in California for migratory workers, especially refugees from the drought-stricken Dust Bowl of the Southwest. This move was resisted by a large share of Californians, who did not want destitute migrants to settle in their midst. The RA managed to construct 95 camps that gave migrants unaccustomed clean quarters with running water and other amenities, but the 75,000 people who had the benefit of these camps were a small share of those in need and could only stay temporarily. After facing enormous criticism for his poor management of the RA, Tugwell resigned in 1936. On January 1, 1937, with hopes of making the RA more effective, the RA was transferred to the Department of Agriculture through executive order 7530.
On July 22, 1937, Congress passed the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act. This law authorized a modest credit program to assist tenant farmers to purchase land, and it was the culmination of a long effort to secure legislation for their benefit. Following the passage of the act, Congress passed the Farm Security Act into law. The Farm Security Act officially transformed the RA into the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The FSA expanded through funds given by the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act.
Relief workOne of the activities performed by the RA and FSA was the buying out of small farms that were not economically viable, and the setting up of 34 subsistence homestead communities, in which groups of farmers lived together under the guidance of government experts and worked a common area. They were not allowed to purchase their farms for fear that they would fall back into inefficient practices not guided by RA and FSA experts.
The Dust Bowl in the Great Plains displaced thousands of tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and laborers, many of whom (known as "Okies" or "Arkies") moved on to California. The FSA operated camps for them, such as Weedpatch Camp as depicted in The Grapes of Wrath.
The RA and the FSA gave educational aid to 455,000 farm families during the period 1936-1943. In June, 1936, Roosevelt wrote: "You are right about the farmers who suffer through their own fault... I wish you would have a talk with Tugwell about what he is doing to educate this type of farmer to become self-sustaining. During the past year, his organization has made 104,000 farm families practically self-sustaining by supervision and education along practical lines. That is a pretty good record!"
The FSA's primary mission was not to aid farm production or prices. Roosevelt's agricultural policy had, in fact, been to try to decrease agricultural production to increase prices. When production was discouraged, though, the tenant farmers and small holders suffered most by not being able to ship enough to market to pay rents. Many renters wanted money to buy farms, but the Agriculture Department realized there already were too many farmers, and did not have a program for farm purchases. Instead, they used education to help the poor stretch their money further. Congress, however, demanded that the FSA help tenant farmers purchase farms, and purchase loans of $191 million were made, which were eventually repaid. A much larger program was $778 million in loans (at effective rates of about 1% interest) to 950,000 tenant farmers. The goal was to make the farmer more efficient so the loans were used for new machinery, trucks, or animals, or to repay old debts. At all times, the borrower was closely advised by a government agent. Family needs were on the agenda, as the FSA set up a health insurance program and taught farm wives how to cook and raise children. Upward of a third of the amount was never repaid, as the tenants moved to much better opportunities in the cities.
The FSA was also one of the authorities administering relief efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico during the Great Depression. Between 1938 and 1945, under the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, it oversaw the purchase of 590 farms with the intent of distributing land to working and middle-class Puerto Ricans.
ModernizationThe FSA resettlement communities appear in the literature as efforts to ameliorate the wretched condition of southern sharecroppers and tenants, but those evicted to make way for the new settlers are virtually invisible in the historic record. The resettlement projects were part of larger efforts to modernize rural America. The removal of former tenants and their replacement by FSA clients in the lower Mississippi alluvial plain—the Delta—reveals core elements of New Deal modernizing policies. The key concepts that guided the FSA's tenant removals were: the definition of rural poverty as rooted in the problem of tenancy; the belief that economic success entailed particular cultural practices and social forms; and the commitment by those with political power to gain local support. These assumptions undergirded acceptance of racial segregation and the criteria used to select new settlers. Alternatives could only become visible through political or legal action—capacities sharecroppers seldom had. In succeeding decades, though, these modernizing assumptions created conditions for Delta African Americans on resettlement projects to challenge white supremacy.
FSA and its contribution to societyThe documentary photography genre describes photographs that would work as a time capsule for evidence in the future or a certain method that a person can use for a frame of reference. Facts presented in a photograph can speak for themselves after the viewer gets time to analyze it. The motto of the FSA was simply, as Beaumont Newhall insists, "not to inform us, but to move us." Those photographers wanted the government to move and give a hand to the people, as they were completely neglected and overlooked, thus they decided to start taking photographs in a style that we today call "documentary photography." The FSA photography has been influential due to its realist point of view, and because it works as a frame of reference and an educational tool from which later generations could learn. Society has benefited and will benefit from it for more years to come, as this photography can unveil the ambiguous and question the conditions that are taking place.
Photography programThe RA and FSA are well known for the influence of their photography program, 1935–1944. Photographers and writers were hired to report and document the plight of poor farmers. The Information Division (ID) of the FSA was responsible for providing educational materials and press information to the public. Under Roy Stryker, the ID of the FSA adopted a goal of "introducing America to Americans." Many of the most famous Depression-era photographers were fostered by the FSA project. Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks were three of the most famous FSA alumni. The FSA was also cited in Gordon Parks' autobiographical novel, A Choice of Weapons.
The FSA's photography was one of the first large-scale visual documentations of the lives of African-Americans. These images were widely disseminated through the Twelve Million Black Voices collection, published in October 1941, which combined FSA photographs selected by Edwin Rosskam and text by author and poet Richard Wright.
PhotographersFifteen photographers (ordered by year of hire) would produce the bulk of work on this project. Their diverse, visual documentation elevated government's mission from the "relocation" tactics of a Resettlement Administration to strategic solutions which would depend on America recognizing rural and already poor Americans, facing death by depression and dust. FSA photographers: Arthur Rothstein (1935), Theodor Jung (1935), Ben Shahn (1935), Walker Evans (1935), Dorothea Lange (1935), Carl Mydans (1935), Russell Lee (1936), Marion Post Wolcott (1936), John Vachon (1936, photo assignments began in 1938), Jack Delano (1940), John Collier (1941), Marjory Collins (1941), Louise Rosskam (1941), Gordon Parks (1942) and Esther Bubley (1942).
With America's entry into World War II, FSA would focus on a different kind of relocation as orders were issued for internment of Japanese Americans. FSA photographers would be transferred to the Office of War Information during the last years of the war and completely disbanded at the war's end. Photographers like Howard R. Hollem, Alfred T. Palmer, Arthur Siegel and OWI's Chief of Photographers John Rous were working in OWI before FSA's reorganization there. As a result of both teams coming under one unit name, these other individuals are sometimes associated with RA-FSA's pre-war images of American life. Though collectively credited with thousands of Library of Congress images, military ordered, positive-spin assignments like these four received starting in 1942, should be separately considered from pre-war, depression triggered imagery. FSA photographers were able to take time to study local circumstances and discuss editorial approaches with each other before capturing that first image. Each one talented in her or his own right, equal credit belongs to Roy Stryker who recognized, hired and empowered that talent.
John Collier Jr.John Collier Jr.
Jack DelanoJack Delano
Walker EvansWalker Evans
Dorothea LangeDorothea Lange
Russell LeeRussell Lee
Carl MydansCarl Mydans
Gordon ParksGordon Parks
Arthur RothsteinArthur Rothstein
John VachonJohn Vachon
Marion Post WolcottMarion Post Wolcott
These 15 photographers, some shown above, all played a significant role, not only in producing images for this project, but also in molding the resulting images in the final project through conversations held between the group members. The photographers produced images that breathed a humanistic social visual catalyst of the sort found in novels, theatrical productions, and music of the time. Their images are now regarded as a "national treasure" in the United States, which is why this project is regarded as a work of art.Photograph of Chicago's rail yards by Jack Delano, circa 1943Together with John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (not a government project) and documentary prose (for example Walker Evans and James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men), the FSA photography project is most responsible for creating the image of the Depression in the United States. Many of the images appeared in popular magazines. The photographers were under instruction from Washington, DC, as to what overall impression the New Deal wanted to portray. Stryker's agenda focused on his faith in social engineering, the poor conditions among tenant cotton farmers, and the very poor conditions among migrant farm workers; above all, he was committed to social reform through New Deal intervention in people's lives. Stryker demanded photographs that "related people to the land and vice versa" because these photographs reinforced the RA's position that poverty could be controlled by "changing land practices." Though Stryker did not dictate to his photographers how they should compose the shots, he did send them lists of desirable themes, for example, "church", "court day", and "barns". Stryker sought photographs of migratory workers that would tell a story about how they lived day-to-day. He asked Dorothea Lange to emphasize cooking, sleeping, praying, and socializing. RA-FSA made 250,000 images of rural poverty. Fewer than half of those images survive and are housed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. The library has placed all 164,000 developed negatives online. From these, some 77,000 different finished photographic prints were originally made for the press, plus 644 color images, from 1600 negatives.
Documentary filmsThe RA also funded two documentary films by Pare Lorentz: The Plow That Broke the Plains, about the creation of the Dust Bowl, and The River, about the importance of the Mississippi River. The films were deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
World War II activitiesDuring World War II, the FSA was assigned to work under the purview of the Wartime Civil Control Administration, a subagency of the War Relocation Authority. These agencies were responsible for relocating Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast to Internment camps. The FSA controlled the agricultural part of the evacuation. Starting in March 1942 they were responsible for transferring the farms owned and operated by Japanese Americans to alternate operators. They were given the dual mandate of ensuring fair compensation for Japanese Americans, and for maintaining correct use of the agricultural land. During this period, Lawrence Hewes Jr was the regional director and in charge of these activities.
Reformers ousted; Farmers Home AdministrationAfter the war started and millions of factory jobs in the cities were unfilled, no need for FSA remained. In late 1942, Roosevelt moved the housing programs to the National Housing Agency, and in 1943, Congress greatly reduced FSA's activities. The photographic unit was subsumed by the Office of War Information for one year, then disbanded. Finally in 1946, all the social reformers had left and FSA was replaced by a new agency, the Farmers Home Administration, which had the goal of helping finance farm purchases by tenants—and especially by war veterans—with no personal oversight by experts. It became part of Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty in the 1960s, with a greatly expanded budget to facilitate loans to low-income rural families and cooperatives, injecting $4.2 billion into rural America.
The Great DepressionThe Great Depression began in August 1929, when the United States economy first went into an economic recession. Although the country spent two months with declining GDP, the effects of a declining economy were not felt until the Wall Street Crash in October 1929, and a major worldwide economic downturn ensued.
Although its causes are still uncertain and controversial, the net effect was a sudden and general loss of confidence in the economic future and a reduction in living standards for most ordinary Americans. The market crash highlighted a decade of high unemployment, poverty, low profits for industrial firms, deflation, plunging farm incomes, and lost opportunities for economic growth.
SCARCE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR 1947 PROGRAM EBENEZER CHURCH PHOTOS CIIVL RIGHTS: