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Civil Rights Act of 1964

In the 1960s, Americans who knew only the potential of “equal protection of the laws” expected the president, the Congress, and the courts to fulfill the promise of the 14th Amendment. In response, all three branches of the federal government–as well as the public at large–debated a fundamental constitutional question: Does the Constitution’s prohibition of denying equal protection always ban the use of racial, ethnic, or gender criteria in an attempt to bring social justice and social benefits? Continue Reading »

Randolph, A. Phillip

A. Philip Randolph: Founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Chair of the Committee that Organized the 1963 “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”Continue Reading »

Rustin, Bayard (1912-1987)

Bayard Rustin: Trade Union and Civil Rights Organizer and ActivistContinue Reading »

The Fight for Equal Rights: Black Soldiers in the Civil War

By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army and another 19,000 served in the Navy. Nearly 40,000 black soldiers died over the course of the war—30,000 of infection or disease. Black soldiers served in artillery and infantry and performed all noncombat support functions that sustain an army, as well. Black carpenters, chaplains, cooks, guards, laborers, nurses, scouts, spies, steamboat pilots, surgeons, and teamsters also contributed to the war cause. There were nearly 80 black commissioned officers. Black women, who could not formally join the Army, nonetheless served as nurses, spies, and scouts, the most famous being Harriet Tubman, who scouted for the 2d South Carolina Volunteers.Continue Reading »

Emancipation Proclamation: January 1st, 1863

Although January 1st, 1863, is the date most Americans identify as the day the Emancipation Proclamation officially took effect, the ideals of the Proclamation had been carefully contemplated by President Lincoln many months before.Continue Reading »

Farmville Protests of 1963

Written by Kate Agnelli, MSW. “One of the most well-known Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history, Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation in public schools unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. One of the provisions of the decision was that public schools in the United States were to integrate ‘with all deliberate speed,’ but in many places, local and state governments resisted for months and years.”Continue Reading »

Wells-Barnett, Ida B.

Incensed by the murder of her friends, Wells launched an extensive investigation of lynching. In 1892, she published a pamphlet, “Southern Horrors,” which detailed her findings. Through her lectures and books such as A Red Record (1895), Wells countered the “rape myth” used by lynch mobs to justify the murder of African Americans. Through her research she found that lynch victims had challenged white authority or had successfully competed with whites in business or politics. As a result of her outspokenness, a mob destroyed the offices of the Free Speech and threatened to kill Wells. Continue Reading »

Congress of Racial Equality

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) pioneered direct nonviolent action in the 1940s before playing a major part in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Founded by an interracial group of pacifists at the University of Chicago in 1942, CORE used nonviolent tactics to challenge segregation in Northern cities during the 1940s. Members staged sit-ins at Chicago area restaurants and challenged restrictive housing covenants. Early expansion beyond the University of Chicago brought students from across the Midwest into the organization, and whites made up a majority of the membership into the early 1960s. Continue Reading »

We Do Our Part–But… (1933)

Article by Ira DeA. Reid in Opportunity, Journal of Negro Life (September, 1933). “Three million Negro workers, more than half of the total number of Negroes who must labor for their livelihood, will not be covered by the industrial codes now being formulated by the NRA!”Continue Reading »

White, Walter F.

By 1931 White had become executive secretary, the highest position in the association. During his tenure, the NAACP led the fight for anti-lynching legislation, and initiated trailblazing legal battles to eliminate all-white primaries, poll taxes and de jure segregation….Working with labor leader A. Philip Randolph, White in 1941 helped persuade President Franklin D. Roosevelt to issue Executive Order 8802 which prohibited racial discrimination in defense industries and established the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), the first Federal agency to monitor compliance with anti-discrimination measures.Continue Reading »

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