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Article

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

minister, civil rights activist, and close adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. An Alabama native, Abernathy was one of twelve children born to successful farmers who had managed to rise from sharecropping to owning a five-hundred-acre farm. Abernathy's father was a deacon in a local church, and from a young age Abernathy wanted to join the ministry. He became an ordained Baptist minister in 1948. In 1950 he received a BS in mathematics from Alabama State University. He began what became a career in political activism while in college by leading demonstrations to protest the poor quality of food in the campus cafeteria and the lack of heat and hot water in campus housing. While in college he became interested in sociology, and he earned an MA in the subject from Atlanta University in 1951.

Abernathy became pastor of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery ...

Article

Kerima M. Lewis

The African American members of the First Baptist Church in New York City withdrew their membership in 1808 when they were subjected to racially segregated seating. With Ethiopian merchants they organized their own church, called “Abyssinian” after the merchants’ nation of origin. The church was located at 44 Anthony Street, and the Reverend Vanvelser was its first pastor. Abyssinian numbered three hundred members in 1827 when slavery ended in New York. The Reverends William Spellman, Robert D. Wynn, and Charles Satchell Morris served as pastors during the church's early history. By 1902 the church was a renowned place of worship with more than sixteen hundred members.

The appointment of the Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Sr. in 1908 ushered in a new era of the church's history. His pastorate was devoted to spiritual and financial development. In 1920 he acquired property in Harlem and then oversaw the building ...

Article

Howard Schweber

The phrase affirmative action was first used by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, in an executive order that prohibited federal government contractors from discriminating on the basis of “race, creed, color, or national origin,” and required them “to take affirmative action” to prevent such discrimination. The concept and its primary justification were further developed by President Lyndon Johnson, most famously in a speech at Howard University in 1965 F reedom is not enough You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying Now you are free to go where you want do as you desire and choose the leaders you please You do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say You are free to compete with all the others and still justly ...

Article

Dolores E. Battle and Michelle Brown Douglas

The concept of affirmative action in America has been explored by sociologists, philosophers, legal scholars, journalists, and politicians. Although less than 2 percent of the 91,000 employment discrimination cases pending before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are reverse discrimination cases, those opposed to affirmative action programs frequently cite reverse discrimination and so-called quotas as having a negative impact on the professional and educational lives of white males. Politicians have either opposed or supported affirmative action programs. Few have viewed affirmative action from its original purpose, which was to take affirmative steps to incorporate minorities and women into the workforce. In examining the impact of affirmative action on women in America, it is necessary to review the history of equality for all persons in the United States and the underrepresentation of persons from minority groups and of women in the workforce in America.

Beginning with the Civil Rights Act of ...

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Article

Kate Tuttle

In the history of South Africa, no group is more identified with the struggle against Apartheid—the system of racial segregation instituted by the country's former white-minority government—than the African National Congress (ANC). Many groups participated in the country's Antiapartheid Movement, but it was the ANC’s Nelson Mandela who, through negotiations with the ruling National Party, finally brought about apartheid's demise. In South Africa's first free elections in 1994, the ANC won the majority of legislative seats and the presidency. From its founding in 1912 by middle class college educated black South Africans the ANC has grown from an interest group to a protest movement and finally to the instrument of freedom for South Africa s black majority Although the organization has undergone periods of considerable internal dissent it has proven capable of compromise and growth and has consistently embraced a vision of equality for ...

Article

Alabama  

Wesley Borucki

In 1819 Alabama was the twenty-second state admitted to the Union. Alabama has long been a hub of the African American struggle for civil rights. After the Civil War, the formerly enslaved faced intimidation at the polls despite the assurances of the Alabama supreme court chief justice Elisha Woolsey Peck that the rights promised them in Alabama's 1868 constitution would be enforced. Robert Jefferson Norrell opens his book Reaping the Whirlwind with an account of how the African American Republican state legislator James Alston saw his house fired upon twice; he left Tuskegee in 1870 (pp. 3–4). Even under these hostile circumstances, however, the African Americans Benjamin Turner, James Rapier, and Jeremiah Haralson served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the 1870s.

When Democrats regained control of Alabama's legislature and governorship in 1874 public schools were separate but far from equal As Horace Mann Bond demonstrated ...

Article

Bertis English

Like most historically black colleges and universities in the United States, Alabama State University was created in the wake of the Civil War. In 1865, a convalescing Union soldier from the North began to educate former slaves outside Marion, the county seat of Perry County, in the racially divided and often violent Black Belt subregion of Alabama. The following year, the soldier contacted the Congregationalist-headed American Missionary Association (AMA), whose leaders wanted to found black common schools in several Southern states. Consequently, AMA officials sent an agent and minister from New York named Thomas Steward to the Alabama Black Belt.

Reverend Steward arrived in Perry County in January 1867 By this time several leading blacks and a handful of prominent whites in the county had already tried to erect a black common school in Marion Following their lead Steward created a small school in a partly finished Methodist ...

Article

Tia L. Gafford

The Albany Movement began in Georgia in the fall of 1961 and ended in the summer of 1962. It was considered one of the first mass movements in the twentieth-century civil rights movement whose goal was to desegregate an entire community; the authorities jailed more than one thousand African Americans in Albany, Georgia, and its surrounding counties. In December 1961 Martin Luther King Jr. was drawn into the movement as hundreds of black protesters, including King, were arrested in one week. Eight months later King left Albany, having admitted that he had failed to accomplish the movement's goals. As part of the history of the civil rights movement, Albany was a significant lesson King learned and later applied successfully in Birmingham, Alabama.

Article

Alexis D. McCoy

Originally founded as an institution to educate “Negro males,” Alcorn State University eventually evolved to become the primary coed institution of higher education for black students in the state of Mississippi. Named to honor the governor at the time of its founding, James L. Alcorn, the university is located in Lorman, Mississippi. Established on 13 May 1871 through the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 and an act by the Mississippi state legislature, Alcorn holds the distinctions of being the oldest land-grant university in Mississippi and the oldest historically black land-grant university in the United States. During its long history Alcorn has undergone three name changes: originally it was Alcorn University, in 1878 it became Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College, and then in 1974 it became Alcorn State University.

Alcorn occupies the site where Oakland College originally existed. Oakland, founded in 1828 was a Presbyterian school devoted to ...

Article

Peter A. Kuryla

An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, the Swedish social scientist Gunnar Myrdal's study of race relations in the United States, had remarkable influence after it appeared in 1944. The Supreme Court, for example, cited Myrdal's work with approval in the 1954Brown v. Board of Education decision. Within the national government, social engineers crafted ameliorative, race-based policy from Dilemma's prescriptions. For decades American liberals found its optimism congenial to much of their thinking. The word “dilemma” became linguistic coin of the realm, a liberal shorthand for America whenever cast in racial relief. The study helped create what many scholars came to call a “liberal orthodoxy” on race among social scientists, a perspective that dominated American social thought from the end of World War II until the mid-1960s.

The Carnegie Foundation sponsored and funded the study The original proposal for a comprehensive study of the ...

Article

Claudia Durst Johnson

Born in Philadelphia, Anderson sang in a church choir and at age nineteen began formal voice training. At twenty-three, she made her debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. She later toured in concert in many European and South American capitals. Her foreign acclaim prompted an invitation to tour in the United States, where for two decades she was in demand as a performer of opera and spirituals. In 1939, because she was an African American, Anderson was barred by the Daughters of the American Revolution from performing in Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., an event that exposed the depth of racism in America. Her open-air Lincoln Memorial concert that Easter, arranged by Eleanor Roosevelt and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, drew an audience of 75,000 and was broadcast nationally. On 7 January 1955 Anderson became the first African American to sing with the ...

Article

Atlanta  

Timothy J. Crimmins

In 1900, Atlanta was the forty-third largest city in the United States with a population of almost ninety thousand, 40 percent of which was African American. Three southern cities at the time were larger than Atlanta—the river cities of New Orleans, Louisville, and Memphis. Over the course of the twentieth century, Atlanta's explosive growth—first as a railroad crossroads and later as an air and automobile/trucking center—outpaced that of its regional rivals as it became the ninth-largest metropolitan area and the unofficial center of the civil rights movement in the United States.

Living in the city in 1900 was W. E. B. Du Bois, a professor at Atlanta University who had come in 1897 to undertake the scientific study of the American Negro. From 1898 to 1914, Du Bois edited the Atlanta University Publications, annual assessments of African American life and institutions. In 1903 he published a ...

Article

Winston A. Grady-Willis

In February 1966 the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) formally launched an experiment in urban field organizing in the Vine City neighborhood of Atlanta. Initially called the Vine City Project, it quickly became known as the Atlanta Project. It began as an informal organizing initiative to mobilize support for SNCC activist Julian Bond's campaign for the Georgia state legislature. In a matter of weeks, however, the scope of the project grew rapidly under co-directors Gwendolyn Robinson (Zoharah Simmons) and Bill Ware, both veteran SNCC activists with prior leadership experience in frontline human rights struggles in the Deep South. Robinson and Ware—along with other Project activists, including Michael Simmons, Larry Fox, and Donald Stone—argued that work in rural Georgia held little value without concomitant organizing in the state's capital. The group established a newspaper, Nitty Gritty began neighborhood organizing sparked the black consciousness movement within SNCC ...

Article

Thomas E. Carney

From 1896 to the early twenty-first century, African Americans in Baltimore, Maryland, faced many of the same challenges as other African Americans throughout the United States. Nevertheless, African American Baltimoreans coalesced into a strong, vibrant community that beat down much of the bigotry and racial prejudice that surrounded them.

In the final decade of the nineteenth century, the city of Baltimore was an unusual combination of northern industrial interests and southern (often bigoted) traditions. African Americans made up 15 percent of the population of the city in 1890, and they made their presence felt. In 1890, Harry Sythe Cummings, a black who graduated from the Maryland Law School before segregation denied entry to African Americans, was elected councilman from the Eleventh Ward. He was followed in 1895 by Dr. J. Marcus Cargill, who was also elected to city council.

The African American community was led by ...

Article

Thomas E. Carney

The Baltimore Afro-American, first published in 1893, was the second-oldest African American newspaper in the United States at the beginning of the twenty-first century and has been owned and operated by John H. Murphy Sr. and his descendants for most of its history. Throughout the years it pressed for racial reform on the local, national, and international levels. In its early years it campaigned for and fostered the development of an African American middle class as it fought to open positions in local, state, and federal governments to African Americans.

The first edition of the Afro-American appeared on 13 August 1893. The paper went bankrupt in 1896, and in 1897 it came into the hands of Murphy, who controlled the paper until his death in 1922. Murphy, a former slave and a Civil War veteran, had previously managed the Afro-American s printing department In ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann and Jill Dupont

[This entry includes two subentries, on the Negro Leagues and on integrated professional baseball.]

Article

Donald Roe

Officials at the International Young Men's Christian Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts asked Dr. James Naismith, a physical education teacher, to come up with an indoor activity for winter that would reduce rowdy behavior among its students, as well as keep them in shape during the winter. As a result, in 1891 Naismith created basketball as an indoor sport. It did not take long for basketball to become popular. Although it is not known exactly when African Americans began playing basketball, it is probable that the sport had already reached many black communities in the early 1900s, especially in the YMCAs, YWCAs, and athletic clubs in the North. Several blacks—most notably Dr. Edwin B. Henderson the chief of physical education in the District of Columbia for what was then called the Colored School Division were active at the turn of the twentieth century in making basketball ...

Article

Charles Orson Cook

one of the twentieth-century South's most consistent and effective civil rights leaders, perhaps best remembered for her role in the desegregation of Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High School in 1957–1958. Her name has become synonymous with racial integration, and her memoir The Long Shadow of Little Rock (1962) has emerged as one of the standard texts on the subject.

Although accounts vary, she was born Daisy Lee Gaston, probably in 1913 in Huttig Arkansas a small mill town in the southeastern part of the state near the border with Louisiana Her childhood memories are dotted with several episodes of racial discrimination but her recollection that she grew up with foster parents because her mother had died while resisting the assault of white rapists her father subsequently left town and her life left an indelible and horrific mark on her psyche Though her recollections have never been ...

Article

Robert Fay

Born in Huttig, Arkansas, Daisy Bates never knew her parents. Her mother was killed by three white men after she resisted their sexual advances; her father left town, fearing reprisals if he sought to prosecute those responsible. Orlee and Susie Smith, friends of Bates's parents, adopted her. In 1941 she married L. C. Bates, a journalist. They moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and established a newspaper, the Arkansas State Press. It became the leading African American newspaper in the state and a powerful voice in the Civil Rights Movement.

As president of the Arkansas state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Bates coordinated the efforts to integrate Little Rock's public schools after the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawed segregated public schools in 1954 Nine African American students the Little Rock Nine were admitted ...