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Affirmative Action  

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

African National Congress  

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

Alabama State University  

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

Alexander, Avery C.  

Nathan Zook

minister, civil rights leader, and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, was born Avery Caesar Alexander in the town of Houma in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, to a family of sharecroppers. The names of his parents are not known. Seventeen years later, his family moved to New Orleans. Avery Alexander maintained an active life there and in Baton Rouge for the next seventy-two years.

Prior to his election to the Louisiana legislature, Alexander was employed as a longshoreman. At the same time, he pursued an education by taking night courses, receiving his high school diploma from Gilbert Academy in 1939. He became politically active by working as a labor union operative for a longshoreman's union, Local 1419. He also held the occupations of real estate broker and insurance agent.

Alexander received a degree in theology from Union Baptist Theological Seminary and became an ordained Baptist minister ...

Article

Anderson, Charles W., Jr.  

Teresa A. Booker

attorney, politician, and diplomat, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was the youngest of two children and the only son of Charles W. Anderson Sr., a physician, and Tabitha L. Murphy, a teacher.

Motivated by the high value that his parents placed on education, Charles W. Anderson Jr. entered Kentucky State College at age fifteen and attended from 1922 to 1925. He then transferred to Wilberforce University, one of the earliest universities established for African Americans. Although the reason for Anderson's transfer to Wilberforce University during the penultimate year of his undergraduate career is unclear, it is likely that he, like other black Kentuckians, was forced to pursue higher education outside of the state because of the still-standing Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 authorizing separate but equal educational facilities Higher educational institutions for blacks did not exist in Kentucky and rather than wait for them ...

Article

Barbee, Lloyd Augustus  

Lili C. Behm

politician and civil rights activist, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the youngest son of Adlena (Gilliam) and Earnest Barbee, the latter a painting contractor and the first African American member of the Tennessee state contractor's union. Lloyd Barbee became involved with the struggle for African Americans’ civil rights when he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1937 at age twelve. Though his family lived in poverty in the Depression‐era Jim Crow South, Barbee's father and uncles encouraged him to pursue higher education. After serving in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946, Barbee earned his bachelor of arts degree at Memphis's all‐black LeMoyne College in 1949, and decided to pursue legal studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Law School. He had received a scholarship to the school, and sought to leave behind virulent Southern racism.

Though he suspended his studies out ...

Article

Bell, Al  

Charles L. Hughes

record executive, producer, and activist, was born Alvertis Isbell in Brinkley, Arkansas, in 1940 or 1941. In 1945 his family moved to Little Rock, where Bell later graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the city's Philander Smith College, following this with uncompleted ministerial training; he worked as a disc jockey throughout high school and college. In 1959 Bell began working at workshops run by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His SCLC involvement was short-lived, which Bell attributed to a difference in philosophy, explaining that King's strategy of nonviolent confrontation differed from his belief in the power of black capitalist entrepreneurship in effecting social change.

Bell then worked full time at several radio stations first at WLOK in Memphis where his laid back style helped boost ratings and then at WUST in Washington D C where he introduced ...

Article

Billingsley, Orzell, Jr.  

J. D. Jackson

civil rights attorney and political activist, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. One of three sons, he attended Birmingham public schools, including the city's first and oldest, and, at one time, the South's largest African American high school, Industrial (A. H. Parker) High.

After graduating from high school Billingsley attended two highly respected, historically black institutions of higher learning. The first was Talladega College, a private liberal arts college located in Alabama, fifty miles east of Birmingham. He graduated with high honors in 1946 and headed for Washington, D.C., where he attended Howard University School of Law. He earned his law degree there in 1950. Afterward, he returned to Alabama, where he was admitted to the Alabama state bar in 1951, one of the first ten African Americans to do so.

Instantly Billingsley threw himself behind the post World War II fight for full black citizenship in America Always ...

Article

Black Codes  

Christopher Waldrep

Months after the end of the Civil War, Mississippi, followed by other southern states, began passing laws designed to control newly freed slaves through the legal system. Under slavery, whites had disciplined blacks primarily outside the law, through extralegal whippings administered by slave owners and their overseers. After emancipation, panicky whites feared that the end of plantation slavery would unleash blacks’ alleged criminality. White men feared for the safety of their wives and daughters and sought protection for their property.

While some white southerners thought African Americans were best controlled by vigilantes, others proposed using courts and the law. On 22 November 1865 the Mississippi legislature passed a law directing civil officers to hire out orphaned minor freedmen free negroes and mulattoes This law allowed moderate corporal chastisement forbade the orphans to leave their masters and made it a crime for anyone to entice an apprenticed orphan from ...

Article

Black Codes in the United States  

Gabriel Mendes

The Black Codes were instituted by Southern legislative bodies in 1865 and 1866 in response to the emancipation of the 4 million former slaves in the Southern states during and after the American Civil War (1861–1865). The Black Codes recognized the new status of African Americans as freedpeople and offered them some of the basic rights of citizenship. However, the codes also defined the freedpeople as legally subordinate to whites and attempted to manage their labor in a way that would cause minimal disruption to the labor system instituted under slavery.

Faced with a rapidly transformed political and economic structure in the postbellum South, Mississippi and South Carolina began passing laws in 1865 to limit the freedom of African Americans New vagrancy laws placed blacks in jeopardy of imprisonment or forced labor if they could not prove they were employed or self supporting Often the result was ...

Article

Bond, Julian  

Jennifer Jensen Wallach

civil rights activist, politician, and television host. The son of the prominent educator Horace Mann Bond, Horace Julian Bond spent his early years in Philadelphia, where his father was the president of Lincoln University. In 1957 the family relocated to Atlanta, where Horace Mann Bond accepted a faculty position at Atlanta University. Julian Bond attended a Quaker preparatory high school and then enrolled at Morehouse College. Although his family hoped that he would follow in his father's footsteps and become a scholar, Julian was far more interested in political protest than in his academic coursework. In 1961 he dropped out of school to work full-time in the civil rights movement, not completing his BA in English at Morehouse until 1971.

Eager to fight for desegregation in Atlanta, Bond cofounded the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (COHAR). On 15 March 1960 he was arrested ...

Article

Booker, Kinney Ibis  

Alfred L. Brophy

survivor of the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma, riot, was one of five children born to Hood Booker, a chauffeur and mechanic, and his wife. Kinney Booker graduated from the segregated Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa and from Xavier University in New Orleans. Though he was only seven years old when the Tulsa riot broke out on the evening of 31 May 1921, his recollections of the event were central to the Tulsa Race Riot Commission's discussions in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was quoted extensively in media sources about it, from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times to Nightline to National Public Radio.

The Tulsa riot began after rumors of an impending lynching of a young African American man circulated in both white and black communities in Tulsa When some African American veterans of World War I appeared at the Tulsa Courthouse ...

Article

Bophuthatswana  

Covering a total area of 44,000 sq km (16,988 sq mi), Bophuthatswana consisted of seven fragments of land scattered throughout Orange Free State, Cape Province, and Transvaal, which were three of the four provinces in South Africa at that time. Bophuthatswana, which means “that which binds the Tswana together,” was established as a so-called homeland for the Tswana people, although it had significant Pedi, Basotho, Shangaan, and Zulu minorities. Bophuthatswana’s capital was Mmabatho. The territory also included the towns of Mafikeng, Onverwacht, Phalaborwa, Phuthaditjhaba, Sun City, and Thaba Nchu. In 1994, when South Africa was divided into nine new provinces, most of Bophuthatswana was incorporated into North-West Province; the remaining fragment was included in the province of Free State.

Tswana peoples lived in the region from about the thirteenth or fourteenth century c.e.., but they lost most of their land in the nineteenth century to Afrikaner ...

Article

Botha, Pieter Willem  

Alonford James Robinson

Pieter Willem Botha was raised in a militantly nationalistic Afrikaner family in the Eastern Cape. His mother’s first husband was killed in the Boer War (1899–1902), in which his father also fought for the Boers. At an early age Botha himself became an Afrikaner nationalist, leaving the University of Orange Free State Law School in 1935 to help found the National Party. A year later he became public information officer for the party and served on the Sauer Commission, the agency that helped to formulate the National Party’s racial program.

In 1948 Botha proved instrumental in helping D. F. Malan and the National Party come to power. That year he won a seat in Parliament, representing the Eastern Cape district of George. As a reward for party loyalty, Botha was appointed to a series of cabinet positions in the apartheid-era governments of Hendrik Verwoerd and Balthazar Johannes Vorster ...

Article

Brown V. Board of education  

Paul Finkelman

In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the U.S. Supreme Court held that legally mandated racial segregation in the public schools was unconstitutional. Decided on the last day of the Supreme Court's term in May 1954, the Court found that segregation denied African American children the “equal protection of laws” in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Speaking for a unanimous Supreme Court, Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that “in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

Brown is unquestionably the most important legal case affecting African Americans in the twentieth century and one of the most important Supreme Court decisions in American constitutional history The case technically involved only segregation in the public schools Chief Justice Warren carefully limited the scope his decision to ...

Article

Brown v. Board of Education  

Brenda Gayle Plummer

Linda Brown, a black elementary-school student in Topeka, Kansas, could not attend classes near her home because state law mandated racial separation in public schools. Attorneys for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1951 filed suit in federal court on behalf of Brown and several other plaintiffs, seeking a ruling on the constitutionality of racially segregated schools. The NAACP had decided to test the prevailing legal doctrine that racially segregated schooling did not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if equal resources were provided to blacks and whites. This doctrine, embodied in the Supreme Court's 1896Plessy v. Ferguson decision, governed all aspects of domestic race relations and legitimated the pervasive segregation that banished African Americans and other racial minorities to the margins of society. The challenge to school segregation thus indirectly bucked powerful legal precedent and generations of social ...

Article

Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954); 349 U.S. 294 (1955)  

Gerald N. Rosenberg

Brown v. Board Education is generally considered one of the most important U.S. Supreme Court decisions of the twentieth century, and perhaps of all time. It is a symbol of America’s commitment to racial equality and constitutional rights (see race and ethnicity). Brown dealt with racial segregation of public schools. The plaintiffs were represented by the NAACP and its lead attorney and later the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.

On 17 May 1954, Chief Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous opinion of the Court holding racial segregation of public schools unconstitutional Chief Justice Warren s opinion made four main arguments First he wrote that the history of the Fourteenth Amendment was inconclusive as to the intent of the framers regarding school segregation Second Warren rejected earlier decisions upholding segregation stressing that the Constitution must be interpreted in light of modern conditions Third he ...

Article

Brown, Anderson Hunt  

Charles Rosenberg

plaintiff in the 1928 case, Brown v. Board of Education of Charleston [West Virginia], was born in the Union South district of Kanawha County, West Virginia, the seventh living child and fifth son of Henry and Margaret A. Brown. Henry Brown, a farm laborer like his older brothers Charley and John, died before 1900. In addition to older brothers Fred and Enoch, and sisters Maria and Ruth, Anderson had a younger brother James, and younger sisters Della and Nina. All were born between 1865 and 1887.

Around 1900 he worked as a porter in a grocery store in Charleston, where his brothers held jobs as porters, baggage drivers, and a blacksmith, supporting their widowed mother and sisters. Brown moved in 1907 to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his sister and brother‐in‐law were living, joined at least part of the time by the widowed Margaret Brown He ...

Article

Brown, Willard L.  

Charles Rosenberg

attorney, was born in or near Cambridge, Massachusetts, but raised after 1913 in Charleston, West Virginia. He was a Charleston city council member, real estate agent, lead lawyer for the West Virginia NAACP in preparing the Brown v. Board of Education case for presentation to the United States Supreme Court, and the first American of African descent to sit as a judge in a court of record in West Virginia.

His parents, Anderson Hunt Brown and Nellie Lewis Brown were both natives of West Virginia. They married in Massachusetts in June 1910, where Anderson Brown had moved in 1907, and managed the stock room at Manhattan Market, Central Square, Cambridge. Their only son was born the following year. Between 1918 and 1920, Nellie Brown died in childbirth. Anderson Brown remarried to Captolia Monette Casey, and had one daughter, Della Louise later Della Louise Brown Taylor Hardman ...