Tag Archives: Civil Rights

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln

Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863Today is the 204th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is one of America’s most celebrated Presidents, having served during the Union’s darkest time – the Civil War. His problematic tenure in office saw the United States nearly torn apart, the abolition of slavery, and the beginnings of our reunification. His assassination at Ford’s Theatre in April 1865 ensured he would not live to see the survival of his beloved country.

To learn more about Abraham Lincoln, visit the website for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the National Park Service’s Lincoln Memorial.

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The Origins of Black History Month

February is Black History Month – a time when Americans focus on the history, achievements, and contributions that African Americans have made. While it is not the only cultural heritage or focused history month, it is the oldest and often viewed as the most controversial. Black History month has been a unique and growing entity among not only American cultural history, but throughout the world (Canada and the UK most markedly).

Carter Woodson

Carter Woodson

In the United States, historian Carter Woodson (often called the “Father of Black History”) and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History proposed that the second week of February be recognized as “Negro History Week.” The date was chosen due to its proximity to the birthdates of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas. He wanted Americans to focus on an celebrate the achievements of Black Americans with the ultimate goal of it being weeded out as Black History became a part of the American Historical curriculum:

“If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” — Carter Woodson

“What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race hate, and religious prejudice.” — Carter Woodson

The celebration of Black History week was hugely popular and spurred several Black History Clubs, interest from educators, and grew in importance with the Civil Rights movement. In 1976, the Federal Government recognized the expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month. In 1987, Black History month was celebrated for the first time in the United Kingdom. In 1995, Canada’s government officially recognized Black history month in Canadian curriculum.

Smithsonian Online Exhibit: Separate is *not* Equal

ATM-Object-Greensboro-Woolworth-lunch-counter-631February is Black History Month and the National Museum of American History is marking the event with its online exhibit: Stories of Freedom & Justice. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Greensboro, NC Woolworth sit-in, the event has taken a special place at the Smithsonian.

The online exhibit includes numerous stories, first hand accounts, and images from that fateful event in which four young African-American college students sat at a “white’s only” lunch counter and refused to move, sparking a six month movement that would ultimately pave the way for Civil Rights in the state of North Carolina.

To learn more about the Civil Rights movement in America, to see more images and/or videos, and to access teaching resources, see the online exhibit.

Martin Luther King, Jr. – Tribute in Photos Courtesy of Discovery News

Martin Luther King, Jr. courtesy of Wikimedia

Martin Luther King, Jr. courtesy of Wikimedia

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Discovery news honors the late Civil Rights leader in photographs that capture his persona in public and private. The photographs look back at King’s Greatest accomplishments. To see the images, check out the Discovery News Article.

Martin Luther King Day – A Fort Worth Story

Today as I was pursuing the stories of my local news, I came across an interesting story about Civil Rights, segregation, and violent bigotry. Fort Worth, Texas is not a town that comes to mind when one things about the Civil Rights movement or Jim Crow south. However, like all cities and towns in the south, we have our stories – good and bad.

Downtown Fort Worth in the 1920s (less than a decade after the riot).Courtesy of Wikimedia

Downtown Fort Worth in the 1920s (less than a decade after the riot).
Courtesy of Wikimedia

Today, Bud Kennedy relates the story of race riots in 1913 Downtown Fort Worth, sparked by a movie theatre, “The Dixie” that was the first and only “Black’s Only” movie theatre in Downtown Fort Worth. Violence erupted, the theatre was destroyed, and African-Americans were assaulted on their Sunday morning walks to church. The event was then covered up by the local press as an incident resulting from “poor parenting.”

To read more about the story and history of this dark event in Fort Worth, see the article: “History reminds of the true meaning of the MLK Holiday” at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Rosa Parks Arrest Record

Rosa Parks’s Mug Shot

Today, Smithsonian Magazine publishes the arrest record of Civil Rights figure Rosa Parks. Parks became a household name and pivotal figure in the Civil Rights movement when, on December 1, 1955, she refused to move from the “whites section” of the bus to the designated “colored section.”

Her action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and gave a female face to the Civil Rights movement in Alabama. Parks became an enduring social leader in the United States until her death in 2005.

In the Smithsonian Magazine Article: “Document Deep Dive; Rosa Parks’ Arrest Records,” the author delves into the documents, highlighting pertinent information, exploring the figures involved, and documenting the event in detail. For any American Historian or Civil Rights enthusiast, it is a fascinating look at Jim Crow Alabama.

Archaeology in the Great Dismal Swamp

Archaeologists in the Great Dismal Swamp (right where I grew up) are researching and exploring the swamp area that served as a refuge for run away slaves and those operating on the underground railroad.

The swamp, originally 2,000 square miles of wetland, was the ideal hiding place for those looking to escape slavery or life outside of the norms of society.

Since 2001, Sayers has been researching and exploring the presence of maroons (African-Americans who permanently escaped enslavement) and other communities in the swamp’s approximately 200 square miles of undeveloped, densely wooded wetlands in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina.

Read more about the research in this Science Daily article