This Day in Civil Rights History - NOVEMBER

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November 30, 1960

Senior Scholastic Magazine "Integration Strife" Reports on New Orleans School Segregation Battles, Read by Students Around the Country.

In its November 30, 1960, issue, Senior Scholastic reported on the integration of public elementary schools in New Orleans. "Integration Strife" (view the original article or read the transcription, below) focused on two schools, including William Frantz Public School where Ruby Bridges made history. Because they were minors, the students — and their schools — were not named.

"Integration Strife" also looks at the tug-of-war between the U.S. District Court and New Orleans and mentions the statuses of other states with segregated public schools.

Integration Strife

The beginning of integration in the public schools of New Orleans, La., turned a city famed for its hospitality into a city of violence.

Rioting broke out in New Orleans after four Negro girls were admitted to the first grades at two previously all-white public schools. Police employed fire hoses to turn back brawling street crowds. Several hundred whites and Negroes were arrested.

Said Joseph I. Giarrusso, superintendent of New Orleans police, “I never remember anything like this in New Orleans before.”

The school integration order had been issued by Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. District Court. The four Negro first-graders, all age six, were escorted to the two schools by a group of U.S. marshals. White housewives joined white students outside to jeer and wave placards bearing segregationist slogans.

Within a few days, white students had virtually deserted the two grade schools. Widespread absences were reported in the other New Orleans public schools as well.

At the same time, Louisiana’s Governor Jimmie H. Davis called the state legislature into special session in efforts to counter the integration moves ordered by the federal court. The legislature passed a so-called “interposition act.” This act declared that the state was placing itself between the federal court and the people of New Orleans and, in effect, cancelling all federal orders for school integration in Louisiana.

Senior Scholastic, Vol. 77, No. 11, November 30, 1960, pp. 20-21.
Access pdf image of the original article. Cover image not found.

Caught in the middle of the federal vs. state tug-of-war, the Orleans Parish (county) school board (with jurisdiction over New Orleans public schools) petitioned the federal court to suspend the integration order pending settlement of the controversy.

A special three-judge federal court, however, refused to lift the integration order. The court also postponed decision on a state request to cancel all federal action to end segregation in Louisiana public schools.

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney-General William P. Rogers warned Louisiana against attempting to block the court orders. Rogers said that any interference would leave him “no recourse but to use the full power of [his] office to support the orders of the federal court.”

As we went to press, calm had returned to New Orleans. Schools were closed all week for teacher conferences and the Thanksgiving holiday. This closing had no connection with the integration protests. City and school officials held their breath, hoping that the resumption of school would not bring a resumption of disorder.

Read full-text,

November 29, 1960

Segregationist Mothers Protest As White Kindergarten & 1st Grade Students Continue to Attend Same School as Ruby Bridges

Excerpted in whole from The Civil Rights Digital Library, WSB-TV newsfilm clip of segregationist demonstrators protesting the integration of William Frantz Public School, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1960 November 29

In this WSB newsfilm clip from November 29, 1960, segregationist mothers in New Orleans demonstrate against the integration of William Frantz Public School and shout at Daisy Gabrielle and her daughter, Yolanda, as they walk to school.

The clip begins in a New Orleans Ninth Ward neighborhood; cars drive down the street and people walk along the sidewalk. A white mother and schoolgirl, Daisy Gabrielle and her six-year-old daughter Yolanda, walk down the sidewalk escorted by policemen who walk in front of and behind the two. In the background, people shout at the two as they walk.

Women at William Franz Elementary School yell at police officers during a protest against desegregation at the school, as three black youngsters attended classes at the school for the second day. Bettman/Getty Images
Rev. Lloyd Foreman (left) walking with his five-year-old daughter Pam Foreman to the newly integrated William Frantz School where they were blocked by jeering mothers on 29th of November 1960.
Listen to 4-minute snippet of interview with Pam Foreman Testroet, October 30, 2017. Listen to full interview at the NOLO Resitance Oral History Project.
Above is preserved saved item on OHPCRM - original: wsbn39675, WSB-TV newsfilm clip of segregationist demonstrators protesting the integration of William Frantz Public School, New Orleans, Louisiana, 1960 November 29, WSB-TV newsfilm collection, reel 0838, 46:59/48:08, Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia.
Mrs. James Gabrielle with daughter, Yolanda, are escorted by detectives past a crowd of jeering from the lawn near their home. Dec. 1, 1960. Shortly before, a rock thrown from the crowd shattered the window of the car carrying the mother and daughter from William Frantz Elementary School. Getty Images

Later, some of the yelling women walk behind the Gabrielles. The protesting women jump up and down and clap their hands; another woman comes out of her house, apparently to ask the protesters to leave her yard. Next, women holding a Bible chant, "Two, four, six, eight, we don't want to integrate." Another woman yells at someone off-screen, "Reverend, we have a Bible out here." And "I ain't seen integration in here yet.

Federal judge J. Skelly Wright ordered the Orleans Parish School Board to begin integrating schools in the fall of 1960 after nearly four years of delay from his original integration ruling in 1956. The school board agreed to integrate schools on a grade-a-year plan, beginning with the first grade that fall. The board then invited African Americans parents who wanted to transfer their children to white schools to submit applications to the school board. Of the 135 transfer applicants, four first-grade girls were selected to attend two schools in the poorer Ninth Ward. After assigning Ruby Bridges to William Frantz school and Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, and Gail Etienne to McDonogh 19, the board reclassified the schools as all-girl schools.

Officials from Norfolk, Virginia, who had already undergone court-ordered integration, warned school board members not to begin desegregation with poor schools. Parents from two New Orleans elementary schools in more affluent sections of the city also volunteered their schools for integration. The board's decision to ignore the advice and assistance of others and integrate Ninth Ward schools caused extra tension among local parents. Many parents felt their children were being sacrificed to integration and resented that the children of school board members, community leaders, and even Judge Wright still attended segregated schools. The four girls began attending the previously all-white schools on November 14. White segregationist women, nicknamed "the cheerleaders," protested integration every morning and afternoon at both schools by screaming and yelling at the African American girls, who were escorted to and from school by Federal marshals. The "cheerleaders" and other whites also attacked the few white parents who ignored a boycott of the schools arranged by the Louisiana Citizens' Council and braved the crowds to send their children to the elementary schools. Daisy Gabrielle was one of the white parents to send a child to William Frantz from November 14 until December 14. After her husband lost his job and the community turned on the family, the Gabrielles finally left the state. Methodist minister Lloyd Andrew Foreman also took his daughter Pamela Lynn to the integrated William Frantz for a month before pressure by white community members also caused the family to move. Roman Catholic priest Reverend Jerme Drolet escorted Foreman and his daughter to school and was also maligned by the crowd.

November 28, 1959

Nashville Students Challenge Lunch Counter Service in Early Sit-in Test by the Nashville Student Movement

Sit-in, Nashville lunch counter, 1960, U.S. Library of Congress (00651469)

A small group of African American students under the leadership of James Lawson and the Nashville Christian Leadership Council (NCLC) entered Harveys Department Store in Nashville, Tennessee. The students requested service at the store's lunch counter, the NCLC's first test of a non-violent direct action tactic to challenge the longstanding practice of racial discrimination at Nashville lunch counters. Although denied service, the students reported that they did not receive any threats and they left the store quietly to continue planning small-scale actions that would help them test public sentiment and potential challenges they might face as they planned a sustained campaign of sit-ins at Nashville lunch counters that began the following February.

Harveys was the site selected for the first test of non-violent direct resistance owing to the willingness of Fred Harvey to meet with James Lawson and other black leaders in the fall of 1959. When Harvey denied Lawson's request to end the color line at his department store's lunch counter, Lawson selected a few students who were willing to enter the store a few weeks later. The November 28, 1959 challenge was not technically a sit-in as the students left immediately after being denied service. However, this small act of resistance served its purpose as both Lawson and the students began formulating their plans for a return visit where the demonstrators would occupy the lunch counter until they were either served or arrested.

Lawson said, “In the fall of 1959, we did some testing of the places downtown in November, a couple weeks of experimental testing. This was to allow people to test themselves, but also for us to find out who was responsible for the decision regarding desegregation and to see how the protesters were treated and, if possible, to talk to the manager or a policy maker in each of the places… We sent them in teams of four to six people.”

The African American students entered three different Nashville establishments known to segregate their diner counters on February 13, 1960, made purchases then proceeded to occupy the segregated lunch counter. The students entered the S.H. Kress Department Store, Woolworths, and the McClellan store, and these establishments had “Whites Only” signs up at their counters; banning African Americans from sitting there. The sit-in protests continued and spread to seven additional shops that were segregated. While the first sit-ins on February 13, 1960, happened without incident, the following protests became violent.

The sit-in protests continued until May 10, 1960, when six of the protested shops agreed to serve all people regardless of race. The protests united many in the Nashville community as many white citizens in the community advocated for unity and desegregation of the city.

The Nashville protests were inspired by the sit-in protest in the Woolworth building in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960. Before the Greensboro sit-in, other sit-ins had taken place in St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, and fifteen other cities starting in 1943 lasting through 1960 when students protested in Nashville.

Nashville police arrest James Lawson, center, a divinity student expelled from Vanderbilt University for his civil rights actions in the city. March 4, 1960. UPI

November 27, 1960

New York Times Page 1 Story "Klan and Negroes March in Atlanta"
Segregation Demonstrations Peaceful — Sit-ins Close Four Lunch Counters

November 26, 1960

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Defends the Student Sit-in Movement, Debates Segregationist on NBC National Broadcast

King debates segregationist editor James J. Kilpatrick on a live, nationally televised program. They appeared before a studio audience of representatives from several civil rights and conservative groups as well as mayors attending the American Municipal Association Convention.

Defending the student protesters, King insists that “they respect law so much that they want to see all laws just and in line with the moral law of the universe.” Kilpatrick calls it “an interesting experience to be here tonight and see Mr. King assert a right to obey those laws he chooses to obey and disobey those that he chooses not to obey and insist the whole time that he has what he terms the highest respect for law.” Kilpatrick further describes the sit-ins as “a boorish exhibition of what seems to me plain bad manners in crashing into a place where they are not welcome.” Host John McCaffery moderates. This transcription was taken from NBC television footage.

Below is excerpt, King's opening statment. Read full transcript.

[King]: The position that I am attempting to present tonight is one that presents itself or commends itself both in its goals and its methods. The goals of the sit-in movement can scarcely be debatable in a society founded on the principle that all men are created equal. This movement seeks to remove from the body of our nation a cancerous disease which prevents our democratic health from being realized. It seeks to remove those barriers between men and men, barriers between color, dealing with color, barriers dealing with caste, which prevent us from realizing the ideals of human brotherhood. And so I would say that the sit-in demonstrations are justifiable because their ends are humanitarian, constructive, and moral.

But happily, the means toward these ends are consonant with the highest ideals of man in that they are peaceful and non-violent. The sit-in demonstrations seek to secure moral ends through moral means. And ever so often in history when men seek to achieve the splendid goals of freedom, human dignity, and justice, they resort to methods of violence, such as guerrilla warfare, such as assassination, and other methods of bloody revolution. But we know that this isn’t true of the sit-ins. We see here a crusade without violence, and there is no attempt on the part of those who engaged in sit-ins to annihilate the opponent but to convert him. There is no attempt to defeat the segregationists but to defeat segregation, and I submit that this method, this sit-in movement, is justifiable because it uses moral, humanitarian, and constructive means in order to achieve the constructive end.

And of course, this approach, the sit-in demonstrations, call upon the best in man. They somehow challenge his moral sense. They require action. And they do not merely wait and deal with a century of litigation. And they do not involve themselves in endless debates. But we see here real action working to bring about the realization of the ideals and principles of democracy.

Now, there are those who would argue that these demonstrations are unconstitutional and that they are illegal. They would go on to argue that they have no respect for law. But I would say that this is absolutely wrong. The individuals engaged in sit-in demonstrations are revealing the highest respect for law. And they respect law so much that they want to see all laws just and in line with the moral law of the universe. They’re willing to suffer and sacrifice in order to square local custom, customs and local laws with the moral law of the universe. And they are seeking to square these local laws with the federal Constitution and with what is the just law of the land.

THE NATION'S FUTURE - Pictured: (l-r) Pro-segregationist editor James J. Kilpatrick, Moderator John McCaffery, civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr during a debate on segregation on November 26, 1960 - Bob Ganley/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Therefore, I am sure, I am convinced, that they are just and that they are truly American, that somehow these sit-in demonstrations send us back to the deep wells of democracy that were dug by the Founding Fathers of our nation in formulating the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. And so in sitting down, these students are in reality standing up for the highest and the best in the American tradition. And I think it is justifiable because it isn’t a selfish movement. It isn’t based on seeking merely rights for Negroes or seeking to secure those things that would apply only to one minority group, but they’re seeking to save the soul of America.

Truly, America faces today a rendezvous with destiny, and I think these students, through their nonviolent, direct, courageous action have met the challenge of this destiny-packed moment in a very majestic and sublime way.

Found audio recording converted to playable format.

King’s performance disappointed some members of SNCC, who watched the debate with Ella Baker during a meeting of SNCC’s executive council. Baker criticized King’s lack of preparation: “It was almost in the cards that he would muff it. . . for he had not forced himself to analytically come to grips with these issues. The students were sitting there in front of the TV, waiting for him to ‘take care’ of Kilpatrick. Finally some got up and walked away.”. At SNCC’s November 1960 meeting, the group discussed King’s performance and voted to contact the show and suggest that a “student involved in the movement be included in a future program of this type”.

Excerpted from footnote #3, within full transcript as posted at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford Universityg

November 25, 1960

CBS Airs Documentary "Harvest of Shame," Edward R Murrow Uncovers Slave-Like Conditions of Migrant Workers, Many Black American Citizens

Excerpted in part from "Harvest of Shame" 50 Years Later, Byron Pitts, CBS November 24, 2010

"Only in name are they not a slave," said Rev. Michael Cassidy in the original documentary. "But in the way they are treated, they are worse than slaves."

"They are the migrants, workers in the sweat shops of the soil - the harvest of shame," CBS News correspondent Edward R. Murrow said in 1960.

In "Harvest of Shame," Murrow called them "the forgotten people; the under-educated; the under-fed."

With raw and striking images, Murrow's documentary exposed the poverty and deplorable working conditions endured by America's 2 to 3 million migrant farm workers.

Images screen-captured from CBS documentary, "Harvest of Shame."
Watch the entire original broadcast "Harvest of Shame," in which Edward R. Murrow exposed the plight of America's farm workers, 52 min

November 24, 1958

Supreme Court Upholds Pupil Placement Laws” – Slowing School Desegregation 4 Years After Brown v. Board

Excerpted in whole from Supreme Court Allows Alabama to Evade Mandate for Racial Integration, The Equal Justice Initiative

On November, 24, 1958, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously decided Shuttlesworth vs. Birmingham Board of Education, rejecting a challenge to Alabama’s School Placement Law. The law, designed to defy the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision and maintain school segregation, allowed Alabama school boards to assign individual students to particular schools at their own discretion with little transparency or oversight.

Alabama’s School Placement Law, which claimed to allow school boards to designate placement of students based on ability, availability of transportation, and academic background, was modeled after the Pupil Placement Act in North Carolina -- enacted on March 30, 1955, in response to the Brown decision. Virginia passed the second placement law on September 29, 1956. In 1957, after the North Carolina law was upheld by a higher court, legislatures in other Southern states passed similar pupil placement laws; by 1960, such laws were on the books in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

After the Alabama law's passage, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth sued on behalf of four African American students in Birmingham who had been denied admission to white schools that were closer to their homes. In its unanimous decision, the Supreme Court wrote, “The School Placement Law furnishes the legal machinery for an orderly administration of the public schools in a constitutional manner by the admission of qualified pupils upon a basis of individual merit without regard to their race or color. We must presume that it will be so administered.”

Students being educated via television during the period that the Little Rock schools were closed to avoid desegregation, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 1958. Photographs by Thomas J. O'Halloran. Courtesy of the Library of Congress
A dummy is dragged past West End High in effigy. September 1963 Jeremy Gray, Associated Press

Between the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 and 1958, a total of 376,000 African American children were enrolled in integrated schools in the South. This growth slowed significantly as states passed obstructive legislation like these pupil placement laws; the figure rose by just 500 students between 1958 and 1959, and by October 1960, only six percent of African American children in the South were attending integrated schools. Crucially, in the five Deep South states, including Alabama, every single one of 1.4 million Black schoolchildren attended segregated schools until the fall of 1960. Learn more about the massive white resistance to integration in this period here.

Access this detailed account of history of legal maneiuvers to circumvent desegregation in Southern Spaces.

November 23, 1965

NY Times Reports "4 Negro Homes Hit by Bombs in South" Targetting Civil Rights Leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina

As 17-year-old Kelly Alexander Jr. lay in bed in the early morning hours of Monday, Nov. 22, 1965, in the bedroom he shared with his brother Alfred in their family’s home across from West Charlotte High School, he heard a rumbling that he took to be thunder. As it turned out, what he heard was the dynamite bombing of his uncle’s house next door. Seconds later, the window above him exploded in a violent blast.

“I remember hearing what I thought was thunder in the distance, and the next thing there was a big flash, which would have been the bomb going off on our porch,” recalls Alexander, now a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives. “Our room was right next to [the porch], so when the bomb went off, all of the windows just shattered and blasted across the bedroom.”

The attack was aimed at Alexander’s father, Kelly Alexander Sr., the president of the North Carolina NAACP. The bombings on Senior Drive in the University Park neighborhood targeting Alexander Sr. and his brother, Charlotte City Council member Fred D. Alexander, were two of four carried out that night targeting local civil rights leaders on the Beatties Ford Road corridor in Historic West End. All of the attacks occurred within minutes of each other, beginning at about 2:15 a.m.

Nearby in the McCrorey Heights neighborhood, Dr. Reginald Hawkins was targeted for his work in expanding local protests and sit-ins that had been started by Johnson C. Smith University students in Uptown.

In Northwood Estates, civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers’ house was also bombed. Chambers had presented the famous Swann vs. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education lawsuit, and more recently stirred local white supremacists into a frenzy with his efforts to integrate the Shrine Bowl, a popular high school football all-star game that took place every December.

Though nobody was seriously hurt in the bombings, they shook Charlotte to the core, serving as a wake-up call to white residents and city leaders who liked to believe that their city was above the racial violence and unrest that had been plaguing much of the Deep South. The effects of the bombings on Charlotte’s populace have implications that still ring true in the city today.

No arrests have ever been made in the attacks.

Composite image from the Charlotte Observer, 50 years ago: Bombs ignited night of terror
Clipping from page 30, The New York Times, November, 23, 1965
Click image to read full story at the Queen City Nerve

November 22, 1961

5 Freedom Riders Arrested In Albany, Georgia, Sparking the Albany Movement

On November 22, after three high school students (Julian Carswell, Evelyn Toney and Eddie Wilson) were arrested for refusing to leave the “white” dining room at the Trailways bus station, Albany State students Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall, returned and were arrested. Gober was nineteen-years-old.

Gober and Hall refused bail and were expelled from Albany State. Students marched on the home of the school’s president in protest. Just three days after her arrest, a mass meeting was held at Mount Zion Baptist Church. There, Bertha Gober, just released, gave powerful testimony of her experience in jail. Even decades later, people recalled how powerful her speech was. Inspired by the stories shared at the mass meeting, a number of Albany State students went from dormitory to dormitory to organize other students that very night to hold a protest march on city hall the following morning.

Almost two weeks later, Gober joined several hundred young and elderly citizens on a march down Jackson Street. Police tried to break up the march and arrested her and other demonstrators. Gober was back in the same overcrowded jail with its water fountains right over the toilet seats. The infested mattresses had been removed, leaving only metal bunks.

Gober went on to use her voice for the Movement as a Freedom Singer, along with Cordell Reagon, Bernice Johnson, Charles Neblett, Bernard Lafayette, and Dorothy Vallis. The Freedom Singers helped raise money for the Movement at events across the country but also inspired SNCC people to carry on.

November 22, 1963

President John F. Kennedy Assassinated in Dallas Losing a Rising Civil Rights Ally

On this day in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. In 1960, Kennedy began his presidency promising to end racial segregation.

On the domestic front, Kennedy, along withhis brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, danced around civil rights issues. Kennedy was personally sympathetic to civil rights , and he met with civil rights leaders and helped form the Voter Education Project. But he also refused to risk his political clout to fully endorse the Movement and was reluctant to interfer with state affairs.

Like Eisenhower before him, Kennedy responded to crises by deploying the National Guard, in quelling rioting over the freedom riders in Alabama and James Merdtith's intergration of hte University of Mississppi. But in the first half of hie term, he did not lead the nation on moral issues pertinent to the Civil Rights Movement. After the Birmingham campaign, however, Kennedy began to focus more strongly on the discrimination faced by blacks in the South. He had sent a civil rights bill to congress before his death.

In Dallas on November 22, 1963, Kennedy’s motorcade traveled slowly down Main Street. Kennedy was waving at the crowd when a sniper fired and fatally wounded him. Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, was shot and killed two days later.

With Kennedy's assassination, the Civil Rights Movement lost an ally who was just beginning to grow into his role.

November 21, 1968

"Black Thursday" Student Protests at Wisconsin State University Result in Expulsion of the "Oshkosh 94"

Excerpted from Black Thursday , University of Wisconsin

On November 21, 1968, ninety-four African American students attending Wisconsin State University at Oshkosh (WSU-O) engaged in a dramatic demonstration within the university president’s executive office.

Citizens of Oshkosh and surrounding communities in Northeast Wisconsin—most of whom had only previously witnessed the civil rights movement and the turmoil of the 1960s through news broadcasts carried through their television sets—were stunned by the demonstration and the damage left in its wake.

The public and official university reaction to the events of that day (soon dubbed “Black Thursday” by the student newspaper) was swift and punitive. Over the next several months, controversies surrounding the expulsion of the “Oshkosh 94” demonstrators, the conditions that triggered the demonstration, and the limits of academic freedom raged on, thus protracting the most significant crisis in race relations to ever hit the region.

Juanita Moore, Herb Gaede, Robert Hayes, Gladys Coleman, Henry Brown, Geoff McCreary, Sandy McCreary, telephone wiring technician Jim Barr, Franklin Utech, Oshkosh police offcer Bill Gonyo, Noreen Debnam, Vada Harris, and John Schuh relate their memories of November 21, 1968. Black Thursday Remembered (17 min)
Visit Black Thursday Remembered for a full overview including interviews and documents.
BSU spokesman Geoff McCreary (plaid jacket) goes over list of demands with university and city officials. From Black Thursday Remembered
Arested students were herded onto rented, windowless cargo vehicles and transported to the county courthouse. From Black Thursday Remembered

November 20, 1962

President Kennedy Signs Executive Order 11063, Equal Opportunity in Housing, Banning Racial Discrimination in Some Federally-Assisted Housing

Excerpted in full from Today in Civil Liberties HIstory
An African American and Caucasian girl reading a sign in the integrated Long Island community of Lakeview, New York in 1962.

President John F. Kennedy on this day finally signed Executive Order 11063, Equal Opportunity in Housing, which banned racial discrimination in federally-assisted housing in certain limited circumstances.

As a candidate for president in the 1960 election campaign he promised to sign such an order with a “stroke of the pen.” As president angered civil rights activists by refusing to sign it for over a year and a half. Kennedy was weak on civil rights issues in large part because he did not want to alienate segregationist Democrats in the Congress. (Read the book Bystander, below, about Kennedy and civil rights.)

The 1968 Fair Housing Act, passed on April 11, 1968, finally addressed the problem of race discrimination in housing. The Supreme Court affirmed and strengthened the 1968 Fair Housing Act in a crucial decision on June 25, 2015.

President Kennedy’s response to the civil rights movement was generally weak. He did not, for example, support the Freedom Rides that began on May 4, 1961. He transformed his image on civil rights, on June 11, 1963, when he gave a famous nationally televised speech calling for a federal civil rights bill. Nonetheless, he tried to talk civil rights leaders out of what became the famous March on Washington on August 28, 1963, and responding to pressure from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, his brother as Attorney General authorized wiretaps on Martin Luther King on October 10, 1963.

Press Release announcing President Kennedy's signging of Executive Order 11063, November 20, 1962.

November 19, 1963

The Hadsell Committee Releases Report – “De Facto Segregation Study Committee Report" Detailing Continued School Segregation in Berkeley, California

In 1968, Berkeley (California) made headlines for its pioneering busing plan to fully integrate the city’s public schools. It was adopted after intense community debate, protests and even a recall election against the School Board members who supported desegregation.

Although some other school districts across the country had earlier fostered integration efforts to varying degrees before 1968, particularly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954, Berkeley was generally recognized as the first sizeable city with a substantial proportion of black students to do so voluntarily in all schools with two-way busing, which meant not only busing black kids to what had been predominantly white schools in the hills but also busing white kids to what had been predominantly black schools in the flats.

A key step came via an earlier report titled, “Interracial Problems and Their Effect on Education in the Public Schools of Berkeley, California,” dated Oct. 19, 1959. The report exposed what former BUSD Superintendent Sullivan called “the inequities of Berkeley’s Little Rock.”

The report documented the city’s segregated housing patterns, with whites in the hills and blacks in the flats, as well as the poor quality of schools serving black students.

By the spring of 1962, frustrated members of the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) demanded action and were invited to make a presentation to the School Board, which the year before had seen a liberal majority oust the longstanding conservative hold on the Board. Agreeing with CORE’s request for a new, more comprehensive study, the Board established the 36-member Citizens’ Committee on De Facto Segregation. The NAACP and CORE actions set in motion the forces that led to a major eruption of public reaction in 1963.

The report of the new committee – called the Hadsell committee after its chairman, minister John Hadsell – “struck the community like a bombshell,” Sullivan wrote in his book. The 112-page report, dated November 19, 1963, and titled “De Facto Segregation Study Committee Report,” reported data showing de facto segregation in 14 of the district’s 17 elementary schools and 2 of the 3 junior high schools.The committee recommended desegregating the junior high schools by re-assigning some white students and black students to achieve greater racial balance. The ensuing debates galvanized Berkeley residents with community meetings drawing thousands of people. Record numbers crowded PTA meetings.

On Jan. 15, 1968, the School Board voted unanimously to desegregate all 14 of the District’s elementary schools the following September. The plan called for busing 3,500 of the District’s nearly 9,000 students, and its most striking feature perhaps was that, unlike other cities where busing occurred, both black and white students would be boarding buses in order to balance school populations.

November 18, 1964

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover Calls Martin Luther King the “Most Notorious Liar” in America

Excerpted in whole from Today In Civil Liberties History

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover attacked Rev. Martin Luther King on this day as the “most notorious liar” in America.

The attack was a response to King’s criticisms of the FBI regarding its failure to protect civil rights leaders from racist assaults. Hoover’s attack led to a meeting between the two on December 1, 1964, at FBI headquarters. At that meeting, Hoover made reference to several things about King’s activities that King realized could have come only from wiretaps and listening devices. King was deeply shaken by the experience. (In fact, Hoover may have made his “notorious liar” comment as a way of provoking a meeting where he could clearly hint at what he knew about King.)

Image re-formatted, click for full clipping from the NY Herald Tribune, November 19, 1964

The FBI had already embarked on a secret and vicious campaign to destroy King as a civil rights leader. On December 23, 1963, it had decided to “neutralize” him. On January 5, 1964, agents installed the first of a series of “bugs” (listening devices, not wiretaps) in one of King’s hotel rooms. Material from this and other bugs were included in an anonymous letter the FBI sent to King containing recordings allegedly indicating King was involved in sexual escapades, and with a message seeming to tell King that his only option was to commit suicide.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover wrote this letter to a top lieutenant, condemning civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., one day after Hoover attacked King at a news conference as “the most notorious liar in the country.” You are done’: A secret letter to Martin Luther King Jr. sheds light on FBI’s malice, Michael E. Ruane, Waschington Post, Dec. 13, 2017 Click to access pdf of full story.

November 17, 1961

Alliance of Civil Rights Groups Form the Albany Movement With Aim to Desegregate the Entire Georgia Town

Excerpted in part from The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University

Formed on 17 November 1961 by representatives from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee(SNCC), the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Ministerial Alliance, the Federation of Women’s Clubs, and the Negro Voters League, the Albany Movement conducted a broad campaign in Albany, Georgia, that challenged all forms of segregation and discrimination. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) temporarily joined the coalition, attracting national publicity to Albany.

SNCC members Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon traveled to Albany in October 1961 to galvanize the black community into direct action protests against institutionalized segregation. Albany had experienced little protest activity prior to SNCC’s arrival; however, black residents were dissatisfied with the city commission’s failure to address the community’s grievances. Sherrod and Reagon led workshops on nonviolent tactics for Albany residents in anticipation of a showdown with local police.

The Albany Movement aimed to end all forms of racial segregation in the city, focusing initially on desegregating travel facilities, forming a permanent biracial committee to discuss further desegregation, and the release of those jailed in segregation protests.

Albany police chief Laurie Pritchett responded to the demonstrations with mass arrests, but refrained from public brutality and thereby minimized negative publicity. By December 1961 more than 500 protesters were jailed, and negotiations with city officials began. Anderson called on King to help reinvigorate the movement.

Albany police chief Laurie Pritchett arresting Martin Luther King, Jr, December 1961 by Donald Uhrbrock, the LIFE Images Collection, Getty Images
In this excerpt from CBS News Eyewitness: The Albany Movement, broadcast on August 3, 1962, teenage demonstrators are arrested for singing and praying in front of the public library—the SNCC Freedom Singers originated in this movement—and SCLC’s executive director, Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker (b. 1929), discusses the intent of nonviolent direct action. Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, CBS News

November 16, 1963

Sit-in Protesters Jailed in Helena, Arkansas - A Day in the Life of SNCC Activists on the Front Line

Full text re-transcription from SNCC memo, 3 SNCC Workers, 30 Others Held in Helena, Arkansas

STUDENT NONVIOLENT COORDINATING COMMITTEE8 1/2 Raymond Street Northwest Atlanta, Georgia, 30314

For Immediate Release19 November 1963

HELENA, ARKANSAS - Three field secretaries from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and 30 other anti-segregation on workers are being held here after this city's first sit-in demonstrations.

SNCC worker Noah Washington is being held under $1,500 bail on charges of "vagrancy", "disturbing the peace", and "refusing to leave a public place".

SNCC worker John Bradlord and SNCC field secretary William Hansen - director of SNCC' s project here - are being held under $500 bail in "disturbing the peace" charges. Hansen was arrested while he sat in a telephone booth talking to the Atlanta SNCC office.

Bruce Jordan, SNCC field worker here, said police who arrested Hansen put him in a police car with a police dog.

Also jailed Saturday, November 16, were Curtis Grady, a member of the Pine Bluff (Ark. ) Movement, and Phillips County Movement Chairman, Granville Miller.

Helena is on the Mississippi River in Arkansas' Delta.

Negroes are 53. 9% of the county's population, according to the 1960 Civil Rights Commission report on Voting. Only 28% of the eligible Negroes are registered to vote, however.
From the Student Voice, November 18. 1963. Click image for full pdf. Freedom Archives

The first arrests came after eight Negroes entered Henry's Drug Store here. Lights inside were turned out and the demonstrators were arrested. Another group tried unsuccessfully to enter Henry's but found it closed. The second arrests came at Habib's Cafeteria, when police jailed 18 demonstrators.. A crowd of 300 whites and Negroes gathered outside the eating place.

November 15, 1963

Hundreds Continue to Protest School Segregation in Chester, Pennsylvania

Excerpted in part from African American residents of Chester, PA, demonstrate to end de facto segregation in public schools, 1963-1966, Global Nonviolent Action Database

In November 1963, African American parents in the small city of Chester, PA organized and demanded better conditions at their local elementary school, Franklin School. They picketed the school and blocked its doors, successfully shutting it down for several days. The protesters also staged sit-ins in the City Hall, municipal building, and the Board of Education's offices. After several weeks of protest, the campaign grew to encompass desegregation efforts of 10 of Chester's public elementary and middle schools.

Article from from the Bryn Mawr student newspaper, "The College News" reports on the arrest of Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, and Haverford college students who joined with the Chester Black community in protest. Click to access full article, November 15, 1963.
A woman civil-rights picket is hauled away after protesting about a local school which the demonstrators wanted closing, due to it being classed as an all-black school. November 14, 1963, Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images

Friday, November 15, 1963, hundreds of Chester residents assembled at the doors of Franklin School for another demonstration. Police began arresting protesters at 8 a.m. and charged them with unlawful assembly and near riot. Stanley Branche was the first to be arrested that morning and was held on $500 bail. On Friday night, 1,000 protesters marched from Temple Baptist Church to the Chester Police Station and demonstrated outside the station for half an hour.

School Protests Begin in Chester, Pennsylvania, Dubbed "Birmingham of the North" By COFO Director, James Farmer

November 14, 1960

Four 1st Grade Girls – Including Six-Year-Old Ruby Bridges – Break Racial Barrier in New Orleans Schools: Nearly All Whites Withdraw

Excerpted in whole from the Equal Justice Initiative

On November 14, 1960, four federal marshals escorted six-year-old Ruby Bridges to her first day of first grade as the first Black student to attend previously all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. A riotous white mob organized by the local White Citizens' Council gathered to protest her arrival, screaming hateful slurs, threats, and insults.

In August 1955, African American parents in New Orleans, Louisiana sued the Orleans Parish School Board for failing to desegregate local schools in compliance with the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The following February, a federal court ordered the school board to desegregate the city’s schools. For the next four years, the school board and state lawmakers defied the federal court's order and resisted school desegregation.

On May 16, 1960, Judge J. Skelly Wright issued a federal order demanding the gradual desegregation of New Orleans public schools, beginning with the first grade -- but the Orleans Parish School Board convinced Judge Wright to accept an even more limited desegregation plan, requiring African American students to apply for transfer into all-white schools. Only five of the 137 African American first graders who applied for a transfer were accepted; four agreed to attend, including six-year-old Ruby Bridges, who was the sole Black student assigned to William Frantz Elementary.

On November 14,1960, four young girls—Leona Tate, Tessie Prevost, Gail Etienne, and Ruby Bridges—integrated two elementary schools in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans. This short film highlights Leona Tate's story entering McDonogh 19 school, the same day and her later adult mission to re-open the school after Katrina. Filmed in 2019.
Ruby Bridges leaving William Frantz Elementary School escorted by federal marshals in November, 1960. Associated Press
Ruby Bridges as portrayed in the Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” 1963

After getting past the angry white crowd to enter the school, Ruby arrived in her assigned classroom to find that she and the teacher were the only two people present; it would remain that way for the rest of the school year. Within a week, nearly all of the white students assigned to the newly-integrated elementary schools in New Orleans had withdrawn.

Despite threats and retaliation against her family, including her grandparents’ eviction from the Mississippi farm where they worked as sharecroppers, Ruby remained at Frantz Elementary. The next year, Ruby advanced to the second grade, and the school's incoming first grade class had eight Black students.

Ruby Bridges shares her deeply personal childhood story and the ideas that have grown from that experience as part of the TEDxNapaValley 2014 "Going Against The Grain, embracing the unconventional" event.

November 13, 1956

Supreme Court Rules Bus Segregation Unconstitutional in Landmark Case, Browder v. Gale, Ending the Year-Long Montgomery Bus Boycott

Excerpted in whole with minor changes from Browder v. Gayle, 352 U.S. 903, The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford

Aurelia S. Browder v. William A. Gayle challenged the Alabama state statutes and Montgomery, Alabama, city ordinances requiring segregation on Montgomery buses. Filed on behalf of four African American women who had been mistreated on city buses, the case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld a district court ruling that the statute was unconstitutional. The case was filed on February 1, 1956, two days after segregationists bombed Martin Luther King's house.

The original plaintiffs in the case were Aurelia S. Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, and Jeanatta Reese, but outside pressure convinced Reese to withdraw from the case in February. Rosa Parks was not included in the case to avoid the perception that they were seeking to circumvent her prosecution on other charges. Attorney Fred Gray “wanted the court to have only one issue to decide—the constitutionality of the laws requiring segregation on the buses.” The list of defendants included Mayor William A. Gayle, the city’s chief of police, representatives from Montgomery’s Board of Commissioners, Montgomery City Lines, Inc., two bus drivers, and representatives of the Alabama Public Service Commission. Gray was aided in the case by Thurgood Marshall and other National Association for the Advancement of Colored People attorneys.

Because Browder v. Gayle challenged the constitutionality of a state statute, the case was brought before a three-judge U.S. District Court panel. On 5 June 1956, the panel ruled two-to-one that segregation on Alabama’s intrastate buses was unconstitutional, citing Brown v. Board of Education as precedent for the verdict. King applauded the victory but called for a continuation of the Montgomery bus boycott until the ruling was implemented.

The evening after the November 13 decision, King addressed a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church the next evening, saying that the decision was “a reaffirmation of the principle that separate facilities are inherently unequal, and that the old Plessy Doctrine of separate but equal is no longer valid, either sociologically or legally.”

On December 17, 1956, the Supreme Court rejected city and state appeals to reconsider their decision, and three days later the order for integrated buses arrived in Montgomery. The days later, on December 20, 1956 King and the Montgomery Improvement Association voted to end the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott. In a statement that day, King said: “The year-old protest against city buses is officially called off, and the Negro citizens of Montgomery are urged to return to the buses tomorrow morning on a non-segregated basis.” The Montgomery buses were integrated the following day.

Blacks board an integrated bus following the successful end of a 381-day bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama sparked by the November 13, 1963 Supreme Court decision in Browder v Gayle. Don Cravens / Getty Images
Watch this short video summary from the History Pod (2min)

See related previous posts:

Mary Louise Smith Arrested on Montgomery Bus, 40 Days BEFORE Rosa Parks

Aurelia S. Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin, and Mary Louise Smith Win Bus Desegregation Case

November 12, 1985

Freedom Rights Champion, Diane Nash, Interviews for Eyes on the Prize

Diane Nash, civil rights activist, leader and strategist with SNCC, and SCLC. She was a 22-year organizer of the original 1960 lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville, a lead architect of the 1961 CORE Freedom Rides, and co-organizer of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March.

On this day in 1985, Nash was interviewed for the award-winning Eyes on the Prize series. Below is a transcript and video excerpt.

Diane Nash from Eyes on the Prize
Excerpted from Interview With Diane Nash, Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.
Nash clip.mp4
Clip extracted from Interview With Diane Nash, Blackside, Inc. on November 12, 1985, for Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1954-1965). Washington University Libraries, Film and Media Archive, Henry Hampton Collection.

November 11, 1961

CORE “Freedom Motorcade” in Maryland Called Off As Restaurants End Segregated Services

Excerpted in whole from Today In Civil Liberties History

The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) planned a massive “Freedom Motorcade” for this day to protest the discrimination, but most of the restaurants voluntarily agreed to integrate three days before the planned event, and the motorcade was cancelled.

Restaurants on Route 40 in Maryland had been discriminating against African diplomats, most of whom were representing newly independent countries, and who were driving to Washington, D.C., after flying into New York City.

In 1961 there was no federal law and no Maryland law barring discrimination in public accommodations. (That would not end until the 1964 Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964.) The incidents were enormously embarrassing to the Kennedy administration. Maryland officials apologized to African diplomats on July 11, 1961.

CORE was founded on March 9, 1942. It burst into national prominence earlier in the year on May 4, 1961 by organizing the famous Freedom Ride, which challenged segregation in interstate bus travel. The Freedom Ride is one of the most famous events in the history of the civil rights movement.

Read more about CORE's Route 40 Project

November 10, 1963

Malcolm X Delivers "Message to the Grassroots" In Detroit

The famous speech, “A Message to the Grassroots,” by Malcolm X has caught my attention as a great speech that youth need to hear.

In the speech, he speaks about Black people’s mentality traced back all the way to slavery. He speaks of house Negroes and field Negroes as two different people that have two opposite views on their existence and role.

Click above image for full audio.

A house Negro is a Black person who is clearly mistreated and held captive but has the mindset that their maltreatment is normal or called for. On the other hand, field Negroes were historically treated worse, hated, despised and fought against the master.

Comparing that to his current time period, Malcolm connected slave and house Negroes with the “Uncle Toms” that he considered to be the Negro leaders at the time. He defined the Uncle Tom as the one who the white slave master dressed up so other slaves would look up to him. He would convince the other slaves to calm down their uprising and keep people from uniting or running away.

He likened that character to leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Whitney young and other who were around at the time spreading a message of integration and “suffering peacefully”. He told of documents that showed those same leaders partnering up with white millionaires and getting paid to be in the spotlight and have the media at their disposal.

Click above image for full text.

He felt that the white influence on the march on Washington weakened the revolutionary stance and thus turned out to be a circus.

This speech is valuable not only because of the wisdom that Malcolm drops but also because of the history and knowledge he shares about the psychology that Black people have towards one another and with themselves.

November 9, 1968

"Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud" – An Anthem of the Black Power Movement – Hits 6th Week at #1 on the R&B Chart

"Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud" is a funk song performed by James Brown and written with his bandleader Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis in 1968. It was released as a two-part single which held the number-one spot on the R&B singles chart for six weeks (through November, 9, 1963). Both parts of the single were later included on James Brown's 1968 album A Soulful Christmas and on his 1969 album sharing the title of the song. The song became an unofficial anthem of the Black Power movement.

In the song, Brown addresses the prejudice towards blacks in America, and the need for black empowerment. He proclaims that "we demands a chance to do things for ourself/we're tired of beating our head against the wall/and workin' for someone else". The song's call-and-response chorus is performed by a group of young children, who respond to Brown's command of "Say it loud" with "I'm black and I'm proud!" The song was recorded in a Los Angeles area suburb with about 30 young people from the Watts and Compton areas.

The lyrics "We've been 'buked and we've been scorned/We've been treated bad, talked about as sure as you're born" in the first verse of the song paraphrase the spiritual "I've Been 'Buked."

Several other Brown singles from the same era as "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud", notably "I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I'll Get It Myself)", explored similar themes of black empowerment and self-reliance.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud" as one of their 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2004 it was ranked number 305 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It inspired the title of a VH1 television special and box set, Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America.

A clip from the documentary, "The Night James Brown Saved Boston", features discussion by Civil Rights activists Dr. Andrew Young and Rev. Al Sharpton on the magic of the song "Say it Loud-I'm Black and I'm Proud" and its context within the civil rights movement and the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. James Brown "helped a generation of his people."Above text excerpted from YouTube link to video.

November 8, 1962

Student Activists Re-Start Sit-Ins at Woolworth’s Lunch Counters in Little Rock, Arkansas Protesting Segregation of Public Facilities

Excerpted in whole from Philander Smith students push Little Rock businesses to desegregate, as posted on the SNCC Digital Gateway.

In October 1962, the Arkansas Council on Human Relations requested that SNCC send a field secretary to Little Rock. This request was unusual, but since its formation in 1960, SNCC had grown substantially, evolving from a loose collection of campus-based direct action organizations to a central office in Atlanta with field workers coordinating large projects throughout the South. Members of the Council felt there was a need for an organization like SNCC to work with students in Little Rock following unsuccessful sit-in attempts in the previous two years. In response, SNCC sent Bill Hansen, a student at Xavier University best known for his work on direct action campaigns in Albany and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Assisted by Hansen, students from Philander Smith College and Shorter Junior College formed the Student Freedom Movement. They began sit-ins. On November 8, 1962, activists gathered at Woolworth’s lunch counters to protest the segregation of public facilities. This act led to the arrest of Hansen and SNCC’s Worth Long. Hansen and Long attempted to take seats at a roped off counter when they were arrested. A sign reading, “This fountain is closed in the interest of public safety,” was put up on the counter. They were accused of “refusing to leave a business establishment after being requested to do so by the manager.” They were both released on November 30th on a $500 bond each.

After Hansen and Long were detained, Philander Smith College students marched to downtown Little Rock to protest the arrests while others continued a series of demonstrations at Woolworth’s. Though many students sat-in several times, no arrests were made during these particular protests. Counters were closed immediately after students appeared. Frustrated by student action, Amos Guthridge, head of the Little Rock White Citizens Council, went into Woolworth’s and threatened the students. One student said Guthridge sprayed some liquid on them as they sat at the closed off counter.

These acts of defiance by local students, encouraged by SNCC, ultimately led to the the desegregation of three lunch counters, one restaurant, a bowling alley, and several hotels. The Student Freedom Movement inspired by its success, continued to fight to bring about social, political and economic change in the region.

At first glance, the movement to desegregate Little Rock appears to be just one of the many attempts made by SNCC activists to integrate eating establishments and other forms of public accommodations in the early 1960s. However, when examined much closer it illustrates SNCC’s commitment to grassroots organizing. It shows that change was not possible without the concerted efforts between local people–in this case students–and civil rights groups.

November 7, 1955

Segregated Interstate Bus Transportation Banned by ICC 3 Years After Sarah Keys Refuses to Give Up Her Seat In North Carolina

Excerpted in part from Who is Sarah Keys Evans?, from the Sarah Keys Evans Inclusive Public Art Project

Before Rosa Parks, there was Sarah Keys Evans, who refused to give up her seat to a white marine while traveling from Fort Dix, NJ to her hometown, Washington, North Carolina.

August 1, 1952, Sarah Keys Evans, during an unexpected driver change in Roanoke Rapids, NC, was asked to give up her seat and move to the rear of the bus. in 1946, it was declared that buses originating in the North that did not make any changes, did not have to adhere to Southern local laws.

Understanding her rights, she refused to give up her seat. The driver ordered all the other passengers off the bus except Sarah and she was later arrested and held in custody for 13 hours before being released and ordered to pay a $25 fine for disorderly conduct. She was taken to the bus station, given an assigned seat, and told not to move until she reached her destination.

With the help of her father, Keys took her case to lower court, where she lost. Afterwhich, she and her family went to get help from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Dovey J. Roundtree and Julius Robertson on the case. Keys, armed with a new team, took her case before the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and won. The Keys vs. Carolina Coach Company case was settled November 7, 1955.

See interview with Sarah Keys Evans at age 90 in 2019 recount the events of August 1, 1952 when she refused to give up her seat, years before Rosa Parks. From Trailblazer - Sarah Keys Evans Story - ECCC Production
Sarah Keys Evans, pictured in her Army dress uniform, was arrested and jailed in Roanoke Rapids on Aug. 1, 1952, after refusing to give up her seat on an interstate bus to a white passenger, three and a half years before Rosa Parks was jailed for the same offense in Montgomery, Alabama. (Sarah K. Evans Public Art Project)

November 6, 1964

The Role of Women in the Civil Rights Movement Raised at SNCC Meeting in Waveland, Mississippi, Key Moment in the Birth of the Modern Feminist Movement

Excerpted in whole from Today In Civil Liberties History

At a staff retreat in Waveland, Mississippi, held by the civil rights group the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) following Freedom Summer (June 21, 1964), the issue of the role of women in the movement arose. An anonymous paper, “Women in the Movement,” circulated and generated considerable controversy. The paper (see below) drew a parallel between the place of African-Americans in society at large and that of women in the movement, arguing that they had been excluded from leadership positions and assigned to do menial office tasks.

The meeting and the paper are widely credited with being one of the seminal moments in the birth of the feminist movement in the 1960s. Interestingly, the word “sexist” did not exist at that time. And it is interesting to note that the National Organization for Women (NOW) would not be created until June 30, 1966.

The paper was a collective effort involving a number of women, but activists Mary King and Casey Hayden are generally credited with writing it (see their memoirs, below). King and Hayden later wrote another article that was published in the pacifist magazine, Liberation.

The memoirs of both King and Hayden refute one of the most widespread stories about the response to the paper. It is often written that SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael responded by stating publicly that the place of women in the movement is “prone.” Both King and Hayden recall that he said it as a joke, and that they and others understood it as a joke at the time.

Chude Allen talks about the role of white and black women in the Movement. This 4-minute snippet is from a 2-hr interview conducted by students Sam Yancey ('22) and Simona Nigusse ('21) on November 6, 2020, 56 years to the day after the Waveland meeting. The full interview will be posted in the coming weeks.
Courlland Cox, Phyllis Cunningham, and Worth Long at SNCC's Waveland conference, November 1964.
Below: see full-text of the SNCC Position Paper, including this intro by Chude Allen:
This paper was written by a group of women in the fall of 1964 and submitted anonymously at the SNCC meeting in Waveland, Mississippi. At least three of the women have written about that experience, Mary King in Freedom Song, and Elaine DeLott Baker and Casey Hayden in Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement. Their stories all correct inaccuracies in Sara Evans's account in the 1979 book, Personal Politics: The Roots of Women's Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left.

November 5, 1957

Crusade for Citizenship Announced by Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Committee (SCLC)

Excerpted in whole from The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University

SCLC members met at Mount Olive CME Cathedral in Memphis on 5 November to set plans for the Crusade for Citizenship. This statement, released during a press conference at the conclusion of the one-day meeting, reiterates their conviction that “until the Negro possesses the right to vote, America's economic, social and political institutions cannot be free to meet the full needs of the American people.


In the struggle for civil rights Negroes for many decades have relied in a large part on appeals for justice to public officials. Today, the letters and telegrams we have sent to the Executive Branch of Government will be effective according to the political activity of the masses of Negroes at the local level. As I pointed out at the Prayer Pilgrimage to Washington, there cannot be citizenship without the right to vote. A voteless citizen is no citizen. Men ane women who can not vote are forcibly exiled from their national heritage. That the Negro remains a patriotic American while deprived of this sacred right is a tribute to his deep allegiance to his nation, its ideals and its promise of Democracy.

We are now embarking upon an historic campaign—The Crusade for Citizenship. We intend to encourage every Negro in the South to register and to vote. We intend to make the citizenship of Negroes a living reality.

There is no problem the Negro now faces which is not closely related to the fact that he does not or cannot vote. Once he has seen this relationship and has begun to vote, he will not only insure his own rights but also will enrich our nation as a whole.

We are realistic. We do not expect all those who have denied the Negro his right to vote to welcome this Crusade for Citizenship, without some resistance. However, we are determined as never before to pursue our objective with firm, unyielding and non-violent action. Beyond this we know that millions of white Southerns recognize the justice of our cause, appreciate the spirit of our method and stand four-square that the time has come when all Americans should exercise the duties and responsibilities of citizenship.

This effort is not for Negroes alone. It serves to restore the honor and integrity of our nation as a whole. For until the Negro possesses the right to vote, America's economic, social, and political institutions cannot be free to meet the full needs of the American people.

{Statement Dr. Martin Luther King}

From undated SCLC pamphlet sometime after Nov. 5, 1957. Click image for full document.

November 4, 1963

School Protests Begin in Chester, Pennsylvania, Dubbed "Birmingham of the North" By COFO Director, James Farmer

Excerpted in part from African American residents of Chester, PA, demonstrate to end de facto segregation in public schools, 1963-1966, Global Nonviolent Action Database

African American parents in the small city of Chester, PA organized and demanded better conditions at their local elementary school, Franklin School. They picketed the school and blocked its doors, successfully shutting it down for several days. A picket line outside the school began on Monday, November 4, 1963. The picket line started with 20 protesters, but by Wednesday the number was up to 150.

The protesters also staged sit-ins in the City Hall, municipal building, and the Board of Education's offices. After several weeks of protest, the campaign grew to encompass desegregation efforts of 10 of Chester's public elementary and middle schools.

On Friday, November 15, 1963, hundreds of Chester residents assembled at the doors of Franklin School for another demonstration. Police began arresting protesters at 8 a.m. and charged them with unlawful assembly and near riot. On Friday night, 1,000 protesters marched from Temple Baptist Church to the Chester Police Station and demonstrated outside the station for half an hour.

November 3, 1958

James Lawson, Leader of the Movement's Nonviolent Strategy and Methods, Writes Martin Luther King Confirming His Commitment to the Helping in the South

Excerpted in whole from The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University
In February 1957 King gave a series of talks at Oberlin College where Lawson, recently returned from a three-year stay in India, was pursuing a master's degree.1 At a luncheon following King's first address, the two men discussed their mutual interest in Gandhian nonviolence and civil disobedience. Impressed by Lawson's background, King encouraged him to come South without delay; Lawson followed King's advice and went to work as a southern secretary for the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Lawson enclosed in this letter a 30 October report on the racial situation in Birmingham that he had prepared for Will Campbell of the National Council of Churches.

Dear Martin:

It is good to know that you are back in Montgomery again and see from your statement from the early part of this month that your recent experience in New York has served only to strengthen your Christian life and understanding.3 I, like everyone else, was quite shocked to suddenly hear of this incident. The more I thought of it, however, the more it seemed to me somehow that this was God’s way of speaking to you. It convinces me further that he has great plans for you in the achieving of a beloved community in our time. Rest assured of my continuing prayer and high regard for you.

I have just returned from Birmingham and thought that you would be interested in the enclosed report made for Will Campbell and Glenn Smiley.4 The National Council of Churches paid my expenses to the city on Monday in order to have a first-hand observation on the tensions there. As I suggest in this report we may be on the threshold of a major breakthrough in Birmingham. However, so much of this is dependent upon the unity of the leadership. I suspect that Fred ShuttIesworth, in spite of his great courage and drive, is in real need of personal counseling which probably can only come from you.

I have no new word on Little Rock.5 On my last visit there, a committee was organized with the intention of exploring the possibilities of a non-violent method of speaking to the conscience of that city. I have not had a recent report on that committee or any progress made with this idea. I go this weekend to conduct a workshop on Christian non-violence sponsored by LeMoyne College for the entire community.

Although you were greatly missed at the Norfolk meeting of the SCLC, I personally felt that it was a very fine session. The men raised real questions concerning non-violence and some seemed deeply committed to the discipline and study of it. I have been convinced for nearly 12 years now that the only hope for the Negro in this country is a genuine movement of non-violence which reflects many of the characteristics of the Montgomery boycott and which strikes not only at the fear of the Negro but also at the power structure of the nation which continue to perpetuate social injustice. If this is to happen it will be because of the ministry uniting as one body and giving initiative leadership to the countless number of Negroes who urgently want such leadership.

I trust that your recuperation will continue and that you will soon be again engaged in your ministry and in the south-wide task of reconciliation.

Cordially yours,

J. M. Lawson, Jr.

lick below to access the SNCC Digital Gateway feature on James Lawson, including recorded interviews.

November 2, 1964

Black Mississippians Turn Out for a Second Mississippi Freedom Vote in Attempt to Seat Black Congress Members, 1-Year After 83,000 Vote in '63

In the fall of 1963, as Mississippi shifted into high gear for the November gubernatorial election, only 12,000 Black people were registered to vote. Most whites did not even believe that Black people wanted to vote, and this attitude spilled over into the federal government and national news media. The terror that kept disenfranchisement and white power in place was invisible. COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) decided to initiate a Freedom Vote to show Washington and the entire country that if they could register without intimidation and discrimination, Black people would show up to vote in huge numbers. So, COFO planned to educate and register Black Mississippians to vote in a mock election for governor. Registration sites were set up in Black communities.

Aaron Henry of the NAACP, was chosen as the candidate for Governor. Tougaloo College chaplain, Ed King, was selected as his Lieutenant Governor. With the Freedom Vote ticket in order, COFO embarked on a three-week campaign that included rallies, organizing polling sites, and generally spreading the word about the Freedom Vote across Mississippi.

From November 2nd – 4th, over Black Mississippians voted at Sunday church services, in beauty parlors, and pool halls. 83,000 Mississippians cast their ballot in the 1963 Freedom Vote for Henry and King. The Freedom Vote, as SNCC chairman John Lewis wrote, “laid the foundation for a “powerful, Black-led, state-wide, political organization…It was the beginning of the MFDP, in terms of having a mass base, a mass following in Mississippi.”

A year later, following the MFDP's failed attempt to seat their delegation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, the MFDP decided to challenge the seating of Mississippi’s congressmen by fielding another Freedom Vote.

With the help of roughly 300 volunteers and SNCC staff, the MFDP crisscrossed the state to promote their candidates for upcoming congressional elections. Fannie Lou Hamer squared off against James Whitten for the 2nd District congressional seat. Victoria Gray Adams took on William Colmer in the 5th District. And Annie Devine contested William Winstead for the 4th District’s spot. The Freedom Ballot was topped by Johnson and Humphrey–the MFDP was the only “party element” that remained loyal to the national ticket. White Mississippians almost unanimously supported Republican candidate Barry Goldwater for the Oval Office.

Between October 31st and November 2nd, 1964, 60,000 Black Mississippians participated in the Freedom Vote. The freedom candidates won handedly. Mrs. Hamer out-voted Whitten 33,009 to 59. Annie Devine won 6,001 to 5, and Victoria Gray Adams beat Colmer by 10,000 votes.

The MFDP knew that the candidates were not going to be seated in Congress due to the results of a mock election. Nonetheless, “we had irrefutable proof of the systematic manner in which Mississippi’s blacks were excluded from participation in the electoral process,” explained SNCC’s Cleveland Sellers. Moreover, the Freedom Vote proved that Black citizens would vote, if not for the violence and intimidation that surrounded the franchise.

With the November Freedom Vote completed, the battle shifted to the nation’s capital, where the newly formed Washington office of the MFDP had to drum up congressional support for the challenge.

From the“The Freedom Vote is Open to All,” The Student Voice, October 28, 1964. Read the full slate descriptions.
Campaign posters for Fannie Lou Hamer and Aaron Henry. Below is poster for the national party ticket, Johnson-Humphrey, 1964, MFDP Papers, WHS
Campaign poster for Victoria Gray, 1964, Political Campaign Posters, WHS
Freedom Candidates, Freedom Ballot flyer, November 1963

November 1, 1961

Albany Movement Forms As SNCC Activists Test New ICC Rules Mandating Desegregated Interstate Transportation

Excerpted in whole and in part from SNCC Digital Gateway

In October 1961, SNCC field secretaries Charles Sherrod and Cordell Reagon, later joined by Charles Jones, traveled to Albany, Georgia where local citizens, especially students at Albany State College (today Albany State University), an HBCU, were heating up the civil rights struggle. They had come to conduct workshops on nonviolence and to initiate voter registration efforts. At the time, although Albany’s population was was 40 percent Black, few were registered to vote. The city itself was completely segregated. Recalled Sherrod, “When we first came to Albany, the people were afraid, really afraid…” Locals were scared of white retaliation due to the culture of fear created by Police Chief Laurie Pritchett.

In order to “cut through that fear,” as Sherrod put it, the SNCC organizers turned to local students for assistance. They began working with students at Albany State College, Monroe High and Carver Junior High Schools. Some of these students were members of the NAACP youth chapter. The first community meeting was held the same month as their arrival in the basement of Bethel A.M.E. Church, where Rev. Ben Gay was pastor. The two SNCC workers taught the locals freedom songs and talked about conditions in Albany. Soon they began conducting small group meetings and workshops on direct action, boycotts, sit-ins, and other nonviolent methods of direct action resistance.

On November 1, 1961, students decided to test an Interstate Commerce Commission ruling that no bus facility, bus, or driver could deny access to its facilities based on race. NAACP leaders were uncomfortable with the decision to test this ruling but went along with it, fearing that they would lose influence with local students to SNCC.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. that afternoon, as Black community members came out to watch from the lunchrooms, pool rooms, and other public facilities, nine students went to the bus station. According to Sherrod, “The bus station was full of men in blue [Georgia’s state police] but up through the mass of people, past the men with guns and billies ready, into the terminal they marched quietly and clean.” As planned, when ordered out by the police, the students left the station without being arrested and then filed an immediate complaint with the ICC under the new ruling.

Albany police chief Laurie Pritchett (center left) with civil rights activist Slater King (center right) in Shiloh Baptist Church, where Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee members first met. A. E. Jenkins Photography. Undated.
Slater King and Irene Asbury Wright lead a group of protestors in Albany. Wright, dean of students at Albany State College, resigned in protest on hearing that Albany State students had been expelled for participating in demonstrations. A. E. Jenkins Photography. Images and captions above from the New Georgia Encyclopedia. Undated.

On November 22, just a few days before the Thanksgiving holiday, three young people from the NAACP youth council and two SNCC volunteers from Albany State were arrested in the Trailways terminal. The NAACP youth council members were released on bond immediately after their arrest. However, SNCC volunteers Bertha Gober and Blanton Hall declined bail and chose to remain in jail over the holidays to dramatize their demand for justice.

After the holiday, more than 100 Albany State students marched from campus to the courthouse where they protested the arrest of Gober and Hall. A mass meeting–the first in Albany’s history–occurred at Mt. Zion Baptist church to protest the arrests, segregation, and decades of racial discrimination. The music, especially, was powerful, mirroring the Movement that had begun to emerge. Reflecting on this this moment, Bernice Johnson Reagon said, “When I opened my mouth and began to sing, there was a force and power within myself I had never heard before. Somehow this music … released a kind of power and required a level of concentrated energy I did not know I had.”

Following this act of defiance, a coalition was formed between the Ministerial Alliance, NAACP, Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Negro Voters League, and SNCC. It was referred to as the Albany Movement, and its goal was to end all forms of segregation and discrimination in the region.

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On June 1, 2020, in part as a response prompted by the George Floyd murder and subsequent re-awakening of the general public to the history of racist struggles, I started a daily practice of finding a relevant moment in Freedom Rights Movement anniversary history. I've found this both personally cathartic – engaging in daily consciousness of the ongoing struggle over the past 400 years – as well as potentially useful for future students.

~Howard Levin

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