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The U.S. Civil Rights Movement
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/019-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader, is seen with a portrait of her late husband on January 14, 1972, at a time when she was lobbying to have his birthday declared a federal holiday. In her 1969 autobiography, My Life With Martin Luther King Jr., she wrote, “Because his task was not finished, I felt that I must rededicate myself to the completion of his work.” In 1970, she established the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center in Atlanta, a site that includes King’s boyhood home and the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he is buried. During the 1970s and 1980s, Coretta Scott King worked to establish January 15 as a holiday. By 1983, the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly passed a bill declaring the third Monday in January a federal holiday, observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. Corretta Scott King died at age 78 on January 30, 2006. Several months later, on November 13, 2006, three of the Kings’ four children broke ground on the National Mall for a long-planned Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/018-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Martin Luther King Jr. stands with other civil rights leaders (from left, Hosea Williams, Jesse Jackson, King, and Ralph Abernathy) on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968. King went to Memphis in early April 1968 to lead a peaceful march in support of garbage workers there. At age 39, he was already a Nobel Laureate and had won major victories in ending segregation, making civil rights a part of the legal fabric of the United States. But his aides have said, looking back, that death was on his mind. King made a speech in Memphis that he had made many times before, but seemed more moved than at earlier times. He ended, “I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” King, while standing on the same motel balcony, was shot to death on April 4, 1968. Today, the site houses a Civil Rights Museum. (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/017-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: President Johnson stands with Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall in Washington on June 13, 1967, following Johnson’s nomination of Marshall to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court, where Marshall had argued 32 cases, winning 29 and strengthening the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment prohibits depriving any person the “equal protection of the laws.” But in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Supreme Court had ruled that separating the races did not deprive blacks of equal protection. Segregationist practices were for years thereafter condoned as being “separate but equal.” As a lawyer, Marshall chipped away at Plessy v. Ferguson and the legal cover it had given Southern states to run inferior public schools for blacks. In 1950, he won the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned Plessy and set the stage for the work of King and other civil rights activists. A historic United Press International report describes Marshall as “an outstanding tactician with exceptional attention to detail, a tenacious ability to focus on a goal – and a deep voice that often was termed the loudest in the room. He also possessed a charm so extraordinary that even the most intransigent Southern segregationist sheriff could not resist his stories and jokes.” (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/016-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Volunteers assist with voter registration in Americus, Georgia, on August 9, 1965. Although blacks long had held the legal right to vote, political realities in the South made it difficult for them to register. Racists had discouraged black registration through threats of violence, and black citizens who sought to register despite the threats frequently were given subjective or unfairly administered tests, and then notified that they had failed. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave the federal government authority over the voting registration process in six southern states and some counties in other states, and prohibited qualifying tests or registration fees. After 1965, black voter registration rose significantly in the South. In Mississippi, blacks were 7 percent of registered voters in 1965, but 70 percent in 1969. Commenting on preparation of a 2004 exhibit at the Civil Rights Museum on the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, curator Barbara Andrews said: “Somewhere in the process, it became very real to me that a mere 40 years ago -- barely the halfway point of a life expectancy today -- African Americans were protesting and being beaten and killed for this right. It's remarkable.” (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/015-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: John Lewis, the leader of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, is beaten by a state trooper March 7, 1965, as he attempts to march with 600 others from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in a right-to-vote demonstration. Protestors crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma walked into a force of state troopers and civilians who attacked them with tear gas, clubs and whips. Many marchers suffered broken bones and temporary blindness by tear gas. They left the scene in ambulances or stumbled back over the bridge and into Selma. The day’s violence, later known as “Bloody Sunday,” led King to call for another, larger march from Selma to Montgomery. One week after the attack, Johnson announced he would submit legislation to Congress to ensure all citizens would be able to vote. Lewis was jailed several times as a young civil rights leader. His career path underscores the importance of the voting rights: Lewis has been elected, repeatedly, to Congress, where he represents the fifth district of Georgia. (Library of Congress)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/014-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes hands with Martin Luther King Jr. after presenting him with one of the pens used to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Johnson “hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves,” historian Branch told USINFO. The president steered Civil Rights Act of 1964 through Congress, something King did not think the late President Kennedy would have done. When the bill’s passage was threatened by a Senate filibuster, Johnson lobbied for a final vote and eventually accepted several amendments to end the filibuster. One week later, Congress sent the legislation to the White House for the president’s signature. In a television address that evening, Johnson said of segregation: “It cannot continue. Our Constitution, the foundation of our Republic, forbids it. Morality forbids it. And the law I will sign tonight forbids it.” (Library of Congress)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/013-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Mourners follow the coffin of a bombing victim during a funeral in Birmingham, Alabama. The victim was one of four young girls -- Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley -- killed in a September 15, 1963, bombing. The four girls, ages 11-14, were killed by a bomb detonated at the Sixteenth Street Baptist church in Birmingham, where, wearing white dresses, they had been preparing to lead a youth service. “We thought it would have been a safe place, but the racists didn’t think so,” Walker, King’s chief of staff said. He said King attended the funerals to help the parents and because, having approved of children marching against segration, he “felt keenly” about the murders. Earlier in 1963, thousands of children had met at the church to begin nonviolent protest marches. Some were jailed; when the jails were full, others were dispersed by police dogs and high-powered hoses. Such treatment of children, photographed by the media, brought the civil rights movement new support from around the world, but it also put children at risk. In Pillar of Fire, Branch reports that the girls’ funerals “produced the largest interracial collections of clergy in Birmingham history, but no city officials attended.” (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/012-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little, holds up a newspaper headline that echoes his message at a Black Muslim rally on August 6, 1963. Little, at age 21, was given a 10-year prison sentence for burglary. While in jail, he became interested in the Nation of Islam, a Muslim sect led by Elijah Muhammad, who advocated separation of the races. Paroled in 1952, Little adopted the name Malcolm X and quickly became a leader of the Black Muslim movement. A charismatic speaker who initially rejected King’s peaceful approach to promoting civil rights, Malcolm X, by 1965, had recanted some of his more strident views but remained committed to promoting empowerment of blacks. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1964 during a speech in New York. His was “a life cut short, way too soon, like so many others” in the civil rights and black power movements, said Barbara Andrews, curator of the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis. (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/011-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on August 28, 1963. At the end of a long, hot day, King was introduced as the “moral leader of the nation” to a crowd of more than 200,000 people who had come to Washington to demand legislation to ensure black people be given the same civil rights whites enjoyed. King’s daughter Yolanda, speaking in November 2006, recalled her father’s voice as “velvet” yet also commanding as he called on America to make good its promises of freedom and justice for all citizens. “I was here, with Dr. King,” Congressman John Lewis said, recalling the 1963 March on Washington, as he joined Yolanda at the groundbreaking for a King memorial in Washington. Lewis, motioning toward the Lincoln Memorial steps, where King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, said King “transformed those steps.” King’s speech brought the crowd to life, with its simple images and repeated phrases, saying his people would not be satisfied “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/010-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Governor George Wallace stands in a doorway to prevent black students from registering at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa on June 11, 1963. At right, Nicholas Katzenbach, deputy attorney general of the United States listens to Wallace. Prospective black students Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood tried to register at the university, but Wallace took his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” to prevent the integration that was mandated by federal law. During this period in U.S. history, some Southern politicians sought to increase their popularity with white voters by flouting federal court decisions. In this case, Wallace’s stance was symbolic – the two students enrolled later in the day without incident. But Wallace, despite renouncing his stance later, remained a symbol of racism for years to come. (National Archives)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/009-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Martin Luther King Jr. looks through the bars of a Burmingham, Alabama, cell in April 1963. In spring 1963, civil rights leaders campaigned for desegregation in Birmingham. They hoped to focus attention on the harsh treatment of peaceful protesters by city officials. Demonstrating in Birmingham, King was jailed for holding marches without a permit. While imprisoned, King responded to a published letter from moderate white preachers criticizing the campaign with the famous Letter From a Birmingham Jail, begun in scribbled notes in newspaper margins. Wyatt Walker, King’s chief of staff, typed King’s letter after it was smuggled out. “I thought it was important; it read like a letter from the Apostle Paul in the New Testament,” he said from a Virginia retirement home. The letter “spoke to me,” Walker said. “The argument is so clear and incisive.” The letter, not initially noticed by the press, was published by the Friends Service Committee in Philadelphia with the title Tears of Love. “I said, ‘no, it should be called Letter From a Birmingham Jail,’” Walker said, because like many scriptural letters, it addresses a particular group, from a particular place. (National Archives)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/008-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: James Meredith, accompanied by federal officials, enrolls on October, 1, 1962, at the University of Mississippi. In September 1962, a federal court ordered the university to accept Meredith, a 28-year-old, black Air Force veteran, much to the consternation of segregationists. Governor Ross Barnett said he would never allow the school to be integrated. After days of violence and rioting by whites and a great deal of political maneuvering between Barnett and the administration, President John F. Kennedy sent more than 10,000 soldiers to ensure the safety of Meredith on his first day of classes. Because he had earned college credits elsewhere, Meredith graduated the following August. (Library of Congress)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/007-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Members of the "Washington Freedom Riders Committee," en route to Washington from New York, hang signs from bus side windows to protest segregation. In the early 1960s, members of the Congress of Racial Equality, a group promoting nonviolent methods to achieve racial equality, rode on public buses and trains in an integrated group to protest ongoing segregation of transportation networks. Segregation aboard buses traveling between states had been illegal since 1946, and a 1960 Supreme Court decision had extended earlier rulings by banning segregation in waiting rooms and restaurants serving interstate bus passengers. The “freedom riders” emerged from the first meeting of the Congress of Racial Equality, led by National Director James Farmer. They were beaten in Birmingham, Alabama; firebombed near Anniston, Alabama; and mobbed and handcuffed in Jackson, Mississippi. (Library of Congress)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/006-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Members of the North Carolina Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, depicted at the Tottle House lunch counter in Atlanta in 1960, sparked sit-ins by students across the South. These SNCC veterans were not facing violence that day at Tottle House. “We stayed for two or three hours,” said Charles Neblett (smoking pipe in foreground). “We would talk to the waitress, we would let people know why we were there. We would sing, and actually have a meeting there.” At other times, the students would be locked out and protest on the sidewalk, halting business. Often the students were beaten by thugs. Sometimes, Neblett said, “We’d go inside, and thugs would put out cigarettes on us and do hideous things” – pour hot coffee or condiments over them. At many sit-ins, police would take them to jail, but a new group of students would take their places. “We had to keep up the pressure. We had to put our bodies on the line .... We showed we just disagreed,” Neblett said. (Library of Congress)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/005-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Demonstrators, including many ministers, picket the F.W. Woolworth store in New York, April 14, 1960, in protest of the store's lunch-counter segregation at southern branches of its chain. In 1960, four black freshmen from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College in Greensboro, North Carolina, entered the F.W. Woolworth store and sat down at the lunch counter. They were not served. The next day they came with 19 more students. Within two weeks, similar lunch-counter “sit-ins” spread to several cities; within a year, demonstrations were held in more than 100 cities in the South and the North. Their commitment led to the desegregation of the F. W. Woolworth lunch counters on July 25, 1960. (Library of Congress)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/004-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: September 4, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford – one of nine black students attempting to attend Central High School, in Little Rock, Arkansas – is met with jeers and turned back by National Guard troops. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus, defying a federal order, had ordered the troops to stop the black students. With each passing day, the threat of serious violence escalated, as the students repeatedly attempted to enter the school only to be rebuffed by angry mobs and state troopers. President Dwight Eisenhower, losing patience, commanded the National Guard to enforce the court order authorizing the students’ attendance. On September 23, 1957, when the “Little Rock Nine” again attempted to enter, the National Guard troops had been withdrawn, leaving the students undefended from the mob. The students were evacuated by police. Two days later the U.S. Army, dispatched to Little Rock by the president, safeguarded the entry of the black students. Even after their attendance was secured, those student suffered a “year-long ordeal” marked by mistreatment by white students, says historian Branch in his book Parting the Waters. (National Park Service)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/003-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Martin Luther King Jr. (left), Fred Shuttlesworth (center) and Ralph Abernathy (right), three pivotal leaders of the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s, hold a press conference in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. All were Baptist ministers who led churches in Alabama during the early days of the civil rights movement -- King and Abernathy in Montgomery and Shuttlesworth in Birmingham. In the United States, black churches historically provided leadership, on material and spiritual questions, to their communities; those leaders headed the civil rights movement as well. “We never got the kind of leadership from politicians that the movement required,” said King’s chief of staff, Wyatt Tee Walker Sr. He called the primacy of Baptist ministers in the movement “predictable.” King and Abernathy began to work together in 1955 during the Montgomery bus boycott. Shuttlesworth joined with them in 1957 in founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, to organize nonviolent protests. All the men suffered jailings and violence as a result of their participation. (© AP Images)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/002-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: Rosa Parks is fingerprinted at a police station after her arrest in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1, 1955, Parks, a department store seamstress, boarded a bus for home. The seats filled up, with blacks in back rows and whites in front. When a white man boarded, four black passengers, including Parks, were asked to get up and stand in back. Three complied; Parks refused. She subsequently was arrested for breaking Alabama’s segregation laws. Parks was a “tireless worker and churchgoer, of working-class station and middle-class demeanor,” writes Taylor Branch, in his book Parting the Waters. She proved the perfect litigant in a legal test the movement’s leaders had been seeking. As the lawyers prepared for trial, teachers at Alabama State made leaflets announcing a boycott by blacks of the Montgomery bus system. The boycott lasted a year, causing crippling economic damage and testing the resolve of local blacks. The legal fight rose through the U.S. judicial system to the Supreme Court, which upheld a federal court ruling that nullified Alabama’s and Montgomery’s requirements for segregation on buses. (Library of Congress)
 
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Url: http://photos.state.gov/libraries/usinfo-photo/39/civil_rights_07/001-CivilRights.jpg
Caption: U.S. Deputy Marshals escort 6-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in November 1960. The first grader was the only black child enrolled in the school. A landmark legal decision that led to integration of U.S. public schools was triggered by a Kansas welder’s desire for his daughter to attend a whites-only school closer to home than the school for blacks. Brown v. Board of Education took three years to reach the Supreme Court, where it was argued by Thurgood Marshall, chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and future justice of the Supreme Court. The case would affect much more than whether students could attend schools close to home. When the court unanimously ruled on May 17, 1954, in favor of Brown, it ended years of school segregation authorized by a 1896 Supreme Court decision that found “separate but equal” facilities for the races were constitutional. As Southern states and counties resisted integrating schools, enforcement would absorb federal government agencies, lawyers and even the president for many years to come. (© AP Images)