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Separate but Equal? One Hundred Years of Overcoming

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1 Separate but Equal? One Hundred Years of Overcoming
Level 2 presentation Separate but Equal? One Hundred Years of Overcoming Segregation in the South Mississippi Department of Archives and History 2011

2 Level 2 presentation Freedom from Slavery During the Civil War, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the states in open rebellion only. Following the Civil War, during Reconstruction, several amendments and acts were added to the U.S. Constitution. 13th Amendment in 1865 – outlaws slavery. Civil Rights Act of 1866 – tried to give citizenship to all native-born Americans. 14th Amendment in 1868 – grants African Americans equal protection under the law. 15th Amendment in 1870– grants African American males the right to vote. Civil Rights Act of 1875 – grants equal access to public accommodations. The states in open rebellion did not include the “border states” – Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. What is an Amendment? Why were these three amendments important? Civil Rights Act of 1866 – granted citizenship to all but Native Americans. Freedmens Bureau – was a federal organization started by the U.S. War Department. “The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands… ...often referred to as the Freedmen's Bureau, was established in the War Department by an act of March 3, The Bureau supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen, including issuing rations, clothing and medicine. The Bureau also assumed custody of confiscated lands or property in the former Confederate States, border states, District of Columbia, and Indian Territory. The bureau records were created or maintained by bureau headquarters, the assistant commissioners and the state superintendents of education and included personnel records and a variety of standard reports concerning bureau programs and conditions in the states.” (http://freedmensbureau.com/freedmens-bureau, September 16, 2010.) Freedmens Bureau – A federal bureau organized to help freed slaves adjust to their new lives. Ku Klux Klan – is founded in Tennessee, but spreads across the south in reaction to Radical Republican control. Image courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History

3 Level 2 presentation The Rise of Jim Crow Jim Crow was a series of state and local laws in the United States passed from 1876 to 1965 that segregated public facilities. These facilities were segregated with the promise that they would be "separate but equal.” The Jim Crow laws applied to public facility restrooms, waiting areas, entrances, and schools. In practice however facilities for non-whites were not equal–they were inferior. The following laws and rulings were passed and sometimes written to make the Jim Crow possible and strengthen it. The U.S. Supreme Court nullifies the Civil Rights Act of 1875. Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution disenfranchises African Americans and poor whites. Plessy v. Ferguson – The U.S. Supreme Court decision validates “separate but equal.” 19th Amendment – grants women the right to vote in 1920. Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 – Native Americans are given citizenship and the right to vote. Early civil rights fighters and groups Ida B. Wells-Barnett – in 1883 Mississippi native Wells refused to give up her seat on the train to Memphis. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909. Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in 1942. U.S. Supreme Court took away the right of equal access to public accommodations. Mississippi’s 1890 Constitution was so craftily written to disenfranchise the African American population that it was used as a model for the rest of the southern states looking to get around rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and its amendments. Qualifications to vote - Poll Tax and Literacy Test – this affected not only some African Americans but also poor whites. They did not have much of an education but also they did not have much money due to the situation with share cropping and other restrictions placed on them by Mississippi society. Redrawing district lines to give whites more power through the elected officials. Plessy v. Ferguson upheld the constitutionality of an 1890 Louisiana statute requiring white and “colored” persons to be furnished “separate but equal” accommodations on railway passenger cars. Homer Adolph Plessy, who was seven-eights Caucasian and one-eighth African, paid for a first-class seat on a Louisiana railroad. He took a seat in the coach that was reserved for white passengers, but the conductor told him to leave the "white" car and go to the "colored" coach under threat of being expelled from the train and arrested. When Plessy refused, he was ejected from the train and imprisoned. (http://law.jrank.org/pages/9234/Plessy-v-Ferguson.html, 2010) 19th Amendment extended the right to vote to women in 1920. Native Americans were not allowed to vote or even considered citizens by the federal government until 1924! Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and became a school teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. She became a civil rights activist writing editorials and booklets on the injustices in the south. “The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and resting place of President Abraham Lincoln. Appalled at the violence that was committed against blacks, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both the descendants of abolitionists, William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice. Some 60 people, seven of whom were African American (including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell), signed the call, which was released on the centennial of Lincoln's birth.” (http://www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history, September 16, 2010) “The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) was founded in 1942 as the Committee of Racial Equality by an interracial group of students in Chicago-Bernice Fisher, James R. Robinson, James L. Farmer, Jr., Joe Guinn, George Houser, and Homer Jack. Many of these students were members of the Chicago branch of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a pacifist organization seeking to change racist attitudes. The founders of CORE were deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi's teachings of nonviolent resistance.” (http://www.core-online.org/History/history.htm , September 16, 2010) Image courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History

4 Testing the Waters Stirrings of change National actions
Level 2 presentation Testing the Waters Following World War II African American veterans returned home to the same world they had left. They began to question the segregation and the treatment of African Americans in a country that they had fought to defend. Stirrings of change CORE’s Journey of Reconciliation in 1947 tests the segregation of busing in America. In 1952 Women’s Air Corps Private Sarah Keys is arrested after refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus ride home to North Carolina. National actions In 1948 President Harry S. Truman starts the end of segregation in the U.S. Military with Executive Order 9981. 1955 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This U.S. Supreme Court bans the separate but equal standard and orders the integration of schools throughout the country. Journey of Reconciliation – “In 1946 the U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation in interstate bus travel. A year later the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Fellowship of Reconciliation tested the ruling by staging the Journey of Reconciliation, on which an interracial group of activists rode together on a bus through the upper South, though fearful of journeying to the Deep South.” (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/ /Journey-of-Reconciliation, 2010) WAC - “Women’s Army Corps was founded during World War II by some of the mothers of women in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) which later became the Women’s Army Corps. The purpose was to help both men and women by serving in hospitals and USOs, selling bonds, mending clothes, sending comfort packages to the WACs and doing anything they could to make life more comfortable for the men and women serving their country.” (http://www.armywomen.org/aboutUs.shtml, 2010) Executive Order 9981 – July 27, Violence against African American members of the U.S. Military during and following World War II prompted President Harry S. Truman to investigate African Americans’ treatment and opportunities for advancement in the United States Armed Forces. Two and one-half years after the end of World War II President Truman issues Executive Order 9981 to end segregation the U.S. Military. The President establishes the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services headed by Charles Fahy. The Fahy committee oversaw the integration of all the branches of the Armed Forces. The Navy had begun integration at the end of the war, and a year after E.O was signed, the Air Force was ready to integrate. The other branches were not so willing to accept the idea of integration. The Army continued to have separate African American units in 1950 and the Korean War. The breakdown of segregation in the Army occurred during the Korean War when the large number of African American recruits could not be accommodated in the African American units. By 1953 the U.S. Army announced that 95% of its African American soldiers were serving in integrated units. (http://www.trumanlibrary.org/9981.htm 2011) Brown v. Board of Education – “In 1950 the Topeka NAACP, led by McKinley Burnett, set out to organize a legal challenge to an 1879 state law that permitted racially segregated elementary schools in certain cities based on population. For Kansas this would become the 12th case filed in the tate focused on ending segregation in public schools. The local NAACP assembled a group of 13 parents who agreed to be plaintiffs on behalf of their 20 children. Following direction from legal counsel they attempted to enroll their children in segregated white schools and all were denied. Topeka operated eighteen neighborhood schools for white children, while African American children had access to only four schools. In February of 1951 the Topeka NAACP filed a case on their behalf. Although this was a class action it was named for one of the plaintiffs Oliver Brown. The case dismantled the legal basis for racial segregation in schools and other public facilities. The laws and policies were products of the human tendencies to prejudge, discriminate against, and stereotype other people by their ethnic, religious, physical, or cultural characteristics.” (http://brownvboard.org/summary/, 2010) Morgan v. Virginia – this case consisted of Virginia’s law requiring racial segregation in interstate public transportation. On July 16, 1944, twenty-seven-year-old Irene Morgan boarded a Greyhound bus in Gloucester County, bound for Baltimore via Washington, D.C. After standing for several miles and sitting on the lap of an accommodating young black female passenger, Morgan finally took a seat three rows from the back of the bus, in front of some white passengers. When the bus became crowded as it reached Saluda, Virginia, the bus driver insisted that Morgan yield her seat to a white passenger. After she refused and was forcibly removed from the bus, Morgan was arrested, tried, and convicted of violating a state segregation ordinance, and fined ten dollars, which she refused to pay. In a 7 to 1 ruling, the Court reversed the Virginia appellate court and struck down the Virginia law and, by extension, all similar laws in other states mandating Jim Crow practices on interstate conveyances. In April 1947, sixteen interracial passengers—eight white, eight black, and all members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR)—engaged in a "Journey of Reconciliation" to test adherence to the decision and to help educate people about the Court's decision. The journey was a precursor to the Freedom Rides that would pass through Virginia in May (http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Morgan_v_Virginia_1946, 2011) Image courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History

5 The Integration Movement Begins
Level 2 presentation The Integration Movement Begins After the Brown v. Board of Education decision, the push for integration grew. Other Supreme Court decisions would make integration beyond the classroom a possibility and the effort to make it a reality came to life. For those who challenged the “separate but equal ” standard, the chosen form of protest against Jim Crow was non-violence. Protesters would not physically fight, but passively demand change . National actions that start change in motion U.S. Supreme Court states that separate but equal should not apply to interstate bus travel in its 1955 Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company decision. With the help of the U.S. Military and President Eisenhower, Little Rock Central High School is forcibly integrated in 1957. Taking a Stand for Integration Rosa Parks is arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat in1955. The 1957 integration of the city buses ends the 381 day Montgomery Bus Boycott. Also in 1957 the Southern Christian Leadership Council is formed to fight segregation with non-violence. Taking a Stand for Segregation The Mississippi Sovereignty Commission is formed and funded by the state of Mississippi in 1956. In 1957 Sovereignty Commission condones films and speakers advocating segregation as “wholesome and good.” 1. Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company – “In 1952 Private Keys was granted a furlough to visit her parents in Washington, North Carolina, and purchased a bus ticket home. Traveling from Ft. Dix, New Jersey, when the bus reached Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, there was a change in buses. Keys, who was seated at the front of the bus was asked by the bus driver to exchange seats with a white Marine seated near the back of the bus. She refused to move from her seat so the driver removed all passengers except for her to another bus. Keys was not allowed to board the second bus and was arrested by force and charged with disorderly conduct.” (http://www.womensmemorial.org/Education/BHMSys.html, 2010) 2. Southern Christian Leadership Council -“… the founding of the Southern Leadership Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration. They issued a document declaring that civil rights are essential to democracy, that segregation must end, and that all Black people should reject segregation absolutely and nonviolently.” (http://www.sclcnational.org/core/item/page.aspx?s= , September 16, 2010) 3. Mississippi Sovereignty Commission – “The Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission (Commission) was created by an act of the Mississippi legislature on March 29, … The act creating the Commission provided the agency with broad powers. The Commission's objective was to "do and perform any and all acts deemed necessary and proper to protect the sovereignty of the state of Mississippi, and her sister states . . .” from perceived "encroachment thereon by the Federal Government or any branch, department or agency thereof.” (http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/scagencycasehistory.php, September 16, 2010)

6 Level 2 presentation Freedom Rides With the U.S. Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia, a national movement to integrate public facilities begins. More groups took shape to fight the ongoing segregation. The Freedom Rides brought national attention to not only segregation in the south, but also the violence that was behind its enforcement. Pressure from the federal government for integration increases. 1961 Boynton v. Virginia – U.S. Supreme Court stated racial segregation on public transportation and related public facilities is illegal under the Interstate Commerce Act. Freedom Rides – In 1961 CORE organizes inter-racial groups of riders for a bus ride through the south. Eventually all forms of public transportation are tested with the Freedom Rides. On May 4, 1961 the Riders left from Washington, D.C. bound for the south and New Orleans. They met resistance and violence to their presence and actions in South Carolina and other stops on the trip. The violence reached its peak in Alabama. The federal government made a deal for the safety of the Freedom Riders in Mississippi, so further public violence could be avoided. Riders were arrested in Jackson and given the choice of jail or bail. Those who chose jail suffered many indignities at the hands of the authorities behind closed doors. Boynton v. Virginia – “This case interprets the idea that interstate facilities were for the use of all citizens regardless of race. In 1958, Bruce Boynton, a black student at Howard University Law School took a Trailways bus from Washington to his home in Montgomery, Alabama. On a 40-minute layover at the Trailways Bus Terminal in Richmond, Virginia, the passengers went inside to eat. Boynton entered the segregated restaurant, sat in the white section and ordered a sandwich and tea. When asked to move to the colored section, he refused and was arrested by local police. He was charged with trespassing, and fined $10.” (http://law.jrank.org/pages/24302/Boynton-v-Virginia-Significance.html, 2010) FREEDOM RIDES “The first Freedom Ride took place on May 4, 1961 when seven blacks and six whites left Washington, D.C., on two public buses bound for the Deep South. They intended to test the Supreme Court’s ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional.   In the first few days, the riders encountered only minor hostility, but in the second week the riders were severely beaten. Outside Anniston, Alabama, one of their buses was burned, and in Birmingham several dozen whites attacked the  riders only two blocks from the sheriff's office. With the intervention of the U.S. Justice Department, most of CORE’s Freedom Riders were evacuated from Birmingham, Alabama, to New Orleans. John Lewis, a former seminary student who would later lead SNCC and become a U.S. congressman, stayed in Birmingham. CORE leaders decided that letting violence end the trip would send the wrong signal to the country. They reinforced the pair of remaining riders with volunteers, and the trip continued. The group traveled from Birmingham to Montgomery without incident, but on their arrival in Montgomery they were savagely attacked by a mob of more than 1000 whites. The extreme violence and the indifference of local police prompted a national outcry of support for the riders, putting pressure on President Kennedy to end the violence.  The riders continued to Mississippi, where they endured further brutality and jail terms but generated more publicity and inspired dozens more Freedom Rides. By the end of the summer, the protests had spread to train stations and airports across the south, and in November, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued rules prohibiting segregated transportation facilities.” (http://core-online.org/History/freedom%20rides.htm, September 17, 2010) 3. Federal deal with Mississippi – “Using (Senator) Eastland, (former Governor) Coleman, and Jackson mayor Allen Thompson as intermediaries, the Kennedys made a deal with (Governor) Barnett: if the state promised to protect the riders , the White House would not interfere while local police arrested them as they entered the “white” waiting room at the Jackson bus terminal. The assumption held by both sides was there would be only one bus and that the riders would post bond after their arrest. Then things would return to normal.” (Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, pg. 93.) 4. Arrest in Jackson – riders were arrested for breach of the peace as they entered the bus terminal and attempted to integrate the facility. 5. Jail no Bail – “… when the first group came to trial, Judge James L. Spencer quickly found all defendants guilty of breach of the peace, fined them $200, and gave them sixty-day suspended sentences. The defendants refuse to admit their guilt by paying the fine. Nor did they post bail. (James) Farmer and most of the other riders chose to remain in jail for thirty-nine days, the maximum time they could serve and still appeal their convictions. … …by the end of the summer, 328 of them (riders) had been arrested in Jackson. Of these riders, two-thirds were college students, three-fourths were men, and more than half were black.” (Dittmer, Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi, pg. 95.) Image courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History

7 Integration Takes Root
Level 2 presentation Integration Takes Root The Freedom Rides were the start of a major movement for civil rights. Following the rides national groups such as CORE, SNCC, NAACP, would have a more active presence in Mississippi. Integration slowly took root and other events such as the 1964 Freedom Summer encouraged African American Mississippians to register and vote to change Mississippi. Civil rights activists in Mississippi demonstrated extraordinary courage and determination in facing threats and loss of employment and money. – Integration fight in Mississippi 1962 – After numerous attempts to block his admission and riots, African American James Meredith is admitted to the University of Mississippi under the protection of the federal government as riots rage in Oxford. 1963 – Tougaloo College students begin sit-ins in downtown Jackson that result in 50 arrests of college and high school students and the beatings of two men. 1963–1964 – During Mississippi’s violent Freedom Summer, SNCC and other groups help African Americans register and vote. 1968 – U.S. Supreme Court after many attempts demands that segregation in schools must end at once. 1970 – Thirty-one years after Brown v. Board of Education , Mississippi declares its schools fully integrated. 1970 Integration of Mississippi schools. (The Last Stand of Massive Resistance: Mississippi Public School Integration, 1970 Charles C. Bolton, Mississippi History Now, September 17, 2010) Image courtesy of Mississippi Department of Archives and History


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