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UMass Lowell Library Resources on Racism in the United States

Civil Rights in the 1950s - Crash Course

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Great Books

The Jim Crow Routine

The South's system of Jim Crow racial oppression is usually understood in terms of legal segregation that mandated the separation of white and black Americans. Yet, as Stephen A. Berrey shows, it was also a high-stakes drama that played out in the routines of everyday life, where blacks and whites regularly interacted on sidewalks and buses and in businesses and homes. Every day, individuals made, unmade, and remade Jim Crow in how they played their racial roles--how they moved, talked, even gestured. The highly visible but often subtle nature of these interactions constituted the Jim Crow routine. In this study of Mississippi race relations in the final decades of the Jim Crow era, Berrey argues that daily interactions between blacks and whites are central to understanding segregation and the racial system that followed it. Berrey shows how civil rights activism, African Americans' refusal to follow the Jim Crow script, and national perceptions of southern race relations led Mississippi segregationists to change tactics. No longer able to rely on the earlier routines, whites turned instead to less visible but equally insidious practices of violence, surveillance, and policing, rooted in a racially coded language of law and order. Reflecting broader national transformations, these practices laid the groundwork for a new era marked by black criminalization, mass incarceration, and a growing police presence in everyday life.

This Bright Light of Ours

This Bright Light of Ours offers a tightly focused insider's view of the community-based activism that was the heart of the civil rights movement. A celebration of grassroots heroes, this book details through first-person accounts the contributions of ordinary people who formed  the nonviolent army that won the fight for voting rights. Combining memoir and oral history, Maria Gitin fills a vital gap in civil rights history by focusing on the neglected Freedom Summer of 1965 when hundreds of college students joined forces with local black leaders to register thousands of new black voters in the rural South. Gitin was an idealistic nineteen-year-old college freshman from a small farming community north of San Francisco who felt called to action when she saw televised images of brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators during Bloody Sunday, in Selma, Alabama. Atypical among white civil rights volunteers, Gitin came from a rural low-income family. She raised funds to attend an intensive orientation in Atlanta featuring now-legendary civil rights leaders. Her detailed letters include the first narrative account of this orientation and the only in-depth field report from a teenage Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) project participant. Gitin details the dangerous life of civil rights activists in Wilcox County, Alabama, where she was assigned. She tells of threats and arrests, but also of forming deep friendships and of falling in love. More than four decades later, Gitin returned to Wilcox County to revisit the people and places that she could never forget and to discover their views of the "outside agitators" who had come to their community. Through conversational interviews with more than fifty Wilcox County residents and former civil rights workers, she has created a channel for the voices of these unheralded heroes who formed the backbone of the civil rights movement.

Jim Crow Guide to the U. S. A

Jim Crow Guide documents the system of legally imposed American apartheid that prevailed during what Stetson Kennedy calls "the long century from Emancipation to the Overcoming." The mock guidebook covers every area of activity where the tentacles of Jim Crow reached. From the texts of state statutes, municipal ordinances, federal regulations, and judicial rulings, Kennedy exhumes the legalistic skeleton of Jim Crow in a work of permanent value for scholars and of exceptional appeal for general readers.

Jim Crow America

The term "Jim Crow" has had multiple meanings and a dark and complex past. It was first used in the early nineteenth century. After the Civil War it referred to the legal, customary, and often extralegal system that segregated and isolated African Americans from mainstream American life. In response to the increasing loss of their rights of citizenship and the rising tide of violence, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded in 1909. The federal government eventually took an active role in dismantling Jim Crow toward the end of the Depression. But it wasn't until the Lyndon Johnson years and all the work that led up to them that the end of Jim Crow finally came to pass. This unique book provides readers with a wealth of primary source materials from 1828 to 1980 that reveal how the Jim Crow era affects how historians practice their craft. The book is chronologically organized into five sections, each of which focuses on a different historical period in the story of Jim Crow: inventing, building, living, resisting, and dismantling. Many of the fifty-six documents and eighteen images and cartoons, many of which have not been published before, reveal something significant about this subject or offer an unconventional or unexpected perspective on this era. Some of the historical figures whose words are included are Abraham Lincoln, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, Richard Wright, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Adam Clayton Powell, and Marian Anderson. The book also has an annotated bibliography, a list of key players, a timeline, and key topics for consideration.

They Left Great Marks on Me

Well after slavery was abolished, its legacy of violence left deep wounds on African Americans’ bodies, minds, and lives. For many victims and witnesses of the assaults, rapes, murders, nightrides, lynchings, and other bloody acts that followed, the suffering this violence engendered was at once too painful to put into words yet too horrible to suppress. nbsp; In this evocative and deeply moving history Kidada Williams examines African Americans’ testimonies about racial violence. By using both oral and print culture to testify about violence, victims and witnesses hoped they would be able to graphically disseminate enough knowledge about its occurrence and inspire Americans to take action to end it. In the process of testifying, these people created a vernacular history of the violence they endured and witnessed, as well as the identities that grew from the experience of violence. This history fostered an oppositional consciousness to racial violence that inspired African Americans to form and support campaigns to end violence. The resulting crusades against racial violence became one of the political training grounds for the civil rights movement.

Managing White Supremacy

Tracing the erosion of white elite paternalism in Jim Crow Virginia, Douglas Smith reveals a surprising fluidity in southern racial politics in the decades between World War I and the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision. Smith draws on official records, private correspondence, and letters to newspapers from otherwise anonymous Virginians to capture a wide and varied range of black and white voices. African Americans emerge as central characters in the narrative, as Smith chronicles their efforts to obtain access to public schools and libraries, protection under the law, and the equitable distribution of municipal resources. This acceleration of black resistance to white supremacy in the years before World War II precipitated a crisis of confidence among white Virginians, who, despite their overwhelming electoral dominance, felt increasingly insecure about their ability to manage the color line on their own terms. Exploring the everyday power struggles that accompanied the erosion of white authority in the political, economic, and educational arenas, Smith uncovers the seeds of white Virginians' resistance to civil rights activism in the second half of the twentieth century.

Devil's Sanctuary

Lynchings, beatings, arson, denial of rights, false imprisonment--the civil rights era brought attention to these heinous offenses that were the status quo for African Americans in many areas of the country. And no state was more notorious as a sanctuary for the murderers and perpetrators of hate crimes than Mississippi. In 1956 state lawmakers installed the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission to preserve segregation and "Mississippi Values" by declaring the state outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. Under the auspices of the governor and lieutenant governor, the commission joined forces with groups such as the White Citizens' Councils, which would stop at nothing in their quest for white supremacy. In Devil's Sanctuary , Alex A. Alston Jr. and James L. Dickerson, both of whom grew up in small-town Mississippi, recount the state's shameful racist history and explore how Mississippi was able to get away with its role as a safe haven for the most virulent and violent racists, allowing them immunity from prosecution. The breakdown of institutions, with everyone from judges and elected officials to clergy and the media looking the other way, not only permitted but even encouraged acts so horrendous that many citizens cannot believe they happened--and still could happen--in the United States. Analysis of the major crimes, the institutional collusion, delayed and never-delivered justice, and the state's attempts at atonement is interspersed with the authors' accounts of what they saw, heard, and experienced as whites--thus "insiders"--from that troubled time to the present day. Devil's Sanctuary is part shocking history and part moving memoir, an eyewitness account of judicial, media, and economic terrorism directed against African Americans.

Equal Time

Equal Time: Television and the Civil Rights Movement explores the crucial role of network television in reconfiguring new attitudes in race relations during the civil rights movement. Due to widespread coverage, the civil rights revolution quickly became the United States' first televised major domestic news story. This important medium unmistakably influenced the ongoing movement for African American empowerment, desegregation, and equality.   Aniko Bodroghkozy brings to the foreground network news treatment of now-famous civil rights events including the 1965 Selma voting rights campaign, integration riots at the University of Mississippi, and the March on Washington, including Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. She also examines the most high-profile and controversial television series of the era to feature African American actors--East Side/West Side, Julia, and Good Times--to reveal how entertainment programmers sought to represent a rapidly shifting consensus on what "blackness" and "whiteness" meant and how they now fit together.

A Decisive Decade

The deeply personal story of a historic time in Chicago, Robert B. McKersie’s A Decisive Decade follows the unfolding action of the Civil Rights Movement as it played out in the Windy City. McKersie’s participation as a white activist for black rights offers a unique, firsthand viewpoint on the debates, boycotts, marches, and negotiations that would forever change the face of race relations in Chicago and the United States at large. Described within are McKersie’s intimate observations on events as they developed during his participation in such historic occasions as the impassioned marches for open housing in Chicago; the campaign to end school segregation under Chicago Schools Superintendent Benjamin Willis; Operation Breadbasket’s push to develop economic opportunities for black citizens; and dialogs with corporations to provide more jobs for blacks in Chicago. In addition, McKersie provides up close and personal descriptions of the iconic Civil Rights leaders who spearheaded some of the most formative battles of Chicago’s Civil Rights movement, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Reverend Jesse Jackson, Timuel Black Jr. and W. Alvin Pitcher. The author illumines the tensions experienced by two major institutions in responding to the demands of the civil rights movement: the university and the church. Packed with historical detail and personal anecdotes of these history-making years, A Decisive Decade offers a never-before-seen perspective on one of our nation’s most tumultuous eras.nbsp;

The Chicago Freedom Movement

Six months after the Selma to Montgomery marches and just weeks after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a group from Martin Luther King Jr.'s staff arrived in Chicago, eager to apply his nonviolent approach to social change in a northern city. Once there, King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) joined the locally based Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO) to form the Chicago Freedom Movement. The open housing demonstrations they organized eventually resulted in a controversial agreement with Mayor Richard J. Daley and other city leaders, the fallout of which has historically led some to conclude that the movement was largely ineffective. In this important volume, an eminent team of scholars and activists offer an alternative assessment of the Chicago Freedom Movement's impact on race relations and social justice, both in the city and across the nation. Building upon recent works, the contributors reexamine the movement and illuminate its lasting contributions in order to challenge conventional perceptions that have underestimated its impressive legacy.

If It Takes All Summer

This memoir recounts the struggle against segregation in St. Augustine, Florida, in the early and mid-1960s. In the summer of 1964 the nation's oldest city became the center of the civil rights movement as Martin Luther King Jr., encouraged by President Johnson, a southerner, who made the civil rights bill the center piece of his domestic policy, chose this tourism-driven community as an ideal location to demonstrate the injustice of discrimination and the complicity of southern leaders in its enforcement.   St. Augustine was planning an elaborate celebration of its founding, and expected generous federal and state support. But when the kick-off dinner was announced only whites were invited, and local black leaders protested. The affair alerted the national civil rights leadership to the St. Augustine situation as well as fueling local black resentment.   Ferment in the city grew, convincing King to bring his influence to the leadership of the local struggle. As King and his allies fought for the right to demonstrate, a locally powerful Ku Klux Klan counter-demonstrated. Conflict ensued between civil rights activists, local and from out-of-town, and segregationists, also home-grown and imported. The escalating violence of the Klan led Florida's Governor to appoint State Attorney Dan Warren as his personal representative in St. Augustine. Warren's crack down on the Klan and his innovative use of the Grand Jury to appoint a bi-racial committee against the intransigence of the Mayor and other officials, is a fascinating story of moral courage. This is an insider view of a sympathetic middleman in the difficult position of attempting to bring reason and dialog into a volatile situation.

King: a Biography

Acclaimed by leading historians and critics when it appeared shortly after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this foundational biography wends through the corridors in which King held court, posing the right questions and providing a keen measure of the man whose career and mission enthrall scholars and general readers to this day. Updated with a new preface and more than a dozen photographs of King and his contemporaries, this edition presents the unforgettable story of King's life and death for a new generation.

Dividing Lines

With this bold offering from two decades of research, J. Mills Thornton III presents the story of the civil rights movement from the perspective of community-municipal history at the grassroots level. Thornton demonstrates that the movement had powerful local sources in its three birth cities--Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. There, the arcane mechanisms of state and city governance and the missteps of municipal politicians and civic leaders--independent of emerging national trends in racial mores--led to the great swell of energy for change that became the civil rights movement.

Jane Crow

Throughout her prodigious life, activist and lawyer Pauli Murray systematically fought against all arbitrary distinctions in society, channeling her outrage at the discrimination she faced to make America a more democratic country. In this definitive biography, Rosalind Rosenberg offers apoignant portrait of a figure who played pivotal roles in both the modern civil rights and women's movements.A mixed-race orphan, Murray grew up in segregated North Carolina before escaping to New York, where she attended Hunter College and became a labor activist in the 1930s. When she applied to graduate school at the University of North Carolina, where her white great-great-grandfather had been atrustee, she was rejected because of her race. She went on to graduate first in her class at Howard Law School, only to be rejected for graduate study again at Harvard University this time on account of her sex. Undaunted, Murray forged a singular career in the law. In the 1950s, her legalscholarship helped Thurgood Marshall challenge segregation head-on in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case.When appointed by Eleanor Roosevelt to the President's Commission on the Status of Women in 1962, she advanced the idea of Jane Crow, arguing that the same reasons used to condemn race discrimination could be used to battle gender discrimination. In 1965, she became the first African American toearn a JSD from Yale Law School and the following year persuaded Betty Friedan to found an NAACP for women, which became NOW. In the early 1970s, Murray provided Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the argument Ginsburg used to persuade the Supreme Court that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitutionprotects not only blacks but also women - and potentially other minority groups - from discrimination. By that time, Murray was a tenured history professor at Brandeis, a position she left to become the first woman ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church in 1976.Murray accomplished all this while struggling with issues of identity. She believed from childhood she was male and tried unsuccessfully to persuade doctors to give her testosterone. While she would today be identified as transgender, during her lifetime no social movement existed to support thisidentity. She ultimately used her private feelings of being "in-between" to publicly contend that identities are not fixed, an idea that has powered campaigns for equal rights in the United States for the past half-century.

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