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Theodore Judson “T.J.” JEMISON
In 1953, the Rev. Theodore Judson “T.J.” Jemison led a bus boycott in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A fare increase on the city’s white-owned buses directly impacted the African American community. Black residents made up the majority of the riders. Jemiso
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Roy Wilkins began his long association with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1931. At first, he served as the editor of the NAACP’s magazine, Crisis. Then he became the executive secretary in 1955. By 1964, he
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Little Rock NINE
Elizabeth Eckford thought the soldiers at Central High School would protect her. But on September 4, 1957, the soldiers raised their guns and pointed them at her. They refused to let Elizabeth enter the school. Like many places in the South, Little R
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Julian BOND
Julian Bond was a dues-paying member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as a child. His parents were members, and they made sure their children were supporters, too. Bond grew up to become an active civil righ
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Daisy Bates and her husband owned and published a civil rights newspaper in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the 1940s. The paper, the Arkansas State Press, became a voice for civil rights in the decade before the modern civil rights movement began. It shin
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While growing up in Alabama in the 1940s, John Lewis saw the negative effects of segregation. As a teenager in the 1950s, he was inspired by listening to radio recordings of sermons by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For a while, he also wanted t
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Meg Chorlian, Editor John Hansen, Art Director Pat Murray, Designer Emily Cambias, Assistant Editor Stacey Lane Smith, Assistant Editor Naomi Pasachoff, Editorial Consultant, Research Associate, Williams College James M. O’Connor, Directo
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Greensboro FOUR
Four Black college students entered a Woolworth’s store in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1960. They sat down at the lunch counter and ordered food. As expected, the waitress refused to serve them. That simple act set the stage for student activism f
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Bernard Lafayette Jr. was a minister by training. As a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), he helped organize the Nashville, Tennessee, lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 and the Freedom Rides of 1961. He led a voter regist
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Getting Started
Nearly 160 years ago, immediately following the Civil War (1861–1865), the U.S. government was determined to protect the rights of African Americans. It did so by passing three amendments. The 13th Amendment (1865) abolished slavery. The 14th Amendme
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Ella Baker began working with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1940. She fought to move the association’s focus away from legal battles and toward proactive grassroots participation. Baker resigned from the
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Champions For A Cause
Civil rights leaders across the United States continue to work to ensure that people have equal access to education, justice, and work. One of the most iconic living civil rights leaders is Dolores Huerta. Raised in California, Huerta saw her mothe
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Pivotal Moments
Many of the articles in this issue refer to specific events or organizations that impacted the course of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Here’s a quick overview of the major events or groups, when they took place or were founded, an
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Coretta Scott KING
James Meredith’s application to attend the University of Mississippi was accepted in 1961. But there was a problem. The university was an all-white institution, and Meredith was African American. He had been admitted because the school thought he was
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Leading The Way
Here are three young activists fighting for change around the world. Around the world, millions of girls have been forced to marry before they turn 18. One girl who nearly fell victim to that situation is Angeline Makore of Zimbabwe. When Angeline
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A. Philip Randolph was considered the elder statesman of the civil rights movement. For more than 50 years, he never lost sight of his goal: to help African Americans gain equal opportunity in the workplace and in American society. Randolph grew up i
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Coretta Scott’s marriage to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1953 resulted in a public role for her in the modern civil rights movement. But her commitment to social justice and peace existed before and extended after her married life with King
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SAY WHAT? Exploring The Origins Of Words And Sayings
Freedom has multiple meanings with subtle but important differences. It means “the condition of being without restraints.” It means “physical liberty from oppression, slavery, or detainment.” It means “political independence.” It means “the possessio
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Charles Kenzie “C.K.” STEELE
When white supremacists left a cross burning in the front yard of the Rev. Charles Kenzie “C.K.” Steele, he refused to be intimidated. He had moved to Tallahassee, Florida, to become the pastor of the Bethel Baptist Church in 1952. And he was determi
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Did You Know ?
Linda Brown’s family name is connected with a famous U.S. Supreme Court case. When Linda was in third grade, the Browns’ sued their school board in Topeka, Kansas. They argued that separate but equal public schools deprived Black children of fair opp
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Freeze Frame
In 1965, civil rights protesters hoping to register Black voters in Alabama made a decision. They were going to walk the 54 miles from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery. On their initial attempt, local law enforcement violently attacked the wa
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Bayard Rustin was an activist who just made things happen. His charisma and organizational skills were almost unmatched. He devoted much of his life to working for the causes of civil rights, human rights, and other social issues. He participated in
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Fannie Lou HAMER
As the daughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, Fannie Lou Hamer worked hard for more than 40 years just to get by. But in 1962, Hamer experienced a life-changing event: She attended a protest meeting. There, she learned that Black people had the right
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Your Letters
Sara Graham, age 8 Parker, Texas Clare Graham, age 10 Parker, Texas Celebrating Earth Day Harry S. Truman Questionable Characters Draw a picture or write a poem or short essay that connects to one of the above COBBLESTONE themes on which we cu
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I was meant to die that night,” James Farmer once said of the night in 1963 when Louisiana state troopers hunted him from door to door. “They were kicking open doors, beating up Blacks in the street, interrogating them with electric cattle prods.” Fa
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Victoria Gray ADAMS
Victoria Gray Adams believed that there were two kinds of people in grassroots organizations: “Those who are in the movement and those who have the movement in them. The movement is in me,” she said, “and I know it always will be.” Adams was one of t
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Building a Better Future
During the civil rights movement, Birmingham, Alabama’s Black citizens lived under a government that supported white supremacy. The city was referred to as “Bombingham” for the many bombings of Black homes that went unsolved and unprosecuted. Birming
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Wyatt Tee WALKER
Like many Black ministers of the era, the Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker was involved in major civil rights organizations. Those included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Along
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James Morris LAWSON
The Rev. James Morris Lawson’s mother believed that force was never the way to solve a problem. Lawson inherited that point of view. He participated in his first sit-in in high school by ordering a meal with a classmate at an all-white restaurant. In
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Taking A Stand
This month’s mystery hero was a white woman who supported civil rights for African Americans at a time when it was dangerous to do so. Especially in segregated Alabama, where our hero lived. Our young hero was born in Montgomery in 1914. She was th
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