Each Tuesday, PBS is showing the next installment of a six-part series, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Written and narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the documentary traces African American history from the shores of West Africa to the election of Barack Obama. Join us each week as we feature documents from the John Hope Franklin Research Center that resonate with the previous week’s episode.
From the outbreak of war in Europe to the chants of black power in Mississippi, Episode 5: Rise! (1940 – 1968), told the story of how African Americans came together in a mass movement for freedom. During World War II, black citizens used the rallying cry of patriotism to demand both victory abroad and victory at home over racism. However, Jim Crow followed black soldiers overseas, while the South’s commitment to white supremacy only grew deeper.
But the mobilization of black veterans and activists fueled new possibilities. Shortly after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision struck down segregation, black men and women in Montgomery took to the streets, demanding an end to racial discrimination on the city’s buses.
With Martin Luther King Jr. and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) serving key leadership roles, nonviolent protests and voter registration drives spread across the South.
The brutal retaliation against protesters was broadcast into America’s living rooms. For the first time since Reconstruction, the federal government stood to protect the civil rights of black Americans. As nonviolence and federal action failed to uproot black poverty and exclusion, a rising consciousness of black power in the late sixties pushed the freedom struggle in new directions.
Post contributed by Karlyn Forner, John Hope Franklin Research Center, Graduate Intern
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The Devil’s Tale Archive
- Bill Brown Zine Collection, 1981-2011. September 23, 2014
- Center for Justice and Accountability records. September 19, 2014
- Linda Gilbert account and scrapbook, 1894. September 18, 2014
- Frederick B. Nightingale stereographs of China, 1920-1921. September 18, 2014
- Lantern slides and art photos produced by the American Colony photographers illustrating Bible lands, 1910s-1940s. September 16, 2014
- Dealing in hate : the development of anti-German propaganda September 29, 2014
- How we smelled and why September 25, 2014
- River of grass September 25, 2014
- Words of Chan K'in : Lacandon jungle. September 25, 2014
- The heart wants what it wants. September 25, 2014
- Methodist expansion in North Carolina after the Revolution / September 30, 2014
- Historical sketch of the Methodist church in Rockingham and surrounding country. September 30, 2014
- Historical markers of interest to the Methodist Church within the bounds of the North Carolina September 30, 2014
- Green Hill September 30, 2014
- Decennial celebration of the organization of Kings Mountain Presbytery, Lincolnton, North Carolina, November 12th, 13th, 1912. September 30, 2014