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[[image - black & white photograph of a picket supporting the sit ins]]
[[caption]] Students at the University of Chicago marched in support of the sit-in movement in the South[[/caption]]

Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair, Jr. and two of their classmates--four college freshmen from North Carolina A. & T.--sat down at a lunch counter in a Woolworth store on February 1, 1950 and, in so doing, launched one of the most ingenious and effective tactics of protest seen in the South during the past decade. Within three months, thousands of Negro and white students were "trained" to take their seats at lunch counters, submit to the inevitable heckling and harassment that ensued; "sit tight, and refuse to fight." 

Three months later, the lunch counter at the Woolworth's in Greensboro was open to the public, regardless of race. By the end of the year, hotels, movie theatres, libraries, super markets, amusement parks and a host of other similar establishments had lowered their barriers against Negroes, and begun the slow, arduous process of allowing them a greater measure of mobility.


The freedom rides took their cue from the sit-in demonstrations which swept the South in 1960. Beginning in the nation's capital, a group of CORE freedom riders set out for New Orleans on May 4, 1961--with stops en route in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. When they reached Anniston and, later, Birmingham, they were savagely beaten, stomped, and slashed with chains, while one of their buses was stoned and burned.

Later that May, a bi-racial group left Atlanta for Montgomery, where it intended to protest bus-terminal segregation. Before federal marshals could arrive in the Alabama capital city to offer the riders protection, they were assaulted and further threatened. Attorney General Robert Kennedy quickly petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to outlaw segregation in all trains, buses and terminals--in order which became effective on November 1.

The order notwithstanding, a group of freedom riders in McComb, Mississippi was charged with "breach of the peace" violations when it attempted to desegregate the bus terminal--after the ICC ruling had ostensibly gone into effect. By December, however, the "Freedom Riders" had merged their operation with the then-budding movement to launch full-scale assaults on patterns of segregation in selected cities across the South.

The Albany Movement--(1962)

Albany, Georgia became a major civil rights battleground in the summer of 1962. It was in this city that Negro leaders attempted, for the first time, to liquidate discrimination in all public facilities--buses, libraries, parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, etc. The coordinated, city-wide campaign was sponsored by SCLC, SNCC, and elements of CORE and the NAACP.

For all its historic importance, Albany was not a noteworthy success in the civil rights struggle, despite the fact that numerous protest marches were organized, and the jails were filled. (Dr. King himself was arrested for "parading without a permit," and chose to serve out his sentence, only to be released within a few hours after an anonymous donor had paid his fine.)

City officials and police authorities slowed down the tempo of Albany by minimizing the instances in which violence was allowed to erupt. Division in the Negro leadership ranks was also a factor in taking the edge off the movement's overall momentum. At Albany, time worked in favor of the white segregationist and, as the months dragged on, the city gradually disappeared from the national limelight.

Integration at the University of Mississippi: James Meredith--(1962)

Meredith v. Mississippi, although not a legal citation, does serve to describe the clash between a 29-year-old Negro Air on the all-white campus of "Ole Miss."

In June 1962, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that Meredith's application for enrollment at the University of Mississippi had been rejected solely on racial grounds, and hence directed his admission to the school. After frantic legal maneuvers designed to keep him from enrolling, Meredith underwent a grueling 10-day ordeal during which he was blocked in the school doorway by Mississippi governor Ross Barnett, and later prevented from entering the college administrative offices. On September 30, President John F. Kennedy federalized the Mississippi National Guard, and dispatched a detachment of U. S. Army troops to Memphis on stand-by alert. After two deaths, and injuries to scores of people, James Meredith walked through the doors of "Ole Miss" for the first time.

Having finished one semester at Mississippi, Meredith held a press conference and announced that he had concluded that "the Negro' should not return..."

"However," he continues, "I have decided that I, J. H. Meredith, will not register for the second semester."  

[[image - black & white photograph of the results of the riots in Watts]]
[[caption]] Watts: scene of one of the worst urban riots in U.S. history[[/caption]]

[[image - black & white photograph of the Selma-to-Montgomery march]]
[[caption]] Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. leads the Selma-to-Montgomery marchers on the last leg of their journey to the Alabama state capital. To his left is Mrs. King; to his right Ralph J. Bunche, fellow winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. [[/caption]]

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