“Although it is now possible for most African Americans to eat at a lunch counter in most parts of the United States, the extension of these civilities has been accompanied by subtle, yet barbarous forms of discrimination. These forms extend from redlining in the sale of real estate to discrimination in employment to the maladministration of justice. In issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and wording it as he did, Lincoln went as far as he felt the law permitted him to go …The law itself is no longer an obstruction to justice and equality, but it is the people who live under the law who are themselves an obvious obstruction to justice. One can only hope that sooner rather than later we can all find the courage to live under the spirit of the Emancipation Proclamation and under the laws that flowed from its inspiration.”
(John Hope Franklin at the National Archives, January 4, 1993, on the occasion of the 130th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation)
Source: Duke University Libraries
Protestors arrested and dispersed protestors during one of the of civil rights demonstrations held in Danville, Virginia in the summer of 1963. led by local and national black leaders.
Danville (Virginia) Corporation Court, 1963 Civil Rights Case Files, Accession 38099, Local Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA
Sit-in at Woolworth’s lunch counter in Tallahassee, Florida
March 13, 1960
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
“Gone but not forgotten”
Scuffalong’s Gilbert Memorial Cemetery post reminded me of some photos I took last summer at an old AME church cemetery in Harnett County, NC.
Gilbert Memorial Cemetery. Atlanta, May 27.
“Plunkett Town was a neighborhood in the southern part of the city of Atlanta, Georgia. It was located south of Hapeville, Georgia city limits, adjacent to the Atlanta airport and across the railroad tracks from industrial plants. Also referred to as “Plunkytown,” it housed low-income black Atlantans and was described as a slum. Its close proximity to Atlanta’s airport at a time of dramatic expansion meant that this residential community was virtually wiped off the map by the late ’70s.
“The community was described in 1969 as “1,800 black persons living in primitive rural conditions,” “incredibly dilapidated frame hovels,” with no sewers, paved streets, mail service, school buses, or running water, “alongside a modest but well-maintained white residential area.” Mayor Ray King of Mountain View, Georgia, the neighboring white community, earned political favor with Plunkett Town residents for extending city services like garbage collection, police and fire protection to this previously underserved area. As was the case in Mountain View, by the early 1980s, the dense residential grid of Plunkett Town had been replaced by warehouses and industrial facilities related to air logistics. Today, the Atlanta Tradeport complex covers most of the former site of Plunkett Town.
“The Gilbert Cemetery, set aside for slaves in 1841, eventually became the final resting place for many residents of Plunkett Town. Up to 1700 people were buried there. The Old South Motel and Dining Room (or Old South Motel and Liquor Store) later occupied the property and the owners allegedly removed many of the headstones. During the construction of the I-75 interchange at Cleveland Avenue, GDOT discovered the damaged burial ground and attempted to make amends by erecting a 7-foot statue of Jesus Christ (depicted as a white man). This led to a federal lawsuit for violation of separation of church and state, as well as public outcry over the insensitivity of placing a “white Jesus” over a black cemetery. The compromise solution was a roadside memorial featuring a marble obelisk and a number of uniform, concrete headstones marking the approximate site of the cemetery.” Wikipedia.
I’ve passed this place a million times, a static cascade of concrete markers in the bowl of the I-75 Cleveland Avenue exit. This morning, while the dew was still wet, I broke through the fug of homelessness at the lip and plunged into dishallowed ground. Some years ago, a neighbor took on the thankless job of clearing an overgrown, but active, cemetery in the Southside town in which I live. He expressed some frustration that he got little support from African-Americans who lived in nearby neighborhoods. But their people were buried under a highway interchange, not under the oaks at Hillcrest.
The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots. — Forgetting Why We Remember - NYTimes.com
Memorial Day Group 1938, James E. Walker Post No. 26 of the American Legion, Washington, D.C.
Addison Scurlock, photographer, May 1938
Scurlock Studio Records, ca. 1905-1994, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
James L. Tolbert, Lawyer to Black Hollywood, Dies at 86 - NYTimes.com -
“Mr. Tolbert, a high school dropout, chose option 2, and went on to become one of the first black lawyers to represent black entertainers in Hollywood and to play a central role in an early effort to improve the way blacks were portrayed on film and to increase their numbers behind the scenes.”
“Cautiously advancing through the jungle, while on patrol in Japanese territory off the Numa-Numa Trail, these members of the 93rd Infantry Division are among the first Negro foot soldiers to go into action in the South Pacific theater.” May 1, 1944.
Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea
National Archives, Pictures of African Americans During World War II
Diaspora Hypertext: NEWS: Harvard to Digitize 18th and 19th Century Anti-Slavery Petitions -
The Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University is digitizing eighteenth and nineteenth-century anti-slavery petitions:
“…Included in the thousands of petitions are first-person accounts of former slaves and…
(Among the soldiers hanged for rape and murder was Louis Till, the father of Emmett Till.) — Rape by American Soldiers in World War II France - NYTimes.com
The Lincoln Motion Picture Company was the first movie production company organized by black film makers. The company was founded by actor Noble Johnson in May 1916 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Realization of a Negro’s Ambition was the first of six movies the company produced between 1916 and 1921. The films were intended to create positive images of black people and black life in America, countering the explicitly racist images of white films such as D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. The movies became part of a genre known as ‘race movies’ or ‘race films’, a genre that existed until around 1950.