Growing Up Colored

The noted writer and educator tells of his boyhood in the West Virginia town of Piedmont, where African Americans were second-class citizens but family pride ran deep.

You wouldn’t know Piedmont anymore—my Piedmont, I mean—the town in West Virginia where I learned to be a colored boy. Read more »

From Civil War to Civil Rights

J.R. Clifford fought his real battles in the courtroom

My paternal grandfather, Edward St. Lawrence Gates, was buried on July 2, 1960. After the burial my father showed my brother and me scrapbooks that his father had kept. Within the pages of those scrapbooks was an obituary of my great-great-grandmother, a slave named Jane Gates. It was dated January 6, 1888. And then he showed us her photograph. The next day I bought a composition book, came home, interviewed my mother and father, and began what I later learned is called a family tree. I was nine years old. Read more »

Date of Event: 
Thursday, November 22, 1860

Sit-in At The Woolworth’s

A new Greensboro museum celebrates the courage of four young black men 50 years ago

Winter weather canceled the sold-out gala banquet to celebrate the opening of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Saturday, January 30. But come Monday morning, glad throngs braved the cold to commemorate the day, 50 years earlier, when the civil disobedience of four young men in a luncheonette snowballed a change for America. Read more »

King Maker

During demonstrations in Birmingham, Martin Luther King Jr. took perhaps the most fateful decision made during the civil rights era

On April 12, 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr., faced the prospect of failure in his most significant civil rights campaign. For all his generally acknowledged leadership in the escalating southern black protest movement, King had actually never initiated a major demonstration. Read more »

The Summer Of Our Discontent

Although marred by the grisly murders of three young activists, the Freedom Summer of 1964 brought revolutionary changes to Mississippi and the nation

On the first day of summer in 1964, three young activists piled into a blue station wagon in Meridian, Mississippi, and headed into Klan country. Across America, it was Father’s Day, a lazy holiday of picnics, barbecues, and doubleheaders. Transistor radios blared early Beatles hits. TV commercials urged motorists to “Put a Tiger in Your Tank.” High above in Air Force One, President Lyndon Johnson flew home from California, content with the state of the union. The economy was booming, inflation was at 1.2 percent, and gas cost 30 cents a gallon.Read more »

King, Obama, And The Great American Dialogue

What would Martin Luther King Jr.—had he been alive today—thought of our latest president’s oratory?

Standing in the cold with 2 million others near the Capitol as Barack Obama delivered his inaugural address, I couldn’t help but recall another crowded day 45 years earlier, when I heard Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” oration at the other end of the National Mall, in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Read more »

1964 The Year At A Glance

January 11 Surgeon General Luther L. Terry releases his report on cigarette smoking.

January 16 Hello, Dolly! opens at the St. James Theater in New York City.

January 23 The Twenty-fourth Amendment, abolishing the poll tax, becomes part of the U.S. Constitution.

February 7 The Beatles arrive at JFK Airport. Read more »

1964 - The Year The Sixties Began

Viewing a transformation that still affects all of us—through the prism of a single year

It has been called the “burned-over decade,” a “dream and a nightmare,” the “definitive end of the Dark Ages, and the beginning of a more hopeful and democratic period” in American history. It’s been celebrated in movies like Forrest Gump and memorialized by television shows like “The Wonder Years,” “American Dreams,” and “China Beach.” Read more »

“Tired Of Giving In”

The Montgomery Bus Boycott and its legacy

December 1, 1955, was a cool, drizzly night in Montgomery. James F. Blake, a veteran of World War II and a veteran bus driver, was maneuvering the bus he normally took on the Montgomery Avenue route through downtown toward Cleveland Avenue on the city’s west side. Read more »

Boomer Century

What’s going to happen when the most prosperous, best-educated generation in history finally grows up? (And just how special are the baby boomers?)

Just a matter of weeks from now, on December 31, as millions of Americans don party hats and pop champagne corks to usher in the New Year, Kathleen Casey, the Philadelphia-born daughter of a Navy machinist and his wife, will likely find her phone once again ringing off the hook. It happens every decade or so.

 

Two boys stroll down a sidewalk—and into a future they and their generation will create.
 
©william gottlieb/corbis2005_5_coverimage
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