- After the 15th Amendment over 500, 000 black men registered to vote. This was a remarkable time in History and allowed blacks a chance to vote and to run for political offices. This amendment made it illegal to deny someone’s right to vote based off the color of their skin or previous servitude. This amendment would not be ratified until February 3, 1870 but most of the privileges that were granted weren’t seen until nearly a century later. The use of poll taxes, literacy tests . threats and fear impaired a lot of African Americans the ability to vote. In 1890 Mississippi changed their constitution to disenfranchise and marginalize and to isolate its African American Population . It would take the voters right act of 1965 to allow many of the black southerners the right to vote.
- Hiram Rhodes Rivel was the first Black Elected Mississippian to serve as a United States Senator From 1870-1871. Rivel was born free in North Carolina around 1827. After that time he lived in Ohio and was a registered voter in that State before the Civil War. He would later graduate from Knox College after he studied Religion . He became a high school principal and a Methodist preacher . He would later serve Chaplain for the United States Colored Troops, and he was the first President of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (Alcorn State). In 1870 Revels won a vote (81 to 15) to fill a seat of the Mississippi Senate that had been vacant since the Civil War. During his time in office he faced a lot opposition. Some argued that before the 14th amendment he wasn’t even considered as a citizen therefore he could not satisfy his seat. His supporters argued his European descent and he was then granted a seat in the United States Senate.
- After 1877 Mississippi implemented new laws restricting voting rights for Blacks. Knowing that they could not change the 15th Amendment, they decided to add to the Mississippi constitution to restrict the right to vote for African Americans . This lead to over 80 years of voter suppression. Lead by the Democratic party , Mississippi waged a war to suppress the black voters rights . For more than 80 years the Mississippi government prevented African Americans from voting . In the 1950’s and in the 1960’s investigations were done and the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Mississippi government had violated the civil rights of African Americans and it also violated the United States Constitution. But although there was a ruling and fights to protect these individual civil rights, this law was not repealed until the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Over a century after they were enacted.
- Booker T Washington one of the most prolific speakers of his time and educator had very different plans for African Americans. He was born a slave in Virginia and sought for a new life after emancipation. He worked as a farmhand before enrolling into Hampton Normal and Agricultural University ( Hampton University). He would work as a janitor to pay his way through school . After graduation he worked as an educator and soon he was afforded the job as Tuskegee University’s first President. During his time as president he urged other African Americans to abandon their fight for civil rights but rather focus their attention on industrial and agricultural skills. He thought that if they learned how to farm and how to build their own nation that they could possibly build their own wealth. Many disagreed with his acceptance of segregation approach to life . He gave one of his most famous speeches at the Atlanta Explosion. It sent a sensation across the African American Community . His famous quote from the Atlanta Explosion: In all things that are purely social we can be separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.
- W. E. B Dubois was born in 1868 in Massachusetts . He attended a school with mostly whites and was well accepted by his white counterparts. He described himself as mulato. It was only until he moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Fisk University that he encountered racism and Jim Crow Laws. He was the first African American American to earn a PHD from Harvard University . He became famous after he moved to Atlanta and he wrote about his opposing opinion of Booker T Washington’s idea of accepting segregation. Dubois believed that African Americans should demand their equality not accept inequality . In 1903 he published a series of essays that promoted equality. The essays supported women’s rights and opposed the thoughts that biologically white people should be superior over blacks. In 1909 he co founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people. But before the time he helped co-found the NAACP he was a part of a group called the Niagara Movement. This movement encourage the equality for black people.
- Jim Crow laws in the south meant that all public places were segregated. This included schools . Although they were supposed to be separate they were supposed to also be equal. Equality wasn’t something that was always seen in the South. Because schools were separate but not equal a few people sought to change these situations . One man, who was a philanthropist and part owner of Sears and Roebuck , Julius Rosenwald teamed together with Booker T Washington and William Baldwin to help fund six small schools in Rural Alabama. Rosenwald part owner of the Sears corporation was also a board member of Tuskegee University . He was astonished by the differences in the schools of blacks and wanted to help establish a better environment for students. He not only helped with building new schools for black students but he remained on the board of Tuskegee until his death. During the time on the board of Tuskegee he help fund the school so that it could free up time for Mr. Washington to devote more time managing the institution. Booker T. Washington encouraged Rosenwald to talk about his generous donations but he remained behind the scenes until his death .
- Rosa Parks was not the first person to not give up her seat on a bus. Claudette Colvin was the first person willing to stand her ground in March 1955. At that time she was a 15 year old straight A high school student. When approached to be moved so that a white lady could take her seat , she replied that she knew her constitutional rights and she had the right to remain in her seat. She was only 15 years old when she was arrested for refusing to move from her seat. Although she was very brave she was well educated enough to know that retaliation may occur. That night after she was bailed out of jail by her pastor she and her family stayed up during the night preparing for the worse . Because of her case allowed her to be a plaintiff on a landmark trial against the Montgomery , AL public bus system. The NAACP had discussed using her case as a grounds to challenge the segregation laws but they decided against it because of her age at the time. During the same time she had became pregnant and thought using an unwed mother it could have attracted unwanted attention . She pleaded not guilty during her trial but was convicted and placed on probation . Though she was placed on probation she was given the title as a troublemaker .It was tough for her to keep a job and pretty soon she had to drop out of college. Two years after that situation she moved to New York and worked as a Nurses aid until she retired.
8.Lincoln University is the first public black University in the United States. It was founded as a private institution but was made a public institution in 1972. It was founded for African Americans who didn’t have many options for higher education . John Dickey and his wife Sarah Cressmon ( a Quaker) founded the University calling it , Ashmon Institute after a religious leader Jedudi Ashmon. After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln the institution was given the name Lincoln University. Located in Pennsylvania the college attracted many talented students from all over the United States. Langston Hughes is one of the more famous to attend this institution. Lincoln is still around and one of the top rated Historically Black College/Universities.
- Martin Luther King improvised most of his I Have A Dream Speech. Like any other person , Martin Luther King had a speech writer. At the time of the March on Washington , the speech writer struggled with the speech and pondered over what should and should not be in the speech. His speech writer finished the speech in the wee hours of the morning just in enough time for MLK to look over the speech. But in the beginning of the speech it looked as though he was struggling with the words. In many of the videos of the day you can see him look up and down as he gathered his notes to give the speech . In the middle of the speech one of King’s good friends ( Mahalia Jackson) yelled out , “tell them about that dream.” He pushed his speech to the side and began to take the audience on a journey to the Southern Black church . He began to tell them about a factual dream he had and as he pushed those notes written by his speech writer to the side , he made complete history with his I have A Dream speech . One of his most famous speeches of all times.
- Black History or Negro History week was first started by Carter G. Woodson. The week just like the month was established because of the birthday of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In the very beginning the week designated for Black History was met with unpleasant reactions . Many schools refused to teach any black history and some ignored the entire ideal of black history. The first celebration of Black History month was celebrated at Kent State University (Kent, Ohio) on January 2, 1970 to February 28, 1970. Six years later in 1976, President Gerald Ford acknowledge Black History Month . As President Ford addressed individuals during the 1976 Bicentennial Celebration he urged Americans to embrace and honor the accomplishments that black Americans have made throughout the United States history . Black History Months are also celebrated in Canada, the United Kingdom and the republic of Ireland .