Dr. Martin Luther King, Civil Rights Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King hosting a fair housing rally in Chicago

Freedom & Civil Rights Movement

I prayed for freedom for 20 years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.
– Frederick Douglass

After the freedom of slaves in 1863, the Civil Rights Movement in America began with the works of Frederick Douglass and others who fought to secure their civil rights and those for free blacks. African-Americans fought in every war by 1941, a majority of White soldiers did not want to serve besides Black soldiers, nor did they want large numbers of Black trained and handling weaponry. Our ancestors had to threaten strikes in defense factories and demand the right to defend our country in World War II as soldiers, not just cooks and valets.

Ultimately, Blacks were permitted to enter the war as soldiers, including under General Patton’s march through Europe. Having proven heroism in World War II and saving the lives of many White soldiers and Europeans, enough returning White veterans felt comfortable with Jackie Robinson desegregating Major League Baseball in 1947 and the integration of the U.S. Armed Forces in 1948. Those factors set the stage for the modern Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s & 1960s.

Our freedom, civil rights, and dignity were purchased by the blood of ancestors across this remarkable, yet imperfect nation. The lens for this segment of Black History is a city-by-city contribution to African-American Freedom and the Civil Rights Movement.

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