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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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L.B. Paige Freedom Train.png
The cooperative efforts of local grassroots activists and Freedom Summer volunteers yielded the election of three African American officials, including L.B. Paige, in Mississippi's Benton County for the first time since Reconstruction. The news was…

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Chronology of Violence and Intimidation in MS.png
This photograph was published in a report chronicling the intimidation and violence towards African-American voting activists. As the original photo caption notes, police documented voters as they entered courthouses so that the "evidence" could…

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FirstVote.png
This illustration from Harper's Weekly features three figures symbolizing black political leadership: a skilled craftsman, a sophisticated city dweller, and a Union Army veteran.

Prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, many southern (and some western) states had devised "literacy tests" and other voting requirements whose primary purpose was to deny African Americans the vote. The tests consisted of written and…

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FSummer2.png
The Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) was a coalition of civil rights organizations that formed in Mississippi in 1962 to coordinate voter registration efforts and broader equal rights reforms. In 1964, COFO launched Freedom Summer, in which…

Fannie Lou Hamer, the last of 20 children and a Mississippi tenant farmer, leapt to national prominence during the 1964 Democratic National Convention, when she eloquently challenged Mississippi's segregated Democratic primary on national television.…

The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) enlisted young people and local leaders to register and encourage southern African Americans to vote during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Because the young organizers faced tremendous…

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Writing to his friend, James Sullivan, who was a member of the Massachusetts General Court, Adams sets forth his arguments against giving women, children, and property-less men the right to vote.

William (Willie) Velásquez founded the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) in 1974. The son of a butcher from San Antonio, Texas, he spent his adult life as a community organizer and political activist.  Inspired by the…
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