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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 thousands of local black Mississippians and hundreds of black and white students from out of state…

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Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: Circa 1963

This leaflet, produced by Jo Ann Robinson and others in response to Rosa Parks' arrest on December 1, 1955, called for all African Americans to stay off city buses on Monday, December 5. Robinson was president of the Women's Political Council, an organization of African-American professional women who worked for greater political influence from the…

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Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: 1955

This handbill was distributed at a 1956 anti-integration rally attended by over 10,000 white citizens in Montgomery, Alabama. Montgomery's mayor was one of the featured speakers at the rally.

Item Type: Pamphlet/Petition
Date: 1956

Fannie Lou Hamer grew up as one of 20 children born to sharecroppers in rural Mississippi. She and her husband were eking out a living as sharecroppers near Ruleville when, at the age of 44, she decided to attend a mass meeting about voting in 1962. Hamer quickly became a leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee's voting rights…

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Item Type: Speech
Date: 1964

Women and African Americans were demanding the rights of citizenship in the 1850s. At an 1851 women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio Sojourner Truth rose and asked the president, "May I say a few words?" She then conveyed to the audience a powerful interpretation of both struggles.
This billboard advertisement, dating from the early 1940s, suggests the common ground shared by the labor and civil rights movements. Created by the Congress of Industrial Organizations, the more progressive of the country's two main labor federations, the billboard urges support for Roosevelt's Fair Employment Practices Committee legislation…

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Item Type: Advertisement
Date: Circa 1941

Cato, a slave newly freed with his children, wrote this letter to Freeman's Journal, an African-American newspaper, when the Pennsylvania legislature was debating whether to repeal a recently passed law that gradually emancipated all slaves in the state; he made his argument using the legislature's words about the promise of universal civilization…

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Item Type: Newspaper/Magazine
Date: 1781

A copy of the Security Handbook given to participants in the "Freedom Summer" campaign in Mississippi in 1964 highlights the dangers that young civil rights workers were exposed to. Tragically, the precautions suggested by the handbook proved insufficient; three young volunteers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were abducted and…

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Item Type: Government Document
Date: Circa 1964

The 1770s and 1780s were a period of uneven social change in America. The first table shows the extent to which various groups in society could vote, serve on juries and own property through the 1780s. The second table shows a breakdown of the U.S. population by race and gender according to the 1790 census.

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Item Type: Quantitative Data
Date: 2010

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 African-American civil rights movement, he sought to inform and empower Mexican Americans about the…

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Item Type: Article/Essay
Date: 2004