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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Slaves Petition the Massachusetts Legislature

Throughout the revolutionary era, scores of slaves signed petitions that linked their demands for freedom with the cause of American independence. Below is the text of one such petition presented to the Massachusetts legislature.

Rosa Parks Takes a Stand Against Segregation

Rosa Parks gained international fame in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat in the "whites-only" section on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Parks, an employee of the Montgomery Fair department store and secretary for the NAACP, later said [...]

Tags: Boycotts
Security Handbook for Freedom Summer Workers

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 [...]

Chief Justice Taney's Majority Opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford

In Dred Scott v. Sanford, Supreme Court judges considered two key questions: did the citizenship rights guaranteed by the Constitution apply to African-Americans, and could Congress prohibit slavery in new states? The first excerpt below addresses [...]

Illustration of bus where Rosa Parks sat, December 1, 1955

The diagram below shows where Rosa Parks sat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, on December 1, 1955. At the time, the first ten seats on Montgomery buses were reserved for white passengers only. Parks was sitting in the eleventh row. When the bus [...]

Tags: Boycotts
Item Type: Laws/Court Cases
"The Double V Campaign"

In his 1941 State of the Union address to Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt identified "four freedoms" (freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of speech, and freedom to practice religion) that the U.S. needed to defend by entering into [...]

An African-American Man Protests Labor Discrimination at Bowman Dairy

In 1937, African-American activists in Chicago founded the Negro Labor Relations League to put pressure on companies that refused to hire black workers. The League's campaigns targeted newspapers (to promote black newscarriers), movie theaters (to [...]

1960s Protesters Link to Earlier Black Freedom Struggles

In 1960, four African-American college students in Greensboro, North Carolina, began "sitting in" at the local Woolworth store’s lunch counter, which, like virtually all such lunch counters at the time, did not serve black customers. The [...]

Item Type: Photograph
Women Protesters Rally at the March on Washington

In this photograph taken at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, women marchers carry signs supporting a variety of demands.

"African-American children in exhibit area"

Herbert Randall's photographs vividly capture the energy, spirit, and excitement of Freedom Summer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Here, some of the 650 or so Freedom School students display their artwork with a gallery decorated by the children's [...]

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