Tag Archives: Civil Rights

The Origins of Racial Segregation in the United States


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ben_franklins_worldEver wonder how the United States’ problem with race developed and why early American reformers didn’t find a way to fix it during the earliest days of the republic?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Nicholas Guyatt, author of Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation (Basic Books, 2016), leads us on an exploration of how and why the idea of separate but equal developed in the early United States. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/096

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Civil Rights: Resisting The New Jim Crow Rules


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President Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act 1964The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) will host the culminating event for its CHANGING AMERICA exhibit and programs: a Community Conversation on the subject of “Resisting the New Jim Crow” on Saturday, July 9, at 2 pm.

NAHOF invites the public to join in sharing thoughts about the ways to engage in the work of racial justice at this time. This conversation will aim to help each be active, in many small ways, in standing together to work toward an end to such things as the school-to-prison pipeline, police brutality, and the legacy of white supremacy that still perpetuates racism and de-values black lives. Continue reading

Remembering The March On Washington 1963


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We March We Demand Courtesy of Library of CongressThe National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) will present a program at 2 pm Saturday, June 18 about the March on Washington August 28, 1963 to accompany the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963.” NAHOF extends a special invitation to people who have memories of the March to bring those recollections, experiences, souvenirs, etc. to the program to share. Continue reading

Some Interesting History Anniversaries in 2017


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New York State MapPlans are being developed for commemoration of at least three significant historical events next year – the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State, the bicentennial of the Erie Canal, and the centennial of the United States’ entry into World War I. These are all exciting opportunities to call attention to New York’s history.

But the New York historical community might consider going even further with these three events. In fact, the historical community might consider making 2017 a special year for New York history.  Here are a few possibilities: Continue reading

Firefight: The Battle to Integrate the NYFD


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firefightGinger Adams Otis’ new book Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest (2015 Palgrave MacMillan) offers a fresh look at New York City’s firefighters’ critical Civil Rights history.

Firefight is a narrative from veteran reporter Ginger Adams Otis that delves deep into the struggle of black firefighters to truly integrate the FDNY – the largest fire department in the U.S.

It sheds light on the long, painful effort to achieve the still-elusive post-racial America and shares the untold history of the black men and women who battled to join the Bravest. Continue reading

3 Important NYS Constitutional Conventions


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1777 New York State ConstitutionThe next referendum to decide whether to hold a New York State Constitutional Convention will be held on November 7, 2017.  During the last two referenda in 1997 and 1977 (they are held every 20 years) voters declined to hold such a convention. In fact the last time a convention to revise the New York State Constitution was held was almost 50 years ago in 1967, and despite the hard work of its delegates, voters rejected the revised Constitution in its entirety.

Although amendments to the New York State Constitution occur with some regularity (including several last November), the last time the Constitution was changed through the Convention process was in 1938, almost eighty years ago.

Nevertheless, the history of Constitutional Conventions in New York State is not as bleak as this recent history would suggest. In fact, three New York State Constitutional Conventions — those of 1777, 1821 and 1938 — helped shape the State’s political history. Continue reading

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and NYC’s Minority Plumbers


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01Minority PlumbersShifting alliances can make strange bedfellows and surprising adversaries. The push to integrate the New York City Plumbers Union as the Civil Rights Act was cobbled together 50 years ago shows how our perceptions and expectations can change with time.

Not long before the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, construction began on what is now the Hunt’s Point Food Distribution Center, the largest food distribution complex in the world. Full integration of the union workers at Hunts Point, supported by many, might have derailed or undermined this important legislation. Continue reading

New-York Historical Opens Art as Activism Exhibit


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Roosevelt and Lehman Campaign PosterLong before digital technology made instant worldwide communication possible, political protests and calls for action reached the public through posters. Posted on walls and bulletin boards, slapped up on store windows and church doors, these works often featured bright colors and modernist art-inspired graphics, and were quickly mass-produced to inform communities, stir up audiences, and call attention to injustice.

This summer, the New-York Historical Society is presenting 72 posters dating from the early 1930s through the 1970s in Art as Activism: Graphic Art from the Merrill C. Berman Collection, on through September 13, 2015. Continue reading

African-American History: Seeking Fortune In The North


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BrickmanAerial[1]When Harvey Griffin became a member of the Monticello Fire Department in 1875, he was the only African-American living in the village, and one of just a handful in all of Sullivan County.

In 1930, when the population of the county was just over 35,000, and the area stood poised on the brink of its Golden Age, census figures reveal there were 91 African-Americans living here. That’s just over one-quarter of one percent of the population. Continue reading