The History of Civil Rights and Politics in Montgomery County: An Expert's Perspective

In 1965, the United States was in the midst of a civil rights movement that had been gaining momentum for years. Montgomery County, Maryland was no exception, having experienced the kidnapping and brutal murder of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till in 1955. This crime sparked vigorous protests from both white and black Americans, and ultimately led to the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, led by Martin Luther King Jr. in December of that year. On August 6, 1965, President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

This law has been described as one of the most effective civil rights laws ever passed by Congress. The experiences of slavery and manumission, war and politics, the creation of a new state constitution, the emancipation of more than 5,000 local slaves and its aftermath all unfolded in an extraordinary way in Montgomery County. There are several opportunities for community members to share their experiences and perspectives of the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery. In November 1963, President Kennedy made a political trip to Texas to raise funds for his reelection campaign and ease the internal friction of the Democratic Party between Liberals and conservative Governor John Connally.

That same night, Medgar Evers, field secretary of the NAACP in Mississippi, was assassinated at his home in Jackson. Fred Shuttlesworth (1922—201), one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and a leading civil rights figure in Birmingham, Alabama, talks about the violence he suffered in 1955 and 1957 (shown in file images). In 1961, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) emerged as a major force in the civil rights movement thanks to its participation in Freedom Rides and other nonviolent protests across the South. In response to the attack and the recent March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, liberal members of the House Judicial Subcommittee responsible for drafting the civil rights bill reinforced it. The following year saw the start of Selma voting rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr.'s “Northern Campaign” in Chicago.

Abel Meeropol's song “Strange Fruit” became popular during this time due to its relevance to civil rights issues; it was recorded by singer Nina Simone in 1960. This report is an invaluable resource for those preparing MPDF for resources related to Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery County and anyone interested in this topic. In 1957, Clarence Mitchell rallied bipartisan support in Congress for a civil rights bill - first passed since Reconstruction. At the end of year-long boycott, Martin Luther King Jr. became a central figure in fight for civil rights by using his oratory skills to take his message to conferences around country.

In May 1963, police in Birmingham responded to march of young African-Americans with fire hoses and police dogs to disperse demonstrators since prisons were already full with other civil rights demonstrators. Ralph Ellison's novel “Invisible Man” addressed what it meant to be African-American at a time when minority rights were not respected. In 1970, Martin co-founded Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies - first black think tank - where he served as president for nine years. Paul Robeson (1898-197), singer, actor and civil liberties advocate sent telegram in response to acquittal by all-white jury of two white men charged with murder of Emmett Till. The history of civil rights and politics in Montgomery County is an important part of American history that should not be forgotten. Through this report we can gain insight into how far we have come as a nation since 1965 when President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act.

We can also learn from those who experienced these events first hand through their stories and perspectives.

Chase Acorda
Chase Acorda

Hardcore travel aficionado. Hipster-friendly internetaholic. Incurable social media fanatic. Freelance tv fan. Extreme tea ninja. Evil coffee enthusiast.

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