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Posts Tagged ‘alabama’

Throughout the month of May in 1961, groups of civil right activists, known collectively as the Freedom Riders, boarded interstate buses traveling through the southern United States.  Three separate United States Supreme Court decisions —  Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1946), Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company (1955) and  Boynton v. Virginia (1960) — had ruled segregation illegal on interstate buses and in the waiting rooms and restaurants that served those buses, allowing interstate travelers to disregard local laws upholding racial segregation.  The Freedom Riders sought to exercise their rights by testing the new federal law but were attacked by violent mobs and arrested by police willing to uphold local Jim Crow laws.

A group of Freedom Riders visiting with civil rights leader John LeFlore in Mobile, Alabama, 1961. Image courtesy of the University of South Alabama via Alabama Mosaic.

In Alabama, members of the Klu Klux Klan conspired with local police to end the Freedom Rides, and on May 14, 1961 Klansmen firebombed the first bus to arrive in the town of Anniston, Alabama and beat the riders mercilessly as they escaped from the bus.  Later, the injured riders were refused care at a local hospital because hospital staff feared the mob that has congregated outside.  Despite the severe brutality of these attacks, the Freedom Riders insisted on pushing forward and efforts continued throughout the month.  At the time, their actions were deemed disruptive and unpatriotic by much of the general public and even by the Department of Justice; however, by the end of the year, the Interstate Commerce Commission was fully compliant with the Supreme Court’s rulings, and the Freedom Riders served as an inspiration for many of the direct action initiatives that would soon follow.

You can learn more about the civil rights movement through Opening History, which includes such collections as the Civil Rights in Mississippi Digital Archive and the Civil Rights Digital Library among others.

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190 years ago, On December 14, 1819, Alabama became the 22nd U.S. state.

Confederate Veterans In Huntsville, Ala., 1938

Confederate veterans in Huntsville, Ala.


The photograph above, courtesy of Alabama Mosaic digital collection, shows Confederate veterans, gathered for a reunion in 1938, posing at the corner of Franklin and Gates Street in Huntsville, Alabama, on the spot where Alabama entered the United States in 1819.
The historic sketch below, from the same digital collection, depicts the Constitution Hall in Huntsville where the decision about joining the Union was made on December 14, 1819.
Constitution Hall 1819 (Huntsville, Alabama)

Constitution Hall 1819 (Huntsville, Alabama)

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Student plowing. Tuskegee, Alabama.

Student plowing. Tuskegee, Alabama.

Student Plowing, Tuskegee, Alabama
Part of the Keystone-Mast Collection
University of California – Riverside/California Museum of Photography
More information.

Welcome to the Sowing Culture Blog, an experiment created by the staff of the IMLS Digital Collections and Content project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sowing Culture is inspired by the work done at shorpy.com and by the recent efforts by the Library of Congress’ American Memory project and the Smithsonian Institution to share their collections through Flickr Commons.

At Sowing Culture we’ll offer our readers regular selections from the over 224 cultural heritage collections comprised of over 335,000 items we’ve gatthered into our repository. These digital collections have been funded by the Institute of Library and Museum Services, a a Federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership, and a lifetime of learning. Over the next year we’ll be continuing to add new materials to the IMLS DCC collections and look forward to highlighting the interesting, unique and rich cultural heritage that our partners have made available through the project.

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