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Demanding to be an American
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A young historian once asked an elderly African American man when he had joined the civil rights movement, assuming that significant opposition to Jim Crow racism only emerged in the 1960s. The man replied, "I've been in the civil rights movement all my life." Indeed, blacks in the Jim Crow era used various means to fight segregation and racism. In addition to creating advocacy organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), blacks put up their own private battles in their relationships with whites. In the South, overt rebelliousness could provoke a lynching, so many blacks found subtle ways to combat the humiliation and economic hardship imposed by Jim Crow: a maid refused to answer to an insulting nickname; a college student sat in the white section of a city bus. Now and then, fighting back meant using fists and guns.

Interview Excerpts
(Real Audio, How to Listen)
You Don't Know Me Georgia Sutton & Olivia Cherry, 1:13
North to the Promised Land Charles Gratton, 1:29
Don't Call Me Nigger Lillian Smith, 1:00
Starting a Riot Price Davis, 7:56
Shutting Big Bear Down Otis Pinkard, 1:06
Any person guilty of printing, publishing or circulating matter urging or presenting arguments in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
—Mississippi Law  |  More Laws

Otis Pinkard
One of ten kids in mixed-race family.

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