Civil Rights Campaigns & Court Cases

Sites & material dealing with key events and cases in the struggle for racial equality during the late 19th and first half of the 20th century.

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BlackPast: Buchanan v. Warley (1917)
BlackPast: Buchanan v. Warley (1917)
A brief explanation of this early piece of civil rights litigation relating to segregated housing ordinances in Louisville, Kentucky - here ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. While the ultimate impact of the ruling was limited, it demonstrated how the courtroom could provide an opportunity to resist Jim Crow.
The Sweet Trials (1925 & 1926)
The Sweet Trials (1925 & 1926)
In June 1925, prominent black medical doctor Dr. Ossian Sweet and his family were arrested and charged with the murder of one member of a white mob which tried to shoot at the Sweet home. Sweet had moved into a white neighbourhood - the case tells us much about the politics of race in the urban North in the early 20th century. This site contains a chronology, and key documents from the trial.
1920s–1948: Racially Restrictive Covenants
1920s–1948: Racially Restrictive Covenants
A short explanation, from the Fair Housing Center in Boston, of the main practice used to maintain residential segregation through the first half of the 20th century.
UKMC: The 'Scottsboro Boys' Trials 1931-1937
UKMC: The 'Scottsboro Boys' Trials 1931-1937
Site detailing one of the most infamous cases of state-sanctioned lynch law meeting resistance through the courts. 9 young black men were tried and found guilty of rape and sentenced to death. Civil rights lawyers from the NAACP & ILD then battled to clear them, exposing fractures within the struggle for black equality along the way. A key case in the legal struggle for equal justice. This site is a useful collection of chronologies, transcripts etc.
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy
Companion site to the PBS documentary, with a timeline, map, sources etc.