Beginnings: Brown, Till & Montgomery

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Separate is not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education
Separate is not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education
The Smithsonian Museum's guide to Brown is light on documents but strong on narrative and images. Details the characters and arguments involved in fighting the case on both sides. A sound place to begin understanding why this case was so significant in legal history. Also contains some great resources on the implementation battle that raged on for the decades to follow.
Brown v. Board of Education (May 17th 1954)
Brown v. Board of Education (May 17th 1954)
From Our Documents - the text of the 1954 ruling from the US Supreme Court that decided on the point of law - that separate but equal provision in education is not constituional.
US Court Service: The Road to Brown
US Court Service: The Road to Brown
Site detailing the cases that set the precedents on which the Brown case was fought. Details how the NAACP moved from fighting to ensure educational opportunities and reveal 'separate but equal as a sham, to challenging its fundamental inequality.
Library of Congress: Resources for Brown
Library of Congress: Resources for Brown
The LoC's hub for all materials of use in studying Brown.
National Archives: Timeline of Civil Rights Litigation
National Archives: Timeline of Civil Rights Litigation
As the title suggests, a really useful chronological guide to the civil rights of African Americans from the Dred Scott case in 1857 (that stated no black person, free or slave, could be a citizen) through to Brown II in 1955 - the 'implementation' ruling that decided how desegregation should happen in fact. The site also has links to other pages with source material - useful.
Teaching with documents: Brown vs Board
Teaching with documents: Brown vs Board
A National Archives page with documents attached offering some strategies for teaching the significance of Brown.
With An Even Hand: Brown v. Board at Fifty
With An Even Hand: Brown v. Board at Fifty
The L of C's online exhibition. Includes scanned copies of primary source material - such as guidance from Earl Warren, NAACP briefs and images of key protagonists. Useful.
Jet Magazine, September 15th 1955 - Emmett Till report
Jet Magazine, September 15th 1955 - Emmett Till report
Jet Magazine was a national weekly magazine for news and entertainment, aimed at a black audience and made by the publishers of Ebony. This edition reported on the death of Emmett Till at the hands of white racists and included shocking photos of Till's body after it had been recovered. The magazine played a key role in turning a local tragedy into a national outrage. The image still has the power to shock, so be warned.
Famous American Trials Emmett Till (1955)
Famous American Trials Emmett Till (1955)
Douglas Linder's page contains photos and transcripts from the trial of Till's murderers, and their subsequent confession of guilt.
They Changed the World: Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
They Changed the World: Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Website from the the Montgomery Advertiser, the local newspaper. As such, it makes great use of their archive, but you also get oral histories and biographies of the key players, including Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon & Martin Luther King.
Montgomery Bus Boycots Documents, Articles, & Memories 1955-1956
Montgomery Bus Boycots Documents, Articles, & Memories 1955-1956
As the title suggests, a range of documents, images, memories and oral histories from participants and activists.
Eyes on the Prize: Montgomery
Eyes on the Prize: Montgomery
Part of the Eyes on the Prize site, this has news clippings, video, images and analysis of this key campaign.
WPC Montgomery Bus Boycott Threat (21st May, 1954)
WPC Montgomery Bus Boycott Threat (21st May, 1954)
If you want evidence that black Montgomery was already planning a boycott prior to Rosa Parks arrest, this is it. Jo Ann Robinson's letter from 1954 details the ongoing battle for fair access already being fought in the city.
Illustration of Rosa Parks' seat position on the day of her arrest
Illustration of Rosa Parks' seat position on the day of her arrest
During the case Browder et al vs Gayle - the civil case fought by the MIA & NAACP to end segregation on Montgomery's buses, this seating plan was submitted showing exactly where Parks was seated when she was arrested.
Historical Thinking Matters: Montgomery Sources
Historical Thinking Matters: Montgomery Sources
A range of primary materials on Montgomery, supported by images and audio.
Rosa Parks arrest report (Dec 1st 1955)
Rosa Parks arrest report (Dec 1st 1955)
A scanned copy of the police report detailing Rosa Parks' arrest. From the Martin Luther King Papers project at Stanford.
Call for Boycott (2nd Dec 1955)
Call for Boycott (2nd Dec 1955)
Prior to the MIA being formed,and Martin Luther King becoming involved, Jo Ann Robinson and the Montgomery Women's Political Council had already devised plans for a one-day bus boycott on 5th December. This leaflet, amended by local civic leaders to include a planning meeting after the boycott was widely distributed in the wake of Parks' arrest. What does it tell you about the local community role in the boycott?
Rev. Ralph Abernathy recalls the first meeting of the MIA
Rev. Ralph Abernathy recalls the first meeting of the MIA
This short extract from one of Martin Luther King's key allies recalls the first meeting of the MIA.
'To the Montgomery Public' Dec 25th 1955
'To the Montgomery Public' Dec 25th 1955
This advert in the Alabama Journal sets out the grievances and demands of the MIA. Interesting to note the MIA did not want full desegreagation, but a first come, first serve, white customers at the front, black customers at the back arrangement. What does this tell you about the nature of the campaign? Why did the goals eventually change?
'Lesson From Gandhi' 12th December, 1955
'Lesson From Gandhi' 12th December, 1955
This letter to the Montgomery Advertiser gives an insight into how quickly Gandhian ideas of nonviolence began to influence the boycott.