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May 17, 1954 go to audio

Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, ruled unanimously that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The court argued that segregation hurt both black and white students by instilling in each group false feelings of inferiority and superiority, respectively. The court added that the damage segregation did to blacks was "likely never to be undone." This ruling opened the floodgates of civil rights activity and led to more than a decade of protest against inequality and injustice in other areas of American life.


audioClick on the play button to hear the following excerpt. 
                                                                                                                         Total time: 1 minute, 11 seconds
And in the meantime, the white children had school buses. They had school buses. They could pass by us on the school bus while we were walking. And they had much better heating. Better schooling, too. Because they had better heat and everything. A lot of times we had to go to school and make a fire. Cold. Whew. Froze and walking. You know, it was really cold. Yeah, and it's cold there too. You know, your feet's cold, hands cold, little children you know, and you got to go ahead and make a fire. Didn't have nobody, no janitor or nobody to make it. I figured it was necessary to go and integrate ‘cause you get the better facilities and everything. Now, you take when, before they integrated it, they always said we gonna keep'em separate but equal. But it's separate, but it wasn't equal. But they didn't have equal facilities like that. So to get the facilities, it would become necessary to go over there and integrate with them. That's the reason I'd love if I could go ahead and integrate, because, you know, to get all the facilities. But if they got equal, if they got equal facilities, I'd have rather kept it segregated.

-- Bilbo Rodgers, a native of Louisville, Mississippi, was an active participant in the movement on the Gulf Coast.

audio Click on the play button to hear the following excerpt.   Total time: 46 seconds
We had a terrible idea that it was sinful to be black, that God only loved white people. You know, we kind of felt that way about it. And then we found out that "all of God's creation was good" so He said, and it was just in my mind, which didn't mean a thing, that people are good and bad. People white, black, yellow, whatever color you want, the rich and poor.

-- Amzie Moore, prominent civil rights activist who grew up in poverty in rural Mississippi.
He was an active leader and one-time president of the Mississippi NAACP. He helped to organize and direct the activities of Freedom Summer, started head start programs, and encouraged blacks to become economically self-sufficient.