Freedomways Reader: Prophets in Their Own Country

By Esther Cooper Jackson; Constance Pohl | Go to book overview

PART TWO
Reports from the Front Lines: Segregation in the South

J. H. O'DELL

From its beginning, Freedomways sought to provide the civil rights movement with a journal for the exchange of ideas and strategies forged in the actions of the day, in the tradition of Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and W.E.B. Du Bois.

The sixth decade of the twentieth century saw the growing use of "sit-ins" to integrate downtown lunch counters and other public facilities in the South. Largely organized by students attending traditionally Black colleges, the movement spread like wildfire. In the North, supporting actions mushroomed -- for example, picket lines in front of Woolworths and other department stores that operated Jim Crow facilities in the South. Within a few months, dozens of southern cities had begun desegregating some public facilities. And the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee had been founded at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina [in April 1960].

Running parallel to this activism was a routine presidential primary election campaign dominated by a lot of Cold War rhetoric about "missile gaps" and being "soft on communism." The civil rights denied to Black Americans was not a priority issue for the candidates. In

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