After the Civil War, Memphis Vagrancy Laws Kept African Americans in ‘Slavery by Another Name’

Federal Authorities Authorized Patrols That Arrested Blacks and Gave Them to White Employers for Bounties

After the Civil War, the four million black Americans who had been enslaved encountered numerous new forms of authority, most of which seemed to promise protection and support rather than exploitation and abuse: teachers in schools, doctors in hospitals, employers who paid wages, the U.S. Army, municipal police, and a federal agency known as the Freedmen’s Bureau.

Becoming free involved figuring out the inconsistent rules and behaviors of these new authorities. The government, even as it sponsored freedom, was not always a just actor—nowhere more egregiously than in the case of …

More In: Civil Rights

Why Martin Luther King Had a 75 Percent Disapproval Rating in the Year of His Death

His Crusade to Confront Economic Injustice and the Vietnam War Angered Whites, While Younger Black Activists Had Lost Patience With His Nonviolent Tactics

According to an early 1968 Harris Poll, the man whose half-century of martyrdom we celebrate this week died with a public disapproval rating of nearly 75 percent, a figure shocking …

The Alabama Recording Studios Where Music Was Never Segregated

How the Muscle Shoals Sound Made a Rich Brew Out of Rock, Country, and R&B

Rod Stewart wasn’t pleased.

It was 1975, and the British rocker had traveled to Sheffield, Alabama, with a specific mission in mind: He wanted to record at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio …

How I Became the Voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

For 47 Years, I've Performed the Words of the Civil Rights Legend

A Biblical passage, Luke 12:48, states to whom much is given much is required. That is the attitude I have taken since I learned that I was given the gift …

The Lawyer Who Beat Back a Racist Law, One Loophole at a Time

Y.C. Hong Helped Chinese Immigrants Stay in America by Gaming a System Designed to Deport Them

Recent politics is full of debates about erecting walls on the U.S.-Mexican border or barring Muslims from entering the U.S. But excluding groups of immigrants based on a particular background …

Martin Luther King Jr. as Folk Art

Street Portraits Across L.A. Show How Different Neighborhoods Interpret the Civil Rights Leader in Their Own Image

I did not set out to document murals of Martin Luther King Jr. in American cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit. I just happened to find …