The Mississippi Sharecropper Who Helped Black Americans Win Voting Rights

Fannie Lou Hamer's Legacy Reminds Us That Everyday People Can Effect Change—Even When the Nation Is Impossibly Divided

Though Black people represented 50 percent of Mississippi’s voting age population in 1964, Jim Crow literacy tests, poll taxes, violence, and intimidation had managed to all but silence their political power at the polls. Now, adding to their disenfranchisement, white Southern Democrats were proposing seating an all-white delegation at that year’s Democratic National Convention.

Fannie Lou Hamer—a poor, middle-aged, Black sharecropper—wasn’t having it. That August, she testified before a convention committee, alongside better-known civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr., and demanded the right to represent the citizens of Mississippi …

The New Orleans Creoles Who Challenged Racism by Challenging Race Itself  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The New Orleans Creoles Who Challenged Racism by Challenging Race Itself 

Alongside Homer Plessy, Mixed-Race Activists Used a Unique Legal Arsenal to Attack White Supremacy

It took years of research for me to track down a photograph of the mysterious New Orleanian E. Arnold Bertonneau. Born in 1834, this Civil War-era civil rights pioneer was …

When Philadelphia’s Foul-Mouthed Cop-Turned-Mayor Invented White Identity Politics | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

When Philadelphia’s Foul-Mouthed Cop-Turned-Mayor Invented White Identity Politics

From 1972 to 1980, Frank Rizzo Led a Blue-Collar Backlash Against Civil Rights—in the Guise of Law-and-Order

Philadelphia’s City Hall was the largest municipal building in the United States when it opened in 1901. Its most outstanding feature towered 548 feet above the street below: a …

fracturing American confederate flag

Today’s Battle Over the Confederate Flag Has Nothing to Do With the Civil War

Popular Well Beyond the South, It Is Now a Modern Symbol of White Grievance and Nostalgia for Crumbling Hierarchies

Three years ago, Dylann Roof murdered nine people in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina and renewed a long-running debate about the meaning of the Confederate battle flag. …

The African American ‘Hidden Figures’ Who Desegregated the South’s Public Libraries

In Jackson, Blacks Endured Beatings and Dog Attacks to Gain Entrance, While in Birmingham They Used Sit-Ins to State Their Case

Historians of the civil rights era, between 1954 and 1968, have crafted an impressive body of literature focusing on the resolve of young black community activists who bravely resisted racial …

Suppressing Voting Rights Is as Old as the Republic—But the Tactics Keep Changing 

Discriminatory State Constitutions, Poll and Literacy Taxes, and Now Photo ID Laws All Have Been Used to Keep Ballots From the Less Powerful 

The more that efforts to suppress voting rights in America change, the more they remain the same.

From the earliest days of the republic to the present, politicians have sought to …