Your browser is not supported. For the best experience, you should upgrade to a modern browser with improved speed and security.
Tag: civil rights
  • The Lovings' landmark civil rights case overturned bans against interracial marriage in 16 states.

    One morning in 1958, the county sheriff and two deputies burst into Mildred and Richard Loving's bedroom in Central Point, Virginia. Their crime? Mildred was Black and Richard was White; the couple had broken Virginia's anti-miscegenation law, which criminalized interracial marriages. The couple decided to fight the ban, becoming plaintiffs in a milestone civil rights case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. When the court sided with the Lovings in their unanimous decision on June 12, 1967 after a nine-year legal battle, the historic ruling overturned bans on interracial marriage in 16 states. Fifty years after the historic change they brought about, the Lovings' granddaughter, Eugenia Cosby, succinctly summed up the lesson they taught the world: "If it's genuine love, color doesn't matter." Continue reading Continue reading

  • While working with the French Resistance, Josephine Baker smuggled secrets written in invisible ink on her sheet music.

    The popular image of Josephine Baker is of a daring entertainer, one who often shocked audiences by defying all the conventions of the day. But behind the tabloid fodder of  her dramatic stage performances and glamorous lifestyle — including a pet cheetah — there was a complex woman that many of her fans never saw. Baker was a French Resistance spy, a civil rights activist, and an adoptive mother to a "Rainbow Tribe" of a dozen diverse children that she hoped could model racial unity. "She never thought that anything was impossible," observes Bennetta Jules-Rosette, author of Josephine Baker in Art and Life: The Icon and the Image. "She could do things we would consider ahead of their time, because she never thought she would fail." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Dorothy Height was the "the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement," though her contributions are largely unknown today.

    When Dorothy Height showed up at Barnard College in 1929 with her admission letter in hand, she was told by a college dean that they had already reached their quota of "two Negro students per year." Height, who had just graduated with honors from an integrated high school in Rankin, Pennsylvania, says that she was crushed, recalling, “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep for days." Unwilling to defer her dreams, she visited New York University with her Barnard acceptance letter and they admitted her on the spot. It was this determination that would drive Height through the following decades as she became, as President Barack Obama observed, "the only woman at the highest level of the Civil Rights Movement — witnessing every march and milestone along the way." Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top 50 books for children and teens about heroic girls and women who fought for justice during the Civil Rights Movement.

    From the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Greensboro sit-ins, the Freedom Rides, school integrations, the March on Washington, Freedom Summer, the Selma to Montgomery marches, we hear many stories about the pivotal events of the Civil Rights Movement, but so many are about the remarkable men in leadership positions at the time. But what of the women? What of the girls? Rosa Parks’ story is a powerful and important one, but surely hers can’t be the only story of courageous girls and women in the Civil Rights era. Continue reading Continue reading

  • At six years old, Ruby Bridges famously became the first Black child to desegregate an all-White elementary school in the South.

    The moment has been immortalized in a Norman Rockwell painting with the apt title The Problem We All Live With: a little African American girl walks to school, surrounded by a team of U.S. Marshals, with racist graffiti and thrown garbage ornamenting the wall behind her. Ruby Bridges was only 6 years old in 1960 when the first grader arrived for her first day of school at  William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans — and was met by a vicious mob. The courageous girl would spend a year alone in the classroom, since other children had been removed by their parents due to her presence. But today, the 68-year-old Bridges says that those difficult days were worth it: "I now know that experience comes to us for a purpose, and if we follow the guidance of the spirit within us, we will probably find that the purpose is a good one." Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for children and teens about real-life girls and women who fought for a more just, equal, and peaceful world.

    When people think about what it means to love their country, some assume patriotism requires unwavering support, and that questioning or disagreeing with their government's choices is unpatriotic, disruptive, and even dangerous. But the truth is that dissent makes countries stronger: when citizens demand the best from their leaders and their countries — justice, accountability in government, and equal rights for all — everyone benefits. In fact, throughout history, progress for every country has come from people's willingness to stand up for what they believe in and insist on being heard, even if their beliefs counter those of the people in power. In other words, dissent isn't distracting or divisive: it's patriotic! Continue reading Continue reading

  • marian2By Lili Sandler, A Mighty Girl Senior Research Intern

    On this day in Mighty Girl history, acclaimed singer and civil rights pioneer Marian Anderson was born in Philadelphia in 1897. Her musical talent was evident from a young age, and her parents did everything they could to encourage her musical pursuits. Anderson was only 6 when she began performing with the Union Baptist Church, where she was often referred to as “baby contralto”.

    Her family was unable to afford piano lessons, so little Marian taught herself to play starting at the age of 8. Dedicated to her church choir, she would rehearse all of the parts to the every song, performing them for her family until they were just right. Her community was so impressed with her commitment that they raised enough money to pay for private lessons with a well-known vocal instructor. Continue reading Continue reading

  • rosa stamp Image Credit: U.S. Postal Service

    On this day in Mighty Girl history, we remember Rosa Parks who was commemorated on this stamp released today on what would have been her 100th birthday. Dubbed “the first lady of Civil Rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement” by the United States Congress, Parks is most often remembered for her refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama in December of 1955. This act of courage and defiance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the pivotal events in the US Civil Rights Movement.

    This was not her first, nor would it be her last, contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. In fact, she had been a member and the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP for 12 years prior to the bus boycott. She also attended the Highlander Folk School, a social justice leadership training school, the summer before refusing to give up her bus seat.

    Parks and her husband moved to Michigan shortly after the bus boycott as a result of losing their jobs. There, Parks was hired as receptionist for U.S. Representative John Conyers Detroit office, where she worked until she retired in 1988. Rosa Parks received many awards and accolades in her life, most notably the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Continue reading Continue reading

8 items