Civil Rights Forebears
Civil Rights Forebears
“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it.”
– Paul Robeson before the House of Un-American Activities (1956)
Against the heightened conservatism of the 1950s, music and art subcultures, early civil rights activists, and LGBTQ groups laid foundations for future civil rights movements. Targeted by McCarthyism, these groups put their safety, community, livelihood, and freedom at risk to challenge norms.
The continuation of racial covenants and discrimination keep communities of color out of suburbs.
The Red Scare and McCarthyism blankets the U.S. Joseph McCarthy, a conservative Senator, leads public hearings condemning so-called Communists and their sympathizers as un-American.
Among these were the “Hollywood Ten,” a group of producers, directors, writers, and actors that were blacklisted, shunned, fined, and jailed for refusing to incriminate their friends and colleagues. They represent the thousands of others who suffered similar attacks.
While Elvis Presley steals center stage, portraits of Chuck Berry, Charlie Parker, and Big Mama Thornton pay homage to the Black musicians and creators crucial to the birth of rock ’n’ roll.
Forebears of the civil rights movement, Paul Robeson, Rosa Parks, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther King Jr. make their way to the front of the bus. To the right of Rosa Parks, police violently push the gay community back into the closet.
As artists, the Beats challenged traditional values. Openly gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg recites his famous poem, Howl. Behind him a garment worker’s cloth becomes a film reel referencing Jewish contributions to the film and garment industries in the 1950s.
Scientist Albert Einstein holds an atom, revealing his reservations about atomic power and his desire that it be used for peaceful purposes.
Forced assimilation and urban relocation programs sought to deprive Native Americans of their traditional cultural practices and homelands.
A Korean obtaining US citizenship and a Japanese farmer in his newly purchased field speak to the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act, which ended citizenship bans against Japanese and Korean communities, reflecting an end to federal anti-Asian exclusion laws and allowed Asians to gain citizenship and property. Though it reflected an end to federal anti-Asian exclusion laws, it still severely restricted Asian immigration into the U.S.
Mills, a Dakota Oglala marathon runner, became an Olympian. He is pictured alongside Olympians Vicky Manalo Draves, Sammy Lee, and Wilma Rudolf.