“…the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama campus to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro.”
Draft of the President John F. Kennedy’s civil rights speech on June 11, 1963, written by Theodore S. Sorensen with notes by Robert F. Kennedy, following Alabama Governor George Wallace’s refusal to admit two African American applicants to the University of Alabama, James Hood and Vivian Malone Jones.
Click to see the full draft as well as the final speech, which was delivered by the President nationwide on radio and television.
From May 22 to 31, the digital collection of the USCT Service Records will be free on www.Fold3.com.
On May 22, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders 143, establishing a Bureau of Colored Troops in the Adjutant General’s Office to recruit and organize African American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. With this order, all African American regiments were designated as United States Colored Troops (USCT).
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the USCT, and the National Archives is pleased to announce the completion of the USCT Service Records Digitization Project. In partnership with Fold3, the project provides online access to all service records—more than 3.8 million images—of Union volunteers in USCT units.
Remember: All National Archives collections on Fold3.com can always be viewed for free at a computer at any National Archives facility nationwide.
The photo and paperwork above come from the compiled military service records of former slave Edmund Delaney. Read his story on the Prologue blog.
War Department General Order 143: Ordering the Creation of the U.S. Colored Troops, May 22, 1863
The outbreak of the Civil War set off a rush by free black men to enlist in U.S. military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. Army. The Lincoln administration wrestled with the idea of authorizing the recruitment of black troops, concerned that such a move would prompt the border states to secede.
However, following the Emancipation Proclamation and faced with dwindling white volunteers, black recruitment was pursued in earnest. Volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Massachusetts filled the first authorized black regiments. Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship. (Two of Douglass’s own sons contributed to the war effort.) Volunteers began to respond, and in May 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the burgeoning numbers of black soldiers. By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10 percent of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army, and another 19,000 served in the Navy.
via Our Documents
“I respectfully remind you sir, that we have been the most patient of all people.”
-Letter from Jackie Robinson to President Eisenhower of May 13, 1958
After he retired from Major League Baseball, Jackie Robinson went on to champion the cause of civil rights from his position as a prominent executive of the Chock Full o’Nuts Corporation.
Robinson had grown increasingly impatient with what he regarded as President Eisenhower’s failure to act decisively in combating racism. In this letter dated May 13, 1958, he expresses his frustration and calls upon the President to finally guarantee Federal support of black civil rights.
BLACK FAMILY ENJOYING THE SUMMER WEATHER AT CHICAGO’S 12TH STREET BEACH ON LAKE MICHIGAN. FROM 1960 TO 1970 THE PERCENTAGE OF CHICAGO BLACKS WITH AN INCOME OF $7,000 OR MORE JUMPED FROM 26 TO 58%. MEDIAN BLACK INCOME DURING THE PERIOD INCREASED FROM $4,700 TO $7,883, BUT THE DOLLAR GAP BETWEEN THEIR GROUP AND THE WHITES ACTUALLY WIDENED, 08/1973
From the Records of the Environmental Protection Agency (12/02/1970-)
Earlier today, the National Archives in Washington, DC hosted Jimmie Walker the actor who played J.J. Evans in the 1970s television show Good Times and the author of Dynomite!: Good Times, Bad Times and Our Times- A Memoir.
Watch the archived webcast here: http://www.ustream.tv/usnationalarchives
Jimmie Walker got his start performing comedy in small clubs, and ultimately became a 1970s icon playing J.J. Evans on Good Times.
Walker will be talking about his memoir at the National Archives on Friday, May 3, at noon.
He was the first successful young black sitcom star, and his catchphrase—“Dyn-o-mite!”—remains an indicator of the era. In Dynomite!, Walker talks candidly about his rise and the tensions on the set of Good Times that contradict the show’s image of a close-knit blue-collar family.
A book signing will follow the program.
Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This decision would not only integrate baseball, but would help the country work to achieve equal rights for all. Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., once commented to baseball pitcher Don Newcombe, “Don, you and Jackie will never know how easy you made my job, through what you went through on the baseball field.”
Before becoming famous, Lt. Jack R. Robinson was court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and received an honorable discharge, but this was not the only experience he would have in fighting discrimination.
After retiring from baseball, Robinson turned much of his attention to civil rights issues. He wrote to several Presidents about the cause, and even attended the March on Washington.
Many of these milestone events from Robinson’s life are documented in primary sources from the National Archives.
“‘Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer.’
The very words of poor Peter, taken as he sat for his picture.”
Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 4/2/1863
This 1863 photograph of “Peter,” a former slave displaying scars from his overseer’s whippings, was widely reproduced as evidence of slavery’s cruelty. The image was sometimes paired with a photo or drawing of “Peter” after his enlistment in the U.S. Army. “Peter” was sometimes identified as “Gordon.”
TWO BLACK YOUTHS AND A DOG IN PATERSON, NEW JERSEY. THIS PROJECT IS A PORTRAIT OF THE INNER CITY ENVIRONMENT. IT CONTAINS THE LIFE THAT GOES ON THERE, AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE ENVIRONMENT SOME OF THE BEST AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE SURVIVES IN HER “WORST” NEIGHBORHOODS, ONLY BECAUSE IT HASN’T BEEN DEMOLISHED. MOST OF ALL THE INNER CITY ENVIRONMENT IS HUMAN BEINGS, AS BEAUTIFUL AND THREATENED AS THE 19TH CENTURY BUILDINGS THEY INHABIT, 06/1974
Fashions may have changed since the 70s, but a cute little puppy never goes out of style. Happy National Puppy Day!
It’s Flashback Friday! Do you have a photograph of someone in your family in a powder blue tuxedo?
See more 1970s fashion in our new exhibit “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project.”
Image: “Michigan Avenue, Chicago” (couple on street) Perry Riddle, Chicago, IL, July 1975. National Archives, Records of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Happy Facial Hair Friday! This self portrait, with carefully groomed mustache in the center, is a glamorous photo of a hardworking, groundbreaking photographer.
James Stephen “Steve” Wright was from a working-class family in Washington, DC. By the 1940s he was head of photographic operations for the Federal Works Agency.
In an interview with Nicholas Natason, Wright recalled that “In those days, it was tough for a black man even to become a file clerk in the government … You had to mind your P’s and Q’s, because there were lower-level whites who resented the fact that you were doing photography at all and were waiting for you to stumble.”
But Wright was extremely good at his job; he was efficient, diplomatic and organized. In 1957, Wright was appointed as Photographic Branch Chief at the Department of State. He created State’s first central file on diplomatic personalities, events, and facilities.
Read the full story of Wright’s Federal career over on the Pieces of History blog.
Image: Steve Wright during his Federal Works Agency days. National Archives (208-NP-IY-1).
Frederick Douglass, February 1818 - February 20, 1895
Born into slavery in Maryland in 1818, Frederick Douglass went on to become a prominent abolitionist, author, orator and statesman.
Frederick Douglass, ca. 1879
From the Frank W. Legg Photographic Collection of Portraits of Nineteenth-Century Notables: