Sunday, September 28, 2014

Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson & the Lincoln Memorial


Civil Rights Path Forged in 1939 by Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson


Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson
Eleanor Roosevelt (left), Marian Anderson (right)
Marian Anderson sang a historic concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939, nearly one-quarter century before the Lincoln Memorial became the location of the Martin Luther King "I Have a Dream Speech" at the conclusion of the March on Washington in 1963. 

Both Marian Anderson's concert at the Lincoln Memorial and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech" at the conclusion of the March on Washington were inspired by outrage against Jim Crow tradition and Jim Crow laws.

The March on Washington attracted a racially mixed audience of more than 200,000 in a peaceful protect against racism and poverty in America. Marian Anderson's concert attracted a racially mixed audience of more than 75,000 to her free concert, arranged by then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt after Anderson's application for performance at Constitution Hall was denied, based on her race. Marian Anderson was not permitted to bring song to Constitution Hall for her performance because the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), in charge of the facility, did not rent the space to nonwhite performers.

DAR Letter to Eleanor Roosevelt on Marian Anderson

Page 1, Letter to Eleanor; Page 2 Letter to Eleanor

When Eleanor read the letter about the snub the Daughters of the American Revolution made toward Marian Anderson's request to use Constitution Hall, Eleanor wrote a letter in which she resigned her membership and expressed her displeasure of the organization's treatment of Anderson. The First Lady, then went about making alternative arrangements for the Anderson concert.

"The DAR had adopted a rule excluding African-American artists from the Constitution Hall stage in 1932 following protests over "mixed seating," blacks and whites seated together, at concerts of black artists. You may read a 2-page letter from Mrs. Henry M. Robert, Jr., president general of the DAR, responding to Mrs. Roosevelt's resignation." "From: National Archives and Records Administration

Reassigned to the Lincoln Memorial by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, 

African American opera singer, Marian Anderson, sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and her performance launched her as the voice of the Civil Rights Movement. The audience was silent as Anderson presented her program with dignified presence, commanding respect of the universe.

The civil rights activism of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt did not begin or end with the Marian Anderson affair. The daughter of the brother of President Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor like learned her politics at the dinner table. Being of independent mind from the start and maturing into an independent person of action, Eleanor became force with which to be reckoned.

After marrying Franklin Roosevelt and then becoming First Lady, her columns, speeches, journals were captured in print. Behind the scenes it is said that she influenced the president's racial tolerance, although, not so much his actual civil rights policies, which were avoided due to southern dominance of the Democratic party.

The First Lady's philosophy is published in books, newspapers and magazines. So, it was no surprise that the Marian Anderson concert was arranged by First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, when the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to honor Anderson's application for a license to perform at Constitution Hall in Washington DC. The policy of the segregated city of Washington supported their decision. Anderson "was not white," her manager Sol Hurok was told by facility administration.

Until her death in 1962, Eleanor Roosevelt was a dedicated supporter of civil rights. Her social activism dates back to the 1939 Marian Anderson and DAR controversy over the use of Constitution Hall in Washington DC. the establishment of the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II and support of the peaceful protest doctrine of Martin Luther King.

"Charles Alfred Anderson, the first African American to earn his pilot's license, became the first flight instructor when the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) was organized at Tuskegee Institute in October 1939. The army decided to model its training program on the CPTP and hired Anderson to teach the Tuskegee pilots," Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

From 1949 until she died in 1962, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a column in McCall's, If You Ask Me, in which the former First Lady answered reader questions. In 1963, the same year as the March on Washington, Roosevelt's quotations were collected and published.

Marian Anderson at Lincoln Memorial
Both the March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King, and the Marian Anderson concert drew suspicion of trouble with gatherings so large in the nation's capitol. However, neither reported trouble. They both drew like-minded people who were there to make difference in the way the United States of America conducted its business at home and abroad.

Nearly one-quarter century at Marion Anderson, Martin Luther King did the same thing with his powerful voice and speech. And there was no question in either case, that one was witnessing history as portrayed by true Americans.

Marian Anderson was born in 1897 and died in 1993.
Eleanor Roosevelt was born in 1884 and died in 1962.

No person of any color, creed, religion, ethnic origin, nationality or economic class is more American than Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson, both of whom came upon this earth called to do a duty and neither failed in their performance of that duty.


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    Bigmama Didn’t Shop  At Woolworth’s  Sunny Nash

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Sunny Nash author of bigmama didn't shop at woolworth's
Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash is an author, producer, photographer and leading writer on U.S. race relations. She writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking. Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's (Texas A&M University Press), about life with her part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement.

Sunny Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations. Nash's book is also listed in the Bibliographic Guide for black studies at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida. Nash uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life--from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women's issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements--past and present—to today's post-racism.

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~Thank You~

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Teatime Rituals and Outdoor Entertaining

Teatime and evening meals outdoors make a poor family feel rich.


Texas Tea Map
Texas Tea Map

In the 1950s, when I was young , my mother and I sipped tea with lemon on Saturday afternoons under the shade of our mulberry tree. 


We enjoyed lounging on reclaimed, painted-to-match lawn furniture in our little garden like we were English royalty. When neighbors passed and they had time to spare, she invited them for a cup of tea and a cookie. "A cup of tea, a cookie and a smile cost pennies and make a person feel special," she said. It seemed natural for her to transform something or someone without offending or belittling. 

Drinking tea made her feel better and look younger, Littie said. 

Teabag & Cucumber Eye Compress
Teabag & Cucumber 
Eye Compress


"Just because you don't have a lot of money," she said, "doesn't mean you don't deserve to feel good or look good." 

My mother learned many of her teatime practices from a family in our neighborhood whose ancestors had been Chinese immigrants. By the time I knew these people, they were as African American as the rest of us, having been totally immersed within the African American community through marriage. 

However, the forefathers of these Chinese immigrants had told by them the story of their heritage and warned them to preserve what they had been told, lest their historical accounts be lost and forgotten. Chinese contributions were more than teatime. The American West, a historic, glorified and mythologized region of the United States, hardly acknowledges significant presence or recognizes how and why Chinese immigrants arrived, nor documents their diaspora traveling to other regions of the nation such as the Mississippi Delta, making the Chinese American West a story of its own.

After tea, my mother wrapped used teabags in plastic wrap and kept them in the refrigerator. Later, she used them for under-the-eye compresses. "Teabags to get rid of eye bags," she said. We didn't waist anything, even a used teabag. 


My mother reserved her more expensive imported Chinese Japanese teas, which she ordered from catalogs, for occasions when it was just the two of us. 



Don't Toss That Teabag!
They're not Trash!
At the time I was still a child and didn't have under-eye bags and, following my mother's instructions to the tea, I still don't. To this day, I press green tea- or black teabags under my eyes for an afternoon refresher before tossing the tea bags into the trash. My mother was right about tea helping to restore health, being an inducement to meditation and getting rid of bags under the eyes. 


Natural Ways To Get Rid of Bags Under the Eyes


Get Rid of Bags Under the Eyes, Iced Cucumber Slices
Iced Cucumber Slices
Get Rid of Bags 
Under Your Eyes
"Women have been figuring out how to look good with and without no money for centuries," she said. "The older ladies made their own beauty creams before face creams with skin lightening and tightening concoctions came on the market and the old-fashioned homemade wrinkle remedies work better than the store bought ones." 

Cucumber gel from real cucumbers was one of her specialties. She mixed the cucumber gel with brewed green tea and stored it in glass jars in the refrigerator. Another ritual of outdoor entertainment was bringing out a bowl of very thinly sliced cucumbers in ice. On a hot summer day, it was particularly refreshing to place slices over our eyes as we relaxed and talked. 

Red bird in a tree
On occasion at teatime, my mother brought
art supplies out and painted birds in the tree 
In the backyard relaxing under the mulberry tree sipping tea, we talked about the teatime rituals in a book she bought on how the ancient Chinese and Japanese ceremonies and tea customs that deepened one's understanding of everything. 

My mother was not only very smart, she was practical in her approach to raising me during the Jim Crow era. She knew Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King were out there trying to change things, but she also knew those changes were not going to come immediately. There were so many places African Americans couldn't go and so many things we couldn't do at that time in history, my mother's only recourse was through books and her own imagination. Therefore, she had to devise a method of cultivating me on her own if she wanted to expose me to other cultures. So, under her elegant touch, she turned the simplest occasions, like teatime or eating ice cream, into momentous events. 


Making tea was as important to my mother as taking tea. 


Teatime Magazine

Making Tea 


Photography by Mac Jamieson

Making tea is a serendipitous event. There is no manual that guarantees perfect tea if you follow five easy steps. Read 10 books by tea experts and you will find 10 different procedures and brewing times. The only constant is...read more

25 Best Homemade Ice-Cream Recipes



Although teatime was a ritual my mother honored, she also loved ice cream and often combined the two.


I could write books on my mother's second-hand fix-ups or giving poor relatives and neighbors their first experience with an elegantly set table with fine mostly mix-matched China plates and crystal glasses, proper use of silverware, dinner conversation and indoor plumbing. 

Homemade Peach-and-Toasted Pecan Ice CreamThis homemade treat is packed with two Southern favorites: refreshing peaches and nutty pecans. The sweet peaches add great texture, and the pecans pack in a crunchy bite to this homemade ice-cream recipe. From: Southern Living


Vintage White Mountain Ice Cream Freezer
Vintage White Mountain
Ice Cream Freezer
Littie made old-fashioned ice cream from a 100-year-old recipe, given to her by her grandmother and used her grandmother's antique wooden ice cream freezer, which stayed in the family for years, coming first into the possession of my grandmother via her mother. As a child, I remember taking turns with other children cranking the ice cream freezer. My mother usually made vanilla but occasionally mixed in fresh seasonal fruit or berries or mint from our garden, all of which she also used in our teatime rituals. I don't know what finally happened to the ice cream freezer, which would be mine by now.

Sausage and Veggies on the Grill
Sausage and Veggies on the Grill
DURING ICE CREAM SUMMERS, before we had air conditioning and before outdoor entertaining was fashionable, my mother prepared lavish cold-cut suppers to serve in our backyard. Sometimes, if the budget allowed, she cooked a few vegetables, sausage links or other meats on her barrel grill. She had a ton of grilling recipes from books and magazines that she was always anxious to try out on company. She learned her grilling skills from a host of pit bosses in and out of our family--black, white and Native American. 

Black Cowboys of Texas 

Littie talked about Saturday Night Suppers at Uncle Tinney's house when she was a young girl living on an isolated Texas farm. 


Uncle Tinney, only one of the black cowboys in our family. There were black cowboys and Indian blood in every family I knew. You could see it in the hair, cheekbones and dark red coloration in the skin. 

Uncle Tinney was married to my grandmother's sister, part Comanche through their father, my great grandfather, who knew about the old way and taught it to his offspring and in-laws of offspring. That could be the way Uncle Tinney learned some of his outdoor cooking techniques.

My mother said, "Uncle Tinny dug in the ground behind the house and lit a slow fire in the hole. Then he placed a whole pig or most of a pig wrapped in corn shucks in the hole and smoked the pig all day Friday. On Saturday just before the supper, he took out the tender meat, falling off the bone. With fresh white bread his wife baked in their outdoor oven, Uncle Tinny made sandwiches to sell at the supper. Everybody from miles around--black, white and brown--came to eat, drink Uncle Tinney's home-brewed beer, listen to Cousin Roy play is guitar and sing out of tune, and kick up dust dancing in the side yard.


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Ojibwa Woman Cooking, An Ethnographic Biography of Paul Peter Buffalo
Ojibwa Woman Cooking
An Ethnographic Biography 
of Paul Peter Buffalo
"My father taught all of us children how to hunt, clean and cook wild meat outdoors," my grandmother said. "That's the old way, the only way when he was a boy. Our people were starving. Wild meat and small game were how we survived because there was no money or store to buy meat. 'And why should you buy meat?' Bigmama's father would ask, 'when you can go out the back door and bag a rabbit or a squirrel, skin it and cook it over an open fire for supper.' So that is what we did," Bigmama said.

Much changed during the period between my grandmother's childhood and mine. When I was a little girl, my mother had a job, not making much money, but some. She said it didn't take a lot of money to transport us to someplace magical. "Everybody needs to have a magical place," she'd say. "All it takes were a few simple things, a little imagination and a nice cup of tea to start things off."


Before Outdoor Lighting, All-weather Lawn Furniture or Air Conditioning


outdoor lights hanging in trees similar to my mother's
Similar to my mother's outdoor lighting

Littie made a makeshift table from a rough wooden door under the mulberry tree in our little garden, and strung white holiday lights on low hanging branches. Our house had no outdoor lighting fixtures, except for a corner street lamp that came on at dusk and went off at dawn, about the time Mr. Hines's roosters began calling for morning into light.

She would decorate that table like it was in a palace or somewhere and you simply forgot you were in the low-end part of town that still had unpaved streets. Nothing matched, but she didn't care. Nothing had to match to make it elegant.

Portable Suitcase
Record Player

To complete outdoor entertaining, Littie brought out a record player she had bought at a yard sale. 


This old fashioned portable suitcase music machine was our third second-hand record player. Our first portable suitcase music machine only played large thick plastic 78 rpm (revolutions per minute) disks. Our second record player had two speed--78 rpm and 45 rpm for playing the smaller disk with the big hole in the middle. This suitcase music machine was deluxe as far as we were concerned because it had three speeds--78, 45 and 33 rpm. The 33 rpm was the latest. It played LPs (long playing), albums as they were called, the largest disks. 

My mother needed this new 33 rpm format to play her new LPs, albums as they were called. She connected the machine to power in the kitchen and brought the machine to the back door in the evening to lilt music of her favorite jazz artists, like Kenny Burrell or The Dave Brubeck Quartet. As soon as the studio released the music in 1959, she bought Dave Brubeck's album, Time Outjust to get the hit single, Take Five.

Similar to my mother's outdoor table setting
With music in the background, Littie went about covering the old door with a crisp bed sheet substituting for a  white linen tablecloth and laying out the goodies. Neighbors--often invited to our backyard gatherings--were required to bring their own chairs and sometimes they brought a little something to offer at the meal. 

"You can't throw an outdoor supper and let your friends stare from their yards," Littie said. "If you don't have something to offer them, keep your supper inside, no matter how hot it gets in there!"

My mother shared without expectations that our neighbors would reciprocate, not because they had less than we had. Some of them had as much or more. But most people don't know how to make a party out of next to nothing like my mother did. Few people I have ever known were as organized in planning anything as my mother. And no one I have ever known has been as sharing as my mother. I learned a lot from her but I wish I had learned more about generosity and grace. People just don't think like my mother, even me. 

Climbing Red Roses
Climbing Rose Garden
Many neighbors thought we were rich, but we were poor, too. My mother made up the difference by conducting our lives with style. Because of her, we were rich and we lived elegantly, complete with fresh floral arrangements cut from Littie's flower garden. At the front of the house on each side of the steps leading up to the porch, there were Easter Lilies; on either side of the porch, there were red roses climbing on the porch supports and banisters, white and yellow roses down below in the beds, and other colorful flowers and fruit trees blooming around the yard every spring and summer. 

Learn Outdoor Table Arranging
Learn Outdoor Table Arranging
never wondered, when I was a child, how my mother provided--no invented--so much with so little. I just took it all for granted. She knew how and, without making a big fuss, gave me a great life. I remember outdoor entertainment at Littie's looking something like this outdoor setting. 

My mother got so good at outdoor entertaining, grilling and creating recipes she could have written a book. Instead, she went to college and studied nutrition. 

When summer comes, hot sweet evening air stirs memories of Littie's outdoor entertaining suppers. As much as I miss her, I never want those memories to fade and as long as there is summer, they never will.


    Bigmama Didn’t Shop  At Woolworth’s  Sunny Nash

Hard Cover

Amazon Kindle
Sunny Nash author of bigmama didn't shop at woolworth's
Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash is an author, producer, photographer and leading writer on U.S. race relations. She writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking. Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's (Texas A&M University Press), about life with her part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement.

Sunny Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations. Nash's book is also listed in the Bibliographic Guide for black studies at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida. Nash uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life--from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women's issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements--past and present—to today's post-racism.

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© 2014 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
 www.sunnynash.blogspot.com 
~Thank You~

Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Montgomery Bus Boycott & Freedom Riders

You couldn't go there; you couldn't ride there; you couldn't sit there while waiting to ride there.



Colored Waiting Room Sign
Jim Crow Bus Station Waiting Room

Keeping people in their places was the nature of Jim Crow laws, which controlled every aspect of American life, including travel on the nation's buses, trains and certain roadways in the South. 


Oppression in transportation was fought on the very vehicles where Jim Crow segregation was practiced. Civil rights activists like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Diane Nash were among those who successfully led to the end of Jim Crow practices on America's public transportation through the Montgomery Bus Boycott in city bus transportation and the Freedom Riders on America's highways. Further, babies were not allowed to make their entrance into the world in certain hospitals. Clothing could bot be tried on in certain department stores. Dead bodies of different races could not be buried in the same cemetery. 


Discrimination and racial oppression was not always about color, but about difference and misunderstanding. 



Rights as basic as driving on certain highways, using restrooms while traveling, eating during a trip, sleeping at hotels and rest stops at roadside parks or seeking medical attention if involved in an accident were denied races of color and some races of different religion, language and culture, regardless of color, depending on the attitude of the community through which they were traveling. These were the signs of the times.



No Latinos

No Mexicans Allowed
No Mexicans


No Mexicans Allowed
No Mexicans

No Jews Allowed
No Jews


No Indians Allowed
No Indians


No Chinese Allowed
No Chinese

No Irish Allowed
No Irish

No Filipinos Allowed
No Filipinos


No Japanese Allowed
No Japanese


Colored Entrance Sign

There were highways that prohibited African Americans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans from use. Although, these prohibition was not official law, the prohibition was enforced by renegade officers of the law and other groups dedicated to humiliating and subjugating people of color; and bring on them all forms of disrespect and denial of their rights as citizens of the United States of America.

This is not ancient history as many may wish to believe. The denial of human rights, taking place even to this day, is a carryover from the old Jim Crow laws that had their origin during past centuries. Traditions die hard and, with the help of insensitive people, some find a way of mutating into less obvious offenses. But before we jump to today, let examine our topic as it affected thousands throughout the 1960s.

In the case of Jim Crow city bus services, the driver decided who sat down and who stood, and where customers entered or existed the bus. That constituted Jim Crow laws, exactly the same laws that regulated other pseudo public facilities like restrooms, where people in charge of the place made the decisions as to whom would be allowed to use the service, the entrance they would be allowed to enter and leave and whether or not and how their waiting room and restroom needs would be accommodated.

Decisions on access to facilities, accommodations and services were based on race, skin color or ethnicity, as Jim Crow laws applied . People of most ethnic groups--African American, Asian, Hispanic, Mediterranean, Jewish, Native American and others, many with white skin--could not pass the subjective racial test of Jim Crow law sympathizers. Colored was the category reserved for those who were of a dark-skinned, other non-white ethnicity, foreign undesirable groups, and people known to have at least one drop of African blood.

Jim Crow laws established separate but equal in (Plessy v Ferguson 1896). Businesses were obligated to provide facilities for all races and ethnic groups. Although Plessy was intended to prohibit black rights, the law also was applied to other people who did not fit the definition of white, and businesses serving whites only were not obligated to provide restrooms for patrons they considered to be non-white.

Although U.S. airline travel was not officially segregated, the price of tickets kept most poor people off of airplanes. However, African Americans who could afford to fly were often bumped from their flights by the airlines in favor of a white passenger who needed the same schedule. African American airline passengers also were moved to undesirable seats if a white passenger either wanted the seat or refused to sit beside a black passenger. Because there was an internationally famous entertainer in the music and movie business in my family, I heard stories about his travel difficulties. Rather than tolerate irregular treatment on his concert tours, he hired private airplanes for himself, his band, cast and staff. 

Black and colored female domestic workers were segregated by race and subject to unwanted sexual advances in homes of their employers. Economic intimidation was used to discourage these female workers from complaining, and if they did protest, their men, children, churches and communities were terrorized or burned in retaliation. 

I was only six years old when I began to understand that Rosa Parks, Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the rest of them were doing something important for us, something they were giving their full concentration, a thought process shared by my mother and Rosa Parks, and others involved in important work, as well as ordinary daily tasks. "If you think enough of a thing to do it," I can hear my mother's voice echoing in my head as I write. "Then you should do it as well as you can or leave it to someone willing to give it their full attention." 


Freedom Walkers:  The Story of the Montgomery  Bus Boycott
Holt McDougal Library:
 Freedom Walkers:
 The Story of the 
Montgomery Bus Boycott Grades 6-8
Rosa Parks by Douglas Brinkley
Rosa Parks: A Life
by Douglas Brinkley
Greyhound Bus a few times on out-of-town trips with my mother and I didn't like the noise or fumes. But for the Freedom Walkers, as the Montgomery protesters became known, the reason for staying off of city buses during the Montgomery Bus Boycott was much more significant than my childish notion of not liking to ride buses.

Freedom Walkers were those who refused to ride Alabama buses during the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Russell Freedman, the School Library Journal credits Freedman with excellent prose, a rich selection of photographs, extensive chapter notes and a large annotated bibliography. Many of the photographs in this book are the boycott images I remember from magazines of the time, particularly Life Magazine.


The Montgomery Bus Boycott, a movement to equalize local transportation in American cities, helped to dismantle Jim Crow laws across the nation.


Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King Montgomery Bus Boycott Mugshot
Rosa Parks & Martin Luther King
Montgomery Bus Boycott Mugshot
By the time Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had led the Montgomery Bus Boycott to victory in 1956, more than a year after it started, I had learned to read. My mother subscribed to an array of national publications to keep up with world and national affairs. These publications stayed in the house for years neatly folded and stacked in boxes under her bed. I looked at pictures of activists in these newspapers and magazines and tried to read the articles. 

In 1954, the same year of Rosa Parks led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement. I had been unable to read any part of the articles, not having yet entered first grade. However, one year later after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, with my mother's assistance, I was picking my way through new articles about Rosa Parks and older coverage of BrownSince that time, I have read extensively from a scholarly perspective on the Civil Rights Movement and also examined resources available for young students.

Thurgood Marshall after Brown v the Board of Education Students on Steps of the U.S. Supreme Court
Thurgood Marshall after Brown v the Board of Education
Students on Steps of the U.S. Supreme Court 1954
My mother and father were very interested in the Brown decision because of its impact on my education--where, and under what circumstances, I would attend school when I started first grade. The issues of integration and school attendance were so pertinent in every community--black and white--that sides were being drawn for fear of harm coming to the children--black and white.

Racial lines were already being drawn in places where some members of our family lived in nearby towns. When my cousin died in Iola, Texas, a small town about 30 miles away, just one month after the Brown ruling, her school was closed when the town's political officials and school leaders invoked a statute to close its school for colored due to its small number of black students. For the next ten years, my cousins were forced to drive themselves to schools that would take them as far away as 30 miles away in beat-up old cars their father kept running with his mechanical skills. Again, transportation played a crucial part in Jim Crow laws.

Freedom Riders Burning Bus 1963
Freedom Riders:
 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice
Nine years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Riders replaced Freedom Walkers that grew out of the Rosa Parks-led Montgomery Bus Boycott and further bolstered the Brown decision with a continuation of demonstrations against Jim Crow transportation and Jim Crow laws in general. 

Both the Freedom Riders and the Freedom Walkers used buses as their protest vehicle against Jim Crow discrimination across the Deep South. The difference was, the Freedom Walkers stayed off all city buses during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in protest of Jim Crow laws that enforced discriminatory seating and service; and the Freedom Riders stayed on buses to protest Jim Crow laws that enforced discriminatory seating and service. 


Diane Nash (center) Leads Demonstration
Against Jim Crow Laws
Nashville, Tennessee 1962
A fearless young college student from Nashville, Tennessee, Diane Nash, locked horns with the office of Robert F. Kennedy, who was U.S. Attorney General, in 1963, when she refused to call off the Freedom Riders protest on Greyhound and Trailways buses through the southern United States. In a conversation with an official, Nash pledged to train more black and white freedom riders, also college students like herself, as needed in the protest to replace those who were arrested, jailed, imprisoned, hospitalized and killed. 

The Freedom Riders boarded buses to challenge southern Jim Crow laws governing interstate transportation on interstate buses. By riding on Greyhound and Trailways buses through the Deep South, Freedom Riders protested Jim Crow laws that prevented African Americans from sitting in certain bus seats, waiting in certain areas of the station, and eating in bus station dining rooms.

for the next ten years, my younger cousins commuted to black schools in and around their county and graduated until President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the younger ones were officially invited to attend the white school in their town, where they graduated and all went on to attend and graduate from college.

Lyndon Johnson Signs Civil Rights Act of 1964


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    Bigmama Didn’t Shop  At Woolworth’s  Sunny Nash

Hard Cover

Amazon Kindle
Sunny Nash author of bigmama didn't shop at woolworth's
Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash is an author, producer, photographer and leading writer on U.S. race relations. She writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking. Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's (Texas A&M University Press), about life with her part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement.

Sunny Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations. Nash's book is also listed in the Bibliographic Guide for black studies at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended for Native American collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida. Nash uses her book to write articles and blogs on race relations in America through topics relating to her life--from music, film, early radio and television, entertainment, social media, Internet technology, publishing, journalism, sports, education, employment, the military, fashion, performing arts, literature, women's issues, adolescence and childhood, equal rights, social and political movements--past and present—to today's post-racism.

ushistory.org homepage

© 2014 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
 www.sunnynash.blogspot.com 
~Thank You~