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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History





June 15, 2009

King and Colvin

Michael King was born January 15, 1929.  Growing up in Atlanta, he attended Booker T. Washington High School, skipping two grades along the way, entering Morehouse College at fifteen years old. By 1951 King had earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology as well as a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He then began his doctoral studies and achieved his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955.

At twenty-five years old, King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church but he had already begun to identify with the poor and disadvantaged and this would become the focus of his life. King would end up being one of the great Civil Rights leaders in American History. Although he was born Michael King, Jr., his father had changed both their to Martin. Michael became known by the name Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the same year that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. achieved his Doctor of Philosophy (1955), another important event in Civil Rights was taking place when a black female boarded a Capital Heights bus in Alabama.  She was sitting there as the bus began to fill, and when the other seats were filled, the bus driver ordered her, along with three other black passengers to surrender their seats to boarding white passengers.  She refused which prompted the bus driver to call the police to have her removed. She was charged and found guilty of a crime for this defiance.

The person that refused to give up her seat that day was 15 year-old Claudette Colvin. It wasn’t until later that year that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat under the same circumstances. What many do not realize is that although the actions of Rosa Parks did spark the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she was not the first to refuse to give up her seat on a bus, nor was Claudette Colvin for that matter. In 1946, Irene Morgan Kirkaldy refused to give up her seat on an interstate Greyhound bus and was jailed in Virginia. This case lead to a U.S. Supreme Court landmark 7-1 ruling that Virginia state law enforcing segregation did not apply to interstate buses. 

Mark Bowman

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Civil Right Movement

 Click picture to buy this book 

Public debate about how the civil rights movement should be remembered takes place in myriad ways, from naming streets after civil rights figures to the creation of memorials and museums, from depictions in movies and other cultural media to the commodification of iconic figures. Remembrances are also evident in the trials of now-old men who bombed churches and otherwise terrorized blacks and the appropriation of civil rights memories by politicians, including conservatives, to sell their political agendas.

History professor Romano and African American studies professor Raiford offer a collection of essays that examines the way this tumultuous period is now remembered. The book is organized in four parts analyzing how the era is officially remembered and commemorated; the role of visual culture in representing the era; elements of the movement that have been ignored in "official" narratives; and the way the movement is used in contemporary political struggles, including the push for gay rights.