Whenever we see the newsreels from that time, we see black men in the room with President John F. Kennedy or President Lyndon Johnson. We see black men in the great struggle leading the way, making the decisions, fighting the good fight.
In documentaries such as PBS Eyes on the Prize, we can see black women and girls being hosed down with water canons and beaten by policemen. Yet, for the most part even the most celebrated female civil rights figures had no voice; they mostly remained silent and supportive of their male counterparts.
Black Women Crucial To The Civil Rights Movement
Black women were crucial to the civil rights movement, these black women Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott-King, Fannie Lou Hammer, Ella Baker, Dorothy Height, Septima Clark, Marian Wright Edelman, Myrlie Evers and Constance Baker Motley. We should all know their names, because these are some of the more notable names on a very long list of “unsung” black heroines who marched, sat, rode, bled and died in the struggle for equality during the Civil Rights Movement.
Women were the backbone that provided all the support that made it possible.
African-American women who did all the grunt work behind the scenes with diligence and later, many (most?) were cast aside and today with few exceptions are forgotten.
How many of us have considered the physical danger these women and children were put in? We have to remove the blinders or romanticism to properly assess the retaliation that went on behind the scenes. You’d have to imagine if law enforcement would let an attack dog loose on a person in plain sight something even worse occurred in absence of photographers and television crews.The women who participated in the Freedom Rides and other resistance were likely exposed to untold abuse including sexual assault.
The unsung heroes of the civil rights movement were always the wives and the mothers.
Daisy Bates, a newspaper publisher with her husband, was a key figure in integrating Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Shirley Chisholm, elected to 7 terms in Congress from New York, worked for women’s and minority rights, and in 1972, ran for President.
Her support for revolutionary black activist George Jackson led to her arrest as a conspirator in the abortive attempt to free Jackson from a Marin County, California, courtroom. Biography and links to other Net resources including articles by Davis and interviews with Davis.
Fannie Lou Hamer Facts
A profile of Fannie Lou Hamer, key figure in the American civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Anna Arnold Hedgeman
Anna Arnold Hedgeman was an important activist for civil rights, education, feminism and other important causes. Read about Anna Arnold Hedgeman, who was there for pivotal moments of 1960s U.S. history, including the founding of NOW and the March on Washington.
Constance Motley was a civil rights lawyer who fought nearly every important civil rights case for two decades, winning the desegregation of schools, buses and lunch counters, and then became the first black woman to serve as a federal judge,
Marian Wright Edelman
Edelman was the first African American woman admitted to the The Mississippi Bar. She began practicing law with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.‘s Mississippi office, working on racial justice issues connected with the civil rights movement and representing activists during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964.