Page 1

Septima Clark Ella Baker Dorothy Height Rosa Parks Daisy Bates Fannie Lou Hamer Shirley Chisholm Cynthia Tucker Lorraine Hansberry Betty Shabazz Sonia Sanchez Vivian Jones Elaine Brown Angela Davis Kathleen Cleaver Assata Shakur

Martin Luther King Malcolm X Jesse Jackson John Lewis Lenny Bruce Huey Newton Robert Williams Thurgood Marshall Bobby Seale Ted Abernathy Harry Haywood Fred Shuttlesworth Eldridge Cleaver Bobby Hutton George Jackson Stokely Carmichael Amiri Baraka John Carlos Tommie Smith Edgar Nixon




Women 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33

Septima Clark Ella Baker Dorothy Height Rosa Parks Daisy Bates Fannie Lou Hamer Shirley Chisholm Cynthia Tucker Lorraine Hansberry Betty Shabazz Sonia Sanchez Vivian Jones Elaine Brown Angela Davis Kathleen Cleaver Assata Shakur

s e n i o r e H g n u s Un

Introduction The African-American civil rights movement (1945-1970) was one of the most active social movements of the Century. People were fighting for racial equality including the right to vote and an end to segregation. The movement is characterized by the strong civil resistance to the oppression of Black people in the United States at that time. This resistance came in the form organised sit-ins, boycotts, demonstrations and rallies. It was the time of the freedom riders who were campaigning and lobbying in order to fight the prejudice. They used non violent protest and civil disobedience to create social change. Common phrases were ‘Power To The People’ and ‘By Any Means Necessary’ People were inspired to act against the injustices they faced and the movement saw growth all over the country.

Jackson; these are the names we remember from this era. These are the people we recognise as being at the forefront of the organisations, leading the people in their united struggle. This document aims to explore the unsung heroines of the civil rights movement. Although historians agree women played a vital role during this time women are still often overlooked. Facing both racism and sexism means that their fight for equality was perhaps twice as hard and it is important that they are recognised as influencial people. The few women that are recognised as heroines in the movement, are the wives of key leaders like Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver and Martin Luther King. By looking at the stories of women such as Betty Shabazz and Kathleen Cleaver, who rarely get mention as independant activists, I hope to bring to light the amazing efforts they made.

Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Jesse 1

1945 -1970

The Civil Rights Movement

NAME A CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER Malcolm X Malcolm X Malcolm X Malcolm X Malcolm X

Rosa Parks Rosa Parks Rosa Parks Rosa Parks

Martin Luther King Martin Luther King Martin Luther King Martin Luther King Martin Luther King Martin Luther King

Stokeley Carmicheal John Carlos

Bobby Hutton

Amiri Baraka

George Jackson

Thurgood Marshall

Huey Newton

Jesse Jackson

Harry Haywood

Edgar Nixon

Lenny Bruce

Angela Davis

Bobby Seale

John Lewis

Angela Davis

Fred Shuttlesworth

Eldridge Cleaver

Tommy Smith

Robert Williams

Martin Luther King Martin Luther King Martin Luther King Martin Luther King


Women The reason for paying tribute to these women, that made great sacrifices in hope to make the world a better place, is to keep their efforts alive. There is a lot that can be learnt from our history, especially from such an important era that saw many changes come about. In some Southern states, African American women did not get the right to vote until the sixties and the suffrage battle was won by women fighting tirelessly for their rights.

& ME I chose to look at these women because their achievements have been a huge inspiration to me. I am a member of the free Mumia Abu Jamal Defense campaign uk, which aims to free one of the most weidely known political prisoners in the world. I have also been involved in Women Against Rape as well as many other politically motivated groups. These experiences have taught me that it is not easy to create social change and that efforts of this sort often go unnoticed. In order to remember the efforts of these women I think it is important to recognise them as heroines. They are my heroines because they relentlessly fought (and in some cases, still fight) for what they believed in despite facing prejudice. I want to learn from their courage and show people that being part of the struggle for freedom is not in vain.


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The women explored in this book were instrumental in the struggle for equality and freedom. They demonstrated, organised and lead just as the men did. Septima Clark played a very important role in the drive for equal voting rights and fought hard to make education available to the African-American community. Ella Baker, the grand-daughter of a slave, was interested in civil rights from a young age. She inspired the famous bus boycott in Alabama and ran a voter registration campaign as well as helping raise money for Martin Luther King’s organisation in 1957. Dorothy Height fought against drugs, illiteracy and unemployment. Rosa Parks spearheaded the campaign to boycotting buses in 1955 by refusing to give her seat up to a white male. As well as her efforts in the movement Daisy Bates is also known for her writing and publishing. She played a leading role in the Little Rock Integration Crisis in 1957. Fannie Lou Hamer was an electrifying speaker and an outspoken critic of the Vietnam war. Author, educator and politician, Shirley Chisholm was a congresswoman for over 10 years. Cynthia Tucker was known for her stance against mysogenistic rap music and as founding the MLK Association for Non-Violence. Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘A Raisin In The Sun’ - a story about segregation and racism in the United States, was her most successful play. She also wrote political speeches and texts. Betty Shabazz is perhaps best known for being the wife of Malcolm X despite her life’s dedication to black community affairs. Sonia Sanchez is one of the most influencial poets of her time. She also played the role or educator in the movement and wrote various plays. Famous for her relentless efforts towards enrolling in the University of Alabama, Vivian Jones was their first African-American graduate. One of the most sussessful organisations of this era, the Black Panther Party (BBP), was lead by Elaine Brown between 1974-77 where she promoted the need for high standards of education and equal voting rights. Angela Davis was a key supporter of the BBP and leader of the USA Communist Party. One of her key focuses was prisoner rights; a fight close to home having been wrongfully imprisoned in 1970. Kathleen Cleaver, known for her involvement in the BBP was the first woman to be appointed in their Central Committee. Assata Shakur fought against the political repression, racism and violence that dominated the United States. She was heavily involved in the movement to end the war in Vietnam as well as the students rights movment and was a member of the Black Panther Party.


SEPTIMA CLARK 1945 ‘I’m a negro, born black in a white man’s land. I am a teacher. I have spent my whole life teaching citizenship to children who really aren’t citizens. They have fulfilled all the requirements for citizenship; many of their fathers and brothers have died for their country; but this is not enough to qualify them to vote, to recieve a decent education . . . I can no longer aid in their education, because I joined in the movement to help them claim their citizenship.’


ELLA BAKER 1903 - 1986

A legend in the civi rights movement, Ella Baker died in December 1986, after fifty years of political activism. As she said of herself, “you didn’t see me on television, you didn’t see news stories about me.

to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organisation might come. My theory is, strong people don’t




The kind of role that I tried to play was

need strong leaders.”

Ella Jo Baker should be celebrated as an unsung hero of racial and economic justice and her legacy of leadership and movement building honored.

Her influence was reflected in the nickname she acquired: Fundi a Swahili word meaning a person who teaches a craft to the next generation.

DOROTHY HEIGHT 1912 - 2010

We are not a problem people; we are a people with problems. We have historic strengths; we have survived because of family. Known for her four-decade-long presidency of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and called the godmother of the women’s movement, Dorothy

One of the few women

Height has been a huge inspiration to me.

to participate at the highest levels of the

She was a civil rights and women’s rights activist who

civil rights movement

focused primarily on improving the circumstances of

she was on the platform

and opportunities for African American women. In the

when Dr. King delivered

1990s she drew young people into her cause in the war

his “I Have a Dream”

against drugs, illiteracy, and unemployment.



that we learn about as part of our history, but how much do we really know about the woman who wouldn’t give up her seat on the bus?

‘the patron saint of the Montgomery bus boycott’

- Dr. Burks

Mrs. Parks’ courage catapulted her into world history where she is affectionately referenced as the “Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement.” The boycott also brought world prominence to a young Baptist minister, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The era of legalized racial segregation caused Park’s commitment to first class citizenship for people of color. She encouraged people to register to vote, pool their financial resources, advocate for quality formal education and become involved in community development.

ROSA PARKS 1913 - 2005

Rosa Parks is an example of a woman

DAISY BATES 1914 - 1999 Civil rights activist, writer and publisher, Daisy

Then in 1957, she helped

Bates was played a crucial role in the fight against

nine African American

segregation. Her childhood was marked by tragedy.


Her mother was sexually assaulted and murdered by

the first to attend the

three white men and her father left her. Perhaps this

all-white Central High

start in life prompted her strong interest in civil rights.

School in Little Rock,

In 1952 she became the president of Arkansas chapter

who became known as

of the National Association for Advancement of Colored

the Little Rock Nine.

People (NAACP).

Despite the enormous amount





they faced from white


residents of the city, the students were undeterred from their mission to attend the school. As a result of her efforts she is best remembered as a guiding force behind one of the biggest battles for school integration in the nation’s history.

FANNIE LOU HAMER 1917 - 1977


Understanding Fannie Lou Hamer and

There is something I feel when

her role as a cultural carrier becomes

sound runs through my body. I

clearer when we recognise that she

cannot sig without experiencing a

opened many mass meetings by pulling

change in my mood, a change in the

the congregation into a community of

way I feel. In the African American


culture, that is a major function of singing.

Remember me Rmember me

She told the registrar she would

Oh Lord, remember me.

return every thirty days until he

Father, I stretch

passed the test. And she did. She

My hands to thee

wore them out with her living and

No other help I know.

became one of the first African

You remembered my mother,

Americans to regisister to vote in the

remember me

sunflower County voting campaign.

You remembered mother, remember me

Oh Lord, remember me.


In 1964, before the DemocraticParty’s Credentials Committee and millions of television viewers, Fannie Lou Hamer asked, “Is this America?” The question referred to

the overall climate of near hysteria that permeated the very fiber of the United States as African-Americans battles to

achieve justice and equality. “Is this America?” called to mind the constant violence being leveled against African-

Americans, including Hamer herslef. “Is this America?” acknowleledged that a vital segment of American society

was being constantly and continually subjugated. IN that one question, Fannie Lous Hamer, the twentieth child of

a Missippi sharecropper family, brought America face to

facewith itself-its racism, bigotry, intolerance, hattred, and hypocrisy.

i am sick and tired of being sick and tired!


Shirley Chisholm became the first

It is important to recognise Chisholm’s

black congresswoman and for seven

attitude towards her role in the

terms represented New York State in

movement. She said “I want history to

the House. Throughout her political

remember me not just as the first black

career Chisholm fought for education

woman to be elected to Congress, not as

opportunities and social justice. She

the first black woman to have made a bid

hired only women for her staff. She

for the presidency of the United States,

was known for taking positions against

but as a black woman who lived in the

the Vietnam war, for minority and

20th century and dared to be herself.”

women’s issues, and for challenging the Congressional seniority system.

She met Eleanor Roosevelt when

Chisholm became the first African

she was 14, and took to heart Mrs.

American woman to make a bid to be

Roosevelt’s advice: “don’t let anybody

President of the United States when

stand in your way.”

she ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972. A champion of minority education and employment opportunities throughout her tenure in Congress, Chisholm was also a vocal opponent of the draft.

, N I V E L , R I SAID, M going e w e r a how e c a r a e s i a r o t o n h t i w e l p o e p of men?

CYNTHIA TUCKER 1927 - 2005 Tucker fought hard to end racism and make her world a more equal, multicultural society. She first became active in the burgeoning postwar civil rights movement when she worked to register black voters during a 1950 mayoral campaign.

She is perhaps best known for her stance on gangsta rap music. Looking into some of the gangsta rap popular at the time with teenagers of a variety of backgrounds she was shocked to hear lyrics promoting an array of vices, violence, and a culture of disrespect. She started to campaign against the labels that funded these songs as she recognised that “these images of black young kids acting like gangstas go all around the world.� She objected to such lyrics being sold to minors and fought to get them banned.


n u S e h t n i n i s i a R A Lorraine hansberry wrote the famous, A Raisin in the Sun, a play about a struggling black family, which opened on Broadway to great success. Hansberry was the first black playwright and the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. Throughout her life she was heavily involved in civil rights.

BETTY SHABAZZ 1934 - 1997 As the world knows, Dr. Shabazz was the widow of El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X). Born May 28, 1934, in Detroit Michigan, Betty Sanders was the only child of adoptive parents. She completed elementary school and high school in Detroit, and went on to nursing school at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. She was attending a Tuskegee-affiliated nursing school in New York City when she was invited to hear for the first time the brilliant young Malcolm X speak in Harlem. They were married two years later. When she was 22, their first daughter, Attallah, was born. Daughters Qubilah, Ilyasah and Gamilah followed. She was pregnant with twins, Malaak and Malikah, when Malcolm X was martyred on February 21, 1965. She began a new life as a young widow and struggling single parent, determined to carry on her husband’s work and raise their daughters. Less known about Dr. Shabazz is her personal quest for spiritual fulfillment. In a postcard she sent to Alex Haley, co-writer of The Autobiography of Malcolm X while on Hajj, she writes, “...I am indeed happy to be making the new name is Bahiyah.” For Dr. Shabazz, education was always seen as a vehicle for personal change and transformation. Dr. Shabazz joined the faculty of Medgar Evers College in January of 1976 and served as Associate Professor in the Division of Health Services until September 1980, after which she was appointed Director of Institutional Advancement. In March 1984, she assumed the position of Director of Communications and Public Relations. Dr. Betty Shabazz received many awards during her life, but her most prized honor was the keeper of her beloved husband’s legacy, El-Hajj Malik El Shabazz.

JUST DON’T NEVER GIVE UP ON LOVE SONIA SANCHEZ 1934 ‘Her humming became the only sound in the park. Her voice moved across the bench like a mutilated child.

And I cried. For myself. For this woman talkin’ about love. For all the women who have ever stretched their bodies out anticipating civilization and finding ruins.’

5 , 7 , 5

‘There are things sadder

than you and me. Some people do not even


- Haiku

t s u m u Yo y d a e r e b s y a alw e h t e z to sei . t n e m o m VIVIAN JONES 1942 - 2005 In 1963 Vivian Malone Jones became one of two black students to enroll at the University of Alabama after first being barred at the door by the defiant governor. Her entrance to the university came as the civil rights struggle raged across the South. Ms. Jones went on to became the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama in its 134 years of existence, earning a degree in business management with a B-plus average.






leader of the Black Panther Party, aimed to create a base of economic power for the city’s majority black and poor



redistribution of the massive revenues of the city’s port.





decades, Elaine has been committed to and organized significant



focused on radical reform of

effecting progressive change

the criminal justice system

in the United States. In

and related efforts. In this

addition to Black Panther

regard, Elaine has authored



and edited books about the

included editing the Party’s

plight of prisoners and the

news organ, running for public

injustices in the criminal

office in Oakland, 1973 and

justice and prison systems,

1975, and leading the Party,


1974-1977, as its Chairman,

articles and newsletters in

since that time Elaine has

support of prison reform,

actively worked for such social

and lectured widely at

change through to today. Much

colleges and universities on

of her recent work has been

the question.



designed human





convert the population

‘I think the importance

into specimens in a zoo -

of doing activist work

obedient to our keepers,

is precisely because it

but dangerous to each

allows you to give back


and to consider yourself


‘Jails and prisons are

not as a single individual who may have achieved ‘And course,

sometimes, black



have just argued for the

whatever but to be a part of an ongoing historical movement.’

right to be tired.’

‘As a black woman, my ‘We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.’

politics affiliation





up with and flow from participation


‘Racism, in the first place,


is a weapon used by the

liberation, and with the

wealthy to increase the

‘Radical simply means

fight of oppressed people

profits they bring in by

grasping things at the

all over the world against

paying Black workers


American imperialism.’

less for their work.’




d a o r e h t w o n k e W s a h m o to freed talked s n e e b s y alwa . h t a e d y b





Central Committee. In that

Cleaver first came to the

role, she served as the Party’s








because of her relationship

secretary, delivering speeches

with Eldridge Cleaver and

across the country. In 1968,

the Black Panther Party, she

she organized the national

has many accomplishments

campaign to free the Party’s

outside of her relationship

jailed minister of defense,

with Cleaver for which she

Huey Newton. In that same

is well known. She is widely

year she ran unsuccessfully for

viewed as a gifted lawyer

the California state assembly

and educator who speaks out

on the ticket of the Peace and

ardently against racism. She is

Freedom party.

greatly in demand as a lecturer and has published numerous




articles in newspapers and




Cleaver said, “It was thrilling


with Party,

to be able to challenge the Kathleen Neal Cleaver’s impact

circumstances in which blacks

on the Party was immediate. As

were confined; to mobilize

the national communications

and raise consciousness, to

secretary she became the first

change the way people saw

female member of the Party’s



express themselves.”





A B U C EXILE IN ‘My name is Assata (she who struggles)

have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I

Olugbala (for the people) Shakur (the

participated in various struggles: the

thankful one), and I am a 20th century

black liberation movement, the student

escaped slave. Because of government

rights movement, and the movement to

persecution, I was left with no other

end the war in Vietnam. I joined the

choice than to flee from the political


Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black

repression, racism and violence that

Panther Party had become the number

dominate the US government’s policy

one organization targeted by the FBI’s

towards people of color. I am an ex

COINTELPRO program. because the

political prisoner, and I have been living

Black Panther Party demanded the

in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have

total liberation of black people, J. Edgar

been a political activist most of my

Hoover called it the “greatest threat to

life, and although the U.S. government

the internal security of the country” and

has done everything in its power to

vowed to destroy it and its leaders and

criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor




Just don't never give up  

A book about the unsung heroines of the civil rights movement

Just don't never give up  

A book about the unsung heroines of the civil rights movement