African Americans have contributed tremendously to the culture of the United States. First brought to America hundreds of years ago to work as slaves, blacks won their freedom after the 19th century Civil War. However, many blacks remained very poor and moved throughout the country seeking better economic opportunities. Unfortunately, even after the Civil War, many white people still discriminated against blacks.
Blacks and whites were segregated, and the education and living conditions of black people suffered. However, after several historic, sometimes tragic events, black people decided to no longer tolerate these injustices. Here are some of the most important cities in African-American history.
In 1955, Rosa Parks, a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to obey her bus driver’s order to surrender her seat to a white man. Parks was arrested for disorderly conduct. Martin Luther King Jr. led a boycott of the city bus system, which desegregated in 1956 when segregated buses were deemed unconstitutional. Rosa Parks became one of the most influential and famous female civil rights activists, and the Rosa Parks Library and Museum in Montgomery now displays her story.
In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled that segregated schools were unconstitutional and that schools should soon integrate.
However, in 1957, the governor of Arkansas ordered troops to forcibly prevent nine African American students from entering Little Rock Central High School. President Dwight Eisenhower learned of the harassment the students experienced and sent National Guard troops to aid the students. Several of the “Little Rock Nine” eventually graduated from the high school.
Several important civil rights events occurred in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and wrote his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” King argued that citizens have the moral duty to disobey unjust laws such as segregation and inequality.
In May, law enforcements officers released police dogs and sprayed fire hoses on a crowd of