In the 1960s, student civil rights activist-turned-Georgia legislator Julian Bond, who passed away Aug. 15 at age 75 in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., cut such a charismatic figure with his slim, handsome looks and dazzling gift for oratory that some envisioned him becoming the first African-American U.S. President.
On Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, the Alabama State Police spared no activists — not even the women — on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. They, too, were knocked to the ground, trampled by horses and struck by batons, just like the men — all for standing for the rights of African Americans to vote.
They called it Freedom Summer - 10 weeks in 1964 when more than 700 student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local activists in a historic effort to end the vestiges of racial oppression across the South, including what PBS described as "one of the nation's most viciously racist, segregated states."
Read about the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which marks its golden jubilee this July, and you'll learn about the high-profile personalities in Congress and the White House who battled during this stretch of our country's faltering march toward fair treatment for all citizens. But you're less likely to hear about key players behind the scenes, even during Black History Month.
W.E.B. Du Bois. Mary McLeod Bethune. Stokely Carmichael. Malcolm X. Martin Luther King Jr. These are names of civil rights leaders you're likely to hear during Black History Month. But here's one you may not: T. Thomas Fortune.
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