(originally shared with subscribers July 13, 2022)

There’s a substantial racist social context around -- before, during, and after -- the activism of the 1961 Freedom Rides. Given the violence of that context, it’s very noteworthy that nonviolent activism was the vehicle intentionally chosen to drive change. Freedom Riders were a pivotal arm of civil rights activism. 

Pictured above: Freedom Rider Richard Haley (Freedom Ride encounter 41)

In the Americas, that racist context starts with the early explorers in their interactions with natives. On North American soil, it starts no later than the slavery that was initiated in the year 1619 when the first slave is reported to have set foot on this soil. It dirges on to legal emancipation in 1863. And it limps its way through Jim Crow, remnants of which actually linger today. 

Jim Crow is a euphemism for racism. Some people of color have had the luxury of not encountering it or being aware of it, but most of us, even those of us perceived to be privileged, have been touched by it in some way, multiple times on various levels, and know that it is very real.

Look at these two numbers:1619 and 2022. Consider the expanse between them.

With race being proven to be a faulty if not falacious human construct, are we proud of human advancement when race is even still even a thing? We're all of the same species. I would think race and racism are things we one day want to be able to refer to only in the past tense. Until then…

Here’s some of our social context. At least points of note along the timeline between 1619 and 2022.  

Pictured above: Freedom Rider Hellen O'Neal McCray (Freedom Ride encounter 41)

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY -- your points of social context:

July 8, 1876: The Hamburg Massacre - locals rioted against African-Americans who were simply trying to celebrate Independence Day.

July, 1884: The first time that patents are given to African-American female investors. Judy W. Reed invented a dough kneader and roller. Sarah E. Goode invented a folding bed that could e converted into a desk.

The official period of the civil rights movement is generally considered to be: 1945-1975.

July, 1961: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLS) began citizenship training classes under the leadership of Andrew J. Young.

July, 1961: 22 of more than 40 nonviolent Freedom Ride encounters took place.

July 2: 1965: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opened.

July 31, 1973: The FBI ended their Ghetto Informant Program.

July 9, 1997: Spike Lee released his documentary 4 Little Girls, covering the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

July 30, 2008: The United States Congress officially apologized for slavery and "Jim Crow".

July, 2013: The Black Lives Matter movement is officially formed, because of ongoing racial profiling and police brutality, chiefly against black men.

Featured and pictured above: Irene K. Morgan

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY -- points of social context:

July 11, 1905: First meeting of the Niagara Movement, an interracial group whose mission was civil rights.

July 11, 1951: White residents of Cicero, Illinois rioted when in Cicero, Illinois when a black family tried to move into an apartment in an all-white suburb of Chicago.

July 11, 1954: The first official meeting of the White Citizens’ Council convened in Mississippi.

July 11, 1955: The Georgia Board of Education ordered the firing of any teacher supporting integration.

July 11, 1960: Now a banned book,To Kill a Mockingbird was published.

July 11 was a busy day in civil rights history.

July 12, 1948: Hubert Humphrey made a speech in favor of American civil rights at the Democratic National Convention. A controversial act for the time.

July 13, 2013: George Zimmerman was acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin, provoking protests across the country.

July 13, 2015: Sandra Bland died in jail. She had been pulled over for a traffic stop in Texas.

July 14, 1955: A Federal Appeals Court overturned bus segregation in Columbia, SC.

NOTE! July 16, 1944: Long before Rosa Parks, Irene K. Morgan (pictured above) rightfully refused to give up her bus seat.

July 17, 2014: Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after being held in a chokehold by a police officer. Fifteen seconds of violence extinguished his life.

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