Black is Beautiful 2022 – Tougaloo 9
This is for the Tougaloo 9 (Meredith Coleman Anding Jr., James Cleo Bradford, Alfred Lee Cook, Geraldine Edwards, Janice Jackson, Joseph Jackson Jr., Albert Earl Lassiter, Evelyn Pierce, and Ethel Sawyer) a group of undergrad college student activists from the HBCU Tougaloo in Jackson Mississippi. In 1961 they lead the first student lead protest against segregation in MS. Their target was the segregated public libraries in Jackson. They first went to the “Negro” libraries to request books they know would be unavailable, then went to the “White Only” libraries to request them. Although the rules were separate but equal, more than not Black libraries didn’t have the same access to literature or knowledge as the White libraries did even though both people paid taxes funding these public spaces. After this the students decided to protest in their best clothes (Naacp protocol) by going to the White only library. There they asked for books they couldn’t find previously, sat down, and began to read them quietly. The librarians called the police who demanded they leave. When they refused and were arrested. As they sat within the jail system hundreds of local Black students held a vigil in support of them which was violently broken up by MS cops. The next day Black students from Jackson State (HBCU) came to protest as well. The students lost their case against and were fined. But, their actions set off fear in MS and inspired other students. The Naacp filed a lawsuit against the MS library and the judged ruled in favor of desegregating all MS libraries. This also forced the u until that point silent American Library Association to make a statement in favor of desegregation as well, even though they did not have. BLK president until 1976!
Extra: MS was one of the most racist states in the US. It is the state with the most lynchings of BLK folks according to the Equal Justice Initiative. From citizen lead vigilante groups and cops, to the mayor, news media, and the governor; the threat of violence for challenging Jim Crow was very real and very dangerous. In fact Medgar Evers who trained these students was murdered in the same city 2 years after this action. In addition, all citizens pay taxes which fund the books, staff, and creation of libraries. It is unspeakable the humiliation Blk folks had to and continue to endure.
Sources: Black Past, Wikipedia, Mississippi Free Press, EJI
If you like this check out The Contract Buyers League
Want to see some more activists? Check out: