News / archive

Remembering Discrimination of the Past

African American Remember Discrimination of the Pasti
X
August 25, 2013 11:12 PM
Five decades ago Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for racial equality in the southern United States. The landscape of the region was drastically different as African Americans were denied basic human rights and freedoms because of discriminatory local and state laws designed to keep black and whites separated. VOA’s Chris Simkins gives us a snapshot of what some African American endured in a segregated South.
African American Remember Discrimination of the Past
Chris Simkins
Five decades ago, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. fought for racial equality in the United States. The landscape of the region was drastically different than today, as African Americans, especially in the south, were denied basic human rights and freedoms because of discriminatory local and state laws designed to keep black and whites separated.
 
Jeff Drew's family wasn't welcomed in an all-white neighborhood in Birmingham, Ala. Determined to stay, his father took action to protect his family from hate groups, fortifying the home to resist bullets and the dynamite that was thrown at the house.
 
Drew recalled one of those dynamite attacks.
 
"I was laying on the floor watching the TV and the next moment, me and the TV are at the ceiling,” Drew said. “It had literally blown us both off the floor and I had my first taste of what a dynamite blast felt like."
 
Birmingham was known as the most segregated city in the south. At the Lyric Theatre, white customers entered through the front door while black customers had to go around the corner to a back alley and enter through an entrance marked “Colored only.”
 
"Whites were privileged, blacks were the unprivileged, and we lived with signs and symbols of segregation: whites here, blacks here," said Frankye Adams Johnson, who grew up in Mississippi surrounded by symbols of racial segregation.
 
Many southern communities passed laws to separate blacks and whites in schools, restaurants and other public places. Congressman John Lewis, who grew up in rural Alabama, said he tasted the bitter fruits of racism.
 
"I didn't like it. I saw those signs that said white men, colored men, white women, colored women, white waiting, colored waiting."
 
Hollis Watkins from Mississippi remembers some of the unwritten rules.
 
"If you are walking down the sidewalk and you meet white people, you step off the sidewalk and bow your head until they pass,” he said.  “If you didn't, it could be considered as disrespectful and they might kick you, beat you or put you in jail."
 
In June 1963 Alabama Governor George Wallace blocked two African Americans from enrolling of at the all-white University of Alabama. After federal marshals and the National Guard stepped in, Wallace stepped aside.
 
For his daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, that’s a painful memory.
 
"It stained Alabama, of course, but it stained him for the rest of his life even though he changed, later on in his years, his feelings about racial issues," she said.
 
The symbols of racial segregation in the South started disappearing after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, giving millions of African Americas the same freedom and liberties enjoyed by the country's white population.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs