The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Part 5

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Part 5

Tuesday, November 19 at 8:00 p.m.

“Rise! 1940-1968” examines the long road to civil rights, when the deep contradictions in American society finally became unsustainable.

African Americans who fought fascism in World War II came home to face the same old racial violence. But mass media — from print to radio and TV — broadcast that injustice, planting seeds of resistance. The success of black entrepreneurs and entertainers fueled African-American hopes and dreams.

In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, heralding the dawn of a movement of resistance, with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as its public face. Before long, masses of African Americans practiced this nonviolent approach to integrate public schools, lunch counters and more. Nonviolence, however, was often met with violence. In 1968, Dr. King was assassinated, unleashing a new call for “Black Power” across the country.

Pictured above: Norman Rockwell's painting "The Problem We All Live With," 1963. It depicts a young Ruby Bridges historic walk to enroll and integrate the William Frantz Public School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960, a full six years after Brown v. Board of Education.
At right: Ruby Bridges today.