Tuskegee Honors Civil Rights Struggles

After the dedication ceremony, attendees toured several of the historic trail markers, including the one honoring Julius Rosenwald on the campus of Tuskegee University. Pictured with the attendees is Tuskegee University Archivist Dana Chandler (left of the marker) and Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation President and Fouder Jerry Klinger (right of the marker).

The city of Tuskegee, Tuskegee University and state leaders marked civil rights sites throughout the city and the campus of Tuskegee University last week, erecting 13 markers to honor the contributions of individuals and groups and to highlight sites of notable significance during the Civil Rights era.

“Each of the subjects of our trail markers were chosen for their individual and unique aspects, which provide us and generations to follow the opportunity to learn and cherish the unforgettable role they — and the Tuskegee community — played in the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s,” said Tuskegee University Archivist Dana Chandler, who worked with archives staff and volunteers to identify the subjects and the locations for the markers.

Funded by the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation and supported by partners including the Tuskegee University Libraries, Museums and Archives; Macon County Bicentennial Committee; the Alabama Bicentennial Commission; the National Park Service; the City of Tuskegee and the Macon County Commission, the Tuskegee Civil Rights and Historical Marker Trail joins six other Alabama trail sites to comprise the U.S. Civil Rights Trail.

The new markers join existing markers honoring Butler Chapel AME Zion Church, the Central Alabama Veterans Administration Hospital, the City of Tuskegee and Tuskegee attorney Fred Gray.

The individuals honored by the new markers are: Charles C. Gomillion, a Tuskegee University professor and principal in the pivotal civil rights U.S. Supreme Court gerrymandering case C.G. Gomillion, et. al. v. Phil M. Lightfoot; Jessie Guzman, the first black citizen to seek political office in Alabama since Reconstruction; William P. Mitchell, who sued the Board of Registrars for a certificate of registration and was ultimately successful; Rosa Louise McCauley Parks, a Tuskegee native who challenged Alabama’s segregation laws through passive civil disobedience; Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights pioneer who championed voting rights for African Americans; Julius Rosenwald, Jewish multimillionaire merchant, part-owner of Sears, Roebuck & Co., and Tuskegee University trustee, who collaborated with Booker T. Washington to provide public education for rural Southern blacks and Sammy Younge Jr., who became the first African American university student killed in the U.S. during the Civil Rights Movement.

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Markers also honored Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, home to many important Tuskegee civil rights icons; “Trade with Your Friends,” a boycott of white-owned businesses by the Tuskegee Civic Association and its members; Tuskegee Churches, which hosted important civil rights meetings like those of the Tuskegee Civic Association; the Tuskegee Civic Association, founded with a focus on civic education, voter registration, political education, community welfare and economic education; Tuskegee High School, the subject of the 1963 court case Anthony Lee et. al. v. Macon County Board of Education, which first sought integration of the all-white Macon County school; and Tuskegee Institute Advancement League, a student-based civil rights initiative.

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