The emancipation from the ugly Jim Crow laws
After World War II, life in Tennessee began to change dramatically. Technology changed and increased wealth, day-to-day life was very different than before the war.
However, in numerous ways, life for African Americans stayed the same. Blacks were not allowed to fully participate in Public facilities. Parks, theaters or restaurants did not allow blacks inside. Rather, they were made to sit in “special” areas.
Signs which reads “colored” or “for whites only” were put in front of restrooms and water fountains.
To top it all, if black people got on a bus or train, they had to ride in special areas and their children went to segregated, poorly funded schools.
To some people, this way of life which was controlled by Jim Crow laws was more and more unacceptable. They forgot that African American soldiers participated and fought in World War II against fascism and for freedom. Yet, when they came home, they were not fully free.
Lots of African Americans began to try to change the laws which restricted their freedom. Legal battles, sits-in, protests, boycotts, marches, and other civil disobedience acts were carried out to push the federal government enforcing laws outlawing segregation.
These civil disobedience acts were referred to as the Civil Rights Movement and Tennessee was at the forefront of this movement. Fortunately, the first public school to be integrated into the South was in Clinton, TenBut at the end of this era, most public schools were integrated into the state, and segregated facilities and signs had disappeared.
Also, blacks in Haywood and Fayette counties lived in tents in a bid to force county officials to allow them to vote.
In Nashville, students at predominantly black universities led the way in non-violent protest beginning with a sit-in of Nashville lunch counters and moving on to Freedom Rides and voter registration drives in Alabama and Mississippi.
No occasion in Tennessee between 1945 and 1975 was more dramatic than the Civil Rights Movement.
Although, the movement towards integration and equality did not happen quickly, in fact not all protest activities were successful.