In 1959, police were called to a segregated Lake City Public Library in South Carolina when a 9-year-old Black boy refused to leave. He later got a PhD in Physics from MIT, and died in 1986, one of the astronauts aboard the space shuttle Challenger. The library that refused to lend him books is now named after him.
On January 29, 2011, the Lake City, South Carolina, library was dedicated as the Ronald McNair Life History Center. When Ronald McNair was nine, the police and his mother were called because he wished to check out books from this library, which served only white patrons before he arrived. He said, “I’ll wait,” to the lady and sat on the counter until the police and his mother arrived, and the officer said, “Why don’t you just give him the books?” which the lady behind the counter reluctantly did. He said, “Thank you, Ma’am,” as he got the books.
In 1959, a white man from Texas disguised himself as a black man and traveled for six weeks on greyhound buses. After publishing his experiences with racism he was forced to move to Mexico for several years due to death threats.
When the US military tried segregating the pubs in Bamber Bridge in 1943, the local Englishmen instead decided to hang up “Black soldiers only” signs on all pubs as protest.
In 1958, a white girl kissed two African American boys, aged 9 and 7, on the cheeks. The two boys were arrested, detained for 6 days without access to their parents or legal counsel, and were severely beaten by the police. The boys were detained for a total of 3 months.
Producers of The Jungle Book film originally considered Louis Armstrong for the voice of King Louie, but were worried that choosing a black actor to voice an ape would cause controversy.
One of the first things free blacks could grow, eat, and sell were watermelons. It became a symbol of freedom that was corrupted into a negative stereotype by southern whites and still persists today.
Lionel Richie grew up in racially segregated Alabama and once unwittingly drank from a whites only fountain. White men confronted his father, who grabbed Richie and ran off. Richie asked his father why he didn’t stay and fight. His dad answered, “I had a choice: to be a man or be a father.”
He managed to be both.