In commemoration of Black History Month, this series highlights African-American history in Florida.
The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) formed in 1942 with the purpose of challenging segregation laws in the United States through non-violent protest and civil disobedience.
CORE played a central role in several of the largest peaceful integration campaigns during the Civil Rights Movement, including Freedom Rides from the 1940s to the 1960s, the March on Washington in August 1963, the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, and numerous sit-in demonstrations throughout the United States in the 1960s.
CORE leadership in Tallahassee created this flier in July 1963 (click thumbnails below for larger images). It summarizes the accomplishments of the movement in Tallahassee and the ongoing efforts by activists to defeat segregation in Florida’s capital city.
Reproduced in the flier is a telegram written by local CORE chairperson Patricia Stephens Due to President John F. Kennedy. Due asked the president to stop federal grants from funding St. Augustine’s 400th anniversary celebration.
Due wrote that government support for these events would amount to a “celebration of 400 years of slavery and segregation.” Other prominent civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., raised similar concerns that the celebrations planned for St. Augustine in 1964 would marginalize the African-American role in Florida’s colonial history.
Two months before this flier appeared, over 200 student demonstrators, mostly from Florida A&M University, were arrested for picketing in front of segregated theaters in downtown Tallahassee. The flier also notes the latest campaign against pool segregation, and that Priscilla Stephens, sister of Patricia Stephens Due, had been arrested for attempting to integrate a city pool.
The Stephens sisters organized the first Tallahassee chapter of CORE in 1959. Throughout the early 1960s they played a prominent role as organizers, participants, and spokespeople for the movement.
To learn more see, Tananarive Due and Patricia Stephens Due, Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights (New York: Ballatine, 2003) and Glenda Alice Rabby, The Pain and the Promise: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Tallahassee, Florida (Athens: University of Georgia, 1999).