During Black History Month, we celebrate African Americans who made impactful contributions to American history. One of the most important developments of the twentieth century was the civil rights movement. Many Americans, both black and white, fought for equality in access to voting, education, housing, and public spaces for African Americans. Most of the best-known civil rights leaders of this period were male, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Medgar Evers, and John Lewis. However, many women also made significant contributions, including Fannie Lou Hamer, Pauli Murray, and Dorothy Height. Because of their efforts, black Americans, especially in the South, gained new legal rights and freedoms.
Documents in U.S. Declassified Documents Online cover a broad range of topics from Presidential memoranda to confidential National Security Council documents. These nine documents reveal government intelligence related to Martin Luther King Jr’s activity during the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.
The past few years have seen many anniversaries related to African American history and the Civil Rights Movement – 2013, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” stamped the Civil Rights Movement firmly in the minds of Americans and the worldwide community; 2014, the anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction; and, this year is the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided additional safeguards for African Americans to exercise their right to the ballot box.