FLASH: HBCU's where you perfect your game and it can go either way.
GATES: Right, I got you.
FLASH: Yeah, yeah.
TAYLOR: Cut to your right, deal to your left.
Flash it's on you whenever you get ready.
FLASH: You, you can look at my hand.
Did I get anything?
GATES: Mm hmm.
TAYLOR: He's too excited about having nothing.
FLASH: I have been known for my chicanery.
I'm gonna bid three, no trump.
MORAN: Four cards.
BENNIE: I pass.
TAYLOR: If we don't win this, they cheated.
GATES: Right, I got you.
TAYLOR: This is the winner now.
What you got?
FLASH: And she's already out.
TAYLOR: It's the winner.
She's already out.
GATES: Yeah she's... ALL: Oh!
TAYLOR: Where'd that come from?!
Where'd that queen come from?
JASON: I don't think you could talk about Black survival in the United States without talking about Black joy.
♪ ♪ And often that occurs through a kind of world-making, creating these spaces or enclaves where Black people can thrive and where we can enjoy each other's company, that allow us to feel good about ourselves and good in the world, even if the world isn't good.
GATES: Following the overthrow of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow, a rigid system of segregation drew firm boundaries around how African Americans could live, learn, work and play.
Circumscribing what W.E.B.
DuBois called, "a small nation of people".
Black people responded to America's brand of apartheid by nurturing a world behind the veil, a nexus of formal and informal spaces, created for us and by us.
As I played a cutthroat game of bid whist, I talked with some old friends about this hidden world.
I wanted to get their thoughts about what it took for our ancestors to maintain a vibrant community despite the pressures of Jim Crow.
BENNIE: When I was growing up, everybody in my sphere was Black, everybody.
My milkman was Black, our teachers were Black, our postman was Black, our doctors were Black.
And there was just that kind of sense of, everybody in this together for one another.
GATES: By the 1930s, the Great Depression had devastated America's economy and it had brought Black America to its knees.
To survive a period defined by economic cataclysm and global war, the Black community used these spaces behind the color line to launch a movement that would dismantle Jim Crow and forever transform America's race relations.
♪ ♪ MAN: Morning in Manhattan's Harlem, the city within the city where laughter, dancing and singing underlies the teeming, crowded life of its 300,000 inhabitants.
♪ ♪ SMALTZ: People say, Audrey, where are you from?
I said, "Girl, I'm from Harlem."
And this is what I say, "Born, bred, toasted, buttered, jellied, jammed, and honeyed in Harlem."
SHANNON: The Black metropolis is this idea that you have a, a Black city within the larger city.
So, whether it's the Black church or Black businesses, social reform institutions, entertainment, a spectrum of institutions that caters to all the needs of the Black community.
BALDWIN: When we think about Black life in Northern urban centers it was racism in a different form.
It was a more impersonal form of housing segregation, second-class citizenship, labor inequality.
SHANNON: White New Yorkers fought to defend and control Harlem, as an all-white neighborhood.
And so, they used various strategies from taking folks to court to racial covenants and all these other things.
And so, what that did was, it created all kinds of congestion.
But it also created a Black population that could not move anywhere.
And so, you could also charge them all kinds of outrageous and exorbitant rents.
And eventually the language would move from a Harlem Mecca to a ghetto.
GILL: When we're looking at the early 20th century, most African Americans were working class.
They were not paid very well at all.
They were barely able to sustain themselves and their families, based on the money that they earned.
JASON: And so, every month when the rent would come due, you had to find a way to pay the rent.
And so, Black people, we've been very, very good at coming up with creative solutions.
And one of the solutions we came up with was to do these rent parties.
SHANNON: That was also the place where you could find individuals who could, you know, help you find a job.
They might tell you where to go to church.
There was a sense of community.
GATES: If you're teaching a history of Black entrepreneurship, the rent party has such a special place.
People get paid on Friday.
Friday the eagle flies, right?
So, you got to get 'em before they spend the money.
So, you have it on Saturday, right?
And you send out these little invitations with a little rhyme on it.
You're gonna have a pianist, gonna have pig feet, and then we're gonna have Fats Waller on the...on the piano.
It brought everything together.
TAYLOR: There was a psychological piece here.
There was a piece of release.
GATES: Mm hmm.
TAYLOR: We're fighting every day to survive economically.
We're being paid less and charging higher rent.
And so, I've got to find someplace where I can pause for a few hours, meet some people, socialize, sweat a little bit, and leave all that at the door.
GATES: 'Cause you're being kicked in the behind five days a week.
TAYLOR: No question.
At least five.
Jason, uh, tell us about the, the role of the pianist?
MORAN: You know, the, the pianist is like the DJ, you know, they're the gatherer.
They're the ones who know all the songs.
They're the ones who, like, are monitoring the room, making sure everybody's having a good time.
You know, the rent party's also to get somebody through the month, you know?
MORAN: So, somehow the piano was a collector, in that way.
But when the groove is really right, then you got to get out of your seat.
This is the battle song all piano players had to learn when they battled each other on this song.
So when I'm playing, I'm playing it for you, but I'm also playing it for them up there.
♪ ♪ GATES: What inspired James P. Johnson to create "Carolina Shout"?
MORAN: James P. Johnson, his big innovation was how the left hand moved, you know.
So, his left hand wasn't just bonk-dink, bonk-dink, bonk-dink, and steady like that.
He would double up the bass and all of a sudden, you feel like it's, you know, like you're on the train.
Like, you know, like, like, the way the subway feels, you know, when it's rickety.
It's what's called stride piano.
And I think syncopation is maybe one of the great innovations of Black folks because it's the one that can't wait on the downbeat.
I got to get there early.
So, all of a sudden, you get all of this music that just seems to tumble over and over and over in the rhythm.
That's because it's time to move, ya know?
He plays that relationship between uptown and the South.
So much so that when people are hearing him play, they say "take us home", ya know.
MORAN: Because people are saying to themselves, you know, that he, he's getting close to something.
And when he gets hot, you know, take us home.
GATES: I'm sure the ancestors said, all right, the boy did all right.
So my theory is, these musicians were playing for Black people in the funkiest, sweatiest, uh, venues, where no white people were around.
They were playing for themselves and inventing an art and perfecting an art and revising an art with no white people over their shoulder.
MORAN: The power of what those musicians did in those very humble apartments was they gave people an idea about what the future could feel like.
We might not necessarily see it, but we will feel it, you know?
And so how do we keep that feeling with us when we leave the room?
THEOHARIS: So, the Great Depression impacts the Black community in devastating ways, right?
So, we see massive unemployment for Black people.
People are going hungry, people are losing, sort of, access to shelter.
So, it's a devastating period.
GILL: What we think of as the informal economy, businesses that functioned outside of kind of mainstream capitalism were ways for people to survive, ways for people, particularly in the working class, to make a little extra money on the side.
DAVIS: I think about my mom, born in 1928 and coming of age in the '40s.
What was available to her?
She had a high school degree, and that was considered, you know, a good education.
And yet, she was not part of the Black bourgeoisie.
My mother is looking at very terrible prospects, doing day work in white women's homes, working at the factories, jobs that were really low pay, really grueling, dangerous jobs.
So, for years, my mother was a bookie.
Like, her job was to be a numbers runner.
DAVIS: So, the numbers was the name given to this informal lottery that proliferated in all the major cities in the country.
And it was a game, an informal way of betting on daily three-digit numbers.
Those who played could win at a rate of 500 to 1.
GARRETT-SCOTT: The game was also known as policy.
And it was backed by people known as policy bankers.
And millions of dollars every week flowed through their hands.
And Black businesses were really the places where you would go to play your numbers, restaurants, shoeshine parlors, newsstands, barber shops, apartment buildings.
It was a way to take African American people's minds off of the kind of dismal, you know, situations and the dismal environments in which they found themselves.
GATES: In the depths of the Depression, these small bets on a different future prodigiously lined the pockets of numbers kings and queens.
GARRETT-SCOTT: The policy kings and queens were the celebrities of Black communities.
So, these were people who lived in beautiful homes, had beautiful cars and they wore furs.
But it also entails illegal businesses, such as prostitution and gambling.
This is where you get, you know, the, the Black underworld, uh, the creation of, of gangsters who are not afraid to use violence to protect their territories.
DAVIS: When I was growing up, my mom always said, this is a legitimate business that just happens to be illegal.
It was highly risky and therefore highly stressful.
And she carried that stress for decades, in order to simply give us a solid middle-class life.
BALDWIN: Now it's important to understand that there were those in the moral world, from church pastors to those of, uh, Black reformers and professional leaders, who saw policy as a sin or saw policy as exploitation of working-class African Americans.
DAVIS: Respectability politics have always been strong in the Black community, and you could see it very clearly in the world of the numbers.
You had people who were more upper-middle-class Blacks who thought, well, you know, that doesn't represent us well at all, and we're not going to associate with the whole numbers operation.
But Black life is complicated.
There were Black folks who knew where the money was coming from, not least of which would be a lot of pastors who led churches, who knew, they knew where some of that money, was coming from, in the collection plate.
MAN: The Lord has got the all-seeing eye.
He sees everything and he knows everything.
WHITAKER: Places like New York, the numbers runners were looked down upon, to some degree, by the Black elite.
But in Pittsburgh, they were pillars of the community.
Gus Greenlee, who was the leading numbers runner in Pittsburgh, owned the Crawford Grill, which was a top nightclub in the Hill District.
In the 1930s, during the Depression, the numbers runners were also the bankers.
Black banks in the Hill District closed down during the Depression.
So, if you wanted to borrow money, you went to Gus Greenlee.
If you got laid off, Gus Greenlee might give you a job running numbers or someplace else, you know, in his organization or maybe working in his nightclub.
It was Gus Greenlee who, who at election time, would tell folks who to vote for.
So, he had a lot of power.
He bought the Pittsburgh Crawfords, when they were just a sandlot baseball team.
And he turned them into one of the dominant franchises of the Negro Leagues in the 1930s.
And then he built them a ballpark.
A Black ballpark, built by a Black businessman.
In the 1930s, times were tough for everybody in America.
One of the few things they had to look forward to was, uh, sports events.
And baseball was still, you know, the national pastime.
Everybody followed the Negro Leagues.
MAN: It's a game where the Negro athlete of today and yesteryear has left a bright mark.
It's a sport that appeals to all ages, to all groups.
The sound of a ball meeting a bat is a familiar ring to millions of people around the world.
WHITAKER: In the early 1930s, Gus Greenlee and some others in Pittsburgh had the idea that they should have their own version of an all-star game.
They arranged to rent out Comiskey Park in Chicago and they, uh, identified a team of the best players from the two Negro Leagues at the time.
And they had what they called the East-West Classic.
BALDWIN: There were, African American revelers as far away as Los Angeles and Pittsburgh who chartered their own car to go to the Negro League All Star Game in Chicago.
And so it was, it was this whole moment of Black revelry.
It was called a spectacle of 48 hours.
The white leagues saw all the money that was being made with the All Star game in the Negro Leagues and they saw the draw that superior Black players brought to the game and that was a key fulcrum, a key rationale, for why the white leagues began to integrate in the 1940s.
Once people could go see Black folks play in the, in the pro leagues, they stopped going to Negro League.
And the Negro Leagues, which had always been a very, very tough business proposition to begin with, just went into terminal decline.
And then eventually, you know, the Negro Leagues die.
GATES: For many in the Black community, the sandlots and grassy fields of the Negro Leagues offered a much needed escape from their back-breaking work in the cotton fields of the South.
KELLEY: These are the poorest areas in the country.
Black people, for the most part, were sharecroppers and that meant that they were landless.
They had to pay for the use of the that land with their crops.
And invariably, no matter how much they grew, sharecroppers were always in debt.
And so debt peonage became a way of life.
Disenfranchisement became a way of life.
Poverty became a way of life.
GATES: And soon, the Black Belt's most marginalized and oppressed citizens would be drawn to radical ideas about the economic basis of racism, some homegrown, some from as far away as the Soviet Union.
FARMER: It was around this time that the Communist Party talked about what it would be like to really incorporate the Black condition into their larger understanding of, you know, global imperialism and class struggle.
That they were kind of a nation within a nation, largely concentrated in what they called the Black Belt, that they were set apart by their shared conditions of exploitation, heritage, economic conditions, and therefore they had the right to self-determination and the right to secede from the United States.
KELLEY: The Communist Party saw, in the Black Belt, the potential for radical movement.
You begin to see in 1931 the Share Croppers Union formed by the Community Party.
People like Ralph Gray and Tommy Gray, uh, two brothers who actually own plots of land wrote letters to the Communist newspaper, the Southern Worker, saying, we need help.
We need a, a union.
We need an organization.
ARNESEN: To be a Communist in the American South was to undertake kind of a dangerous mission.
It's like raising, literally, the red flag.
Uh, and this brought down upon communists, Black and white, uh, the full force of local police and planters and industrialists, uh, who didn't exactly appreciate their presence or their activities.
GATES: At the same time, a miscarriage of justice in Scottsboro, Alabama, was energizing a growing community of Black and white activists, nationally.
FARMER: So, the Scottsboro Boys were nine African American boys who were riding a train.
It got stopped, everybody got pulled off.
And there were two white women also on the train.
It was claimed that these boys had raped these two white women, and as a result they were imprisoned.
And several of them were sentenced to death.
KELLEY: Black men were accused of rape all the time.
And in many cases, they were lynched.
The Communist Party had its own legal arm called the International Labor Defense.
And they not only publicized the case of these nine young men but provided legal assistance.
It became an international issue.
And it became a mobilizing issue.
THEOHARIS: And a local movement will grow in Alabama to try to protect and defend these nine young men from being executed.
And one of those local activists who's working on this is Rosa McCauley, who will become Rosa Parks.
And this is tremendously dangerous work.
She will describe late-night meetings at their house, guns all over the table.
Even to have a meeting is dangerous.
GATES: On July 15th, 1931, a group or 80 Black men and women, including Ralph Gray, met at a church to discuss the Share Croppers Union and the Scottsboro case.
Tipped off by an informant, the local sheriff deputized white vigilantes who raided the meeting and viciously beat the attendees.
The next night, despite the violence, nearly twice as many sharecroppers gathered, until all hell broke loose.
KELLEY: The police had a shootout with members of the Share Croppers Union.
Ralph Gray was killed.
And not only killed but they symbolically dragged his body in front of the courthouse and essentially riddled his body with bullets as a message to other sharecroppers.
And yet the movement continued to build.
MAN: He lies still and silent.
But under his unmoving form rise hosts of dark, strong men.
The vast army of rebellion.
DAVIS: Resistance was a necessity.
It was not a choice.
This is what we did, in order that we might be able to assert our own dignity.
GATES: During some of the darkest days in race relations in our nation's history, Black Americans once again rose to meet the challenge, inventing new tactics and new organizations to fight racial segregation and ensure for once and for all, lasting social change.
BALDWIN: In this period, you have what's being called the proletarianization of Black life, this idea that there must be an analysis of Black life that combines a racial critique with a class critique.
And so, in this moment one of the greatest mass boycott movements the Don't Buy Where You Can't Work campaign.
This was instigated and started in Chicago, where African American activists and consumers and residents said, basically, don't spend your money where you can't work.
MILLS: Economic boycotts have immense power in shaping African American grassroots activism.
And so, they pressed, uh, white-owned stores to hire Black people, because Black people were shopping in those stores.
LEWIS: There was a way for African Americans to lay claim to America.
There was a way to say we count because we have money.
And with that money, we buy things.
But we could also choose not to buy.
And that if they actually organized that purchasing power, it could actually hurt the pocketbooks of the white majority.
That scared people.
MAN: For the first time in the history of America, Black men marched in front of stores in the Black neighborhood with picket signs on their backs saying, don't buy where you can't work.
This sign would become the rallying cry of the new Black.
The new Black had not only arrived, he had his war cry, and the picket sign was his ammunition.
THEOHARIS: Sometimes they're successful.
But there's also a kind of token solutions.
We're gonna hire one person.
We're gonna hire two people.
And one of the things you're gonna see, a kind of growing frustration, is that kind of token change as opposed to systemic change.
RANDOLPH: Jim Crow was designed to break the spirit of the Negro and make him feel that he was inferior.
They said that Negros could not be trusted, a Black man is not the equal of a white man.
Consequently, he should do more work and get less pay than the white man.
That's the theory which has affected and regulated the life of the Negro worker in this country from the days of slavery up to the present time.
GATES: Asa Philip Randolph, the son of an AME pastor, founded both the nations first Black socialist magazine and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.
Their motto: Fight or be slaves.
As America was mobilizing to become the arsenal of democracy at the start of World War II, the Brotherhood's members effectively leveraged their networks to press for even more challenges to governmental segregation.
TROTTER: The Brotherhood represented part of a long tradition of Blacks organizing independently, as labor organizations.
Black workers were never anti-union.
Even when they were locked out of unions, for the most part, they were building independent Black labor unions.
KELLEY: Sleeping car porters were often considered the most worldly, the most traveled, the most intellectual elements of the Black working class.
It's one of the organizations that really represented a national network of labor organizers, precisely because sleeping car porters and the maids were so mobile and always found a way to return home and make those political connections.
RANDOLPH: The Brotherhood came along and built a union under Negro control.
Negros furnished the money.
Negros furnished the brains.
Negros furnished the will.
Negros furnished the guts, to build the Brotherhood.
It was a revolution.
ARNESEN: Randolph uses this phrase, "the unfinished task of emancipation."
Slaves were freed, but African Americans had not become truly equal citizens in the United States.
And the task before the Black community and for the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and for Black workers generally would be to complete the task of emancipation.
Randolph was part of a general shift toward a more aggressive kind of civil rights activism.
This was about mobilizing numbers.
It was about demanding rights, not asking for them.
By 1940, Randolph and the head of the NAACP and the National Urban League are regularly lobbying the federal government to ensure that jobs in the defense sector are open to Black workers.
RANDOLPH: I recognized that, uh, something had to be done about it.
One thing that would be effective would be a march of 100,000 Negros on Washington for jobs.
SPENCER: The March on Washington movement was a movement that envisioned itself as a nationwide network of people.
TROTTER: And so, the Brotherhood managed to build a coalition of African American organizations, of churches, fraternal orders, social clubs, businesses to make the March on Washington a reality.
And one of the things that it insisted on is that this movement was a movement of African Americans.
ARNESEN: A march on Washington threatened to embarrass the Roosevelt administration.
Randolph and other civil rights leaders are brought to the White House and meet with Roosevelt, who attempts to personally persuade them to call off the march.
RANDOLPH: Uh, the president said, uh, "Philip Randolph, we can't have 100,000 Negros marching on Washington.
If anything such as that were to occur, we might have bloodshed and death."
Well I said, "Well, Mr. President, we want to abolish discrimination against Negros in the government, where there are many jobs."
And he said, "You are indicating that the government discriminates against Negros?"
I said, "It's one of the worst offenders."
I said, "Jobs must be secured for Black people in this country and they must be secured now, not tomorrow, not the next day, but now."
ARNESEN: In the end, in this contest, Roosevelt blinks first.
SPENCER: There was an executive order that was passed during the war, which addressed some of the concerns of the March on Washington movement.
It created Fair Employment Practices Committee.
TROTTER: You literally see after the incorporation of the FEPC, Black workers started to move into some of the more skilled and professional jobs.
RANDOLPH: It demonstrated the ability of the Black masses to win a victory themselves, and it gave them a new spirit, new hope, new determination, and a belief in themselves.
GATES: It certainly was not all work and no play.
But vacations without aggravation were always a roll of the dice in the segregated South, and the consequences of making a mistake could be deadly.
Enter, Victor Green and his Green Book.
TAYLOR: The Green Book was an incredible lesson that taught us what it meant to not just be able to go where you wanted to go, but to be safe and to find sanctuary.
And again, that symbolized freedom in a way that was so unheard of, living in segregated Jim Crow America.
CONNOLLY: And because the world beyond their home is gonna be one in which violence and, you know, certain kinds of indignities are, are very much close at hand, you want to provide these vacationers and these Black motorists with a, a roadmap, with a guide.
TAYLOR: When the Green Book came into publication, there were about 70,000 Black-owned businesses throughout America.
It had everything from liquor stores, nightclubs, funeral homes, doctors, haberdashers, milliners.
Anything you could think of that you might need on the road.
♪ ♪ CONNOLLY: You see the richness of Black consumer culture in the jaws of Jim Crow.
You see, you know, all kinds of advertisements for Black institutions, you know.
You see Black beaches.
MAN: This is the summer Mecca for tidewater residents along the Atlantic.
It is the only exclusively Negro seashore playground on the Eastern Seaboard, and visitors come from miles around.
GATES: These beaches had names like Black Eden, Black Pearl, and perhaps most famously, the Inkwell on Martha's vineyard.
Its name is a clever pun on the skin color of its beachgoers and its rich literary history, starting with the Harlem Renaissance.
The sandy beaches of Oak Bluffs have long been a haven for the Black professional class, Politicians and celebrities such as Jackie Robinson and even Martin Luther King Jr. congregated for leisure, to get to know each other, and to hatch plans for political change.
How would each of you describe Martha's Vineyard to people who have never been there?
I mean, is it only a playground for the Black elite?
GATES: What is it?
What's so special about it?
TAYLOR: Well, well, the, the history, uh, is special, in that the community was started by the service class.
The maids, the cooks, the chauffeurs.
They were the people, African Americans, who originally bought land.
GATES: They were there working for rich white people?
TAYLOR: That's correct.
What was different about the Vineyard, in this sense, is there were no structured racism about buying property.
So, people could buy land as early as the late 1800s.
Now, when you get the land, you, institutions start.
So, for example, the Cottagers, 100 African American women, major organization on the Vineyard.
Apart from social criteria, you must own property.
GATES: Well, your family's been vacationing there for 40 years.
How did you come to the Vineyard?
TAYLOR: Well, um, we were fortunate to have friends.
And it was just, um, exhilarating.
You could go anywhere you wanted to go.
At that time, doors were open, nobody ever locked their doors.
Martha's Vineyard is paradise on earth.
For everybody and particularly the African American community.
FLASH: I don't want to minimize the in-crowd aspect of the Vineyard (laughing).
But I believe back in the '50s, Adam Clayton Powell, who was a, one of the best-known African Americans at the time... GATES: Right.
FLASH: And he used to go hang out on the Vineyard.
And it became the place to be.
To be sure the full stratum of African American demographics are on the Vineyard.
You've got people who live all over the island who are as wealthy as anybody else is there.
And then you have people whose families have their houses.
I believe there's at least 600, maybe 700 cottages or homes owned by African Americans.
That's all over the island.
And it's gonna be very hard to, to displace that over time.
♪ ♪ SPENCER: Well, the post- World War II period was, was just pivotal.
First of all, you have the experiences of the soldiers who participated in World War II and their expectations when they returned home.
They came home refusing to accept the space that Jim Crow America had ascribed them.
LEWIS: We don't want to return back to a nation where we are treated daily as second-class citizens.
They were willing to put their lives on the line to make sure enough was enough.
GATES: Despite the racial discrimination that kept far too many from reaping the full benefits of the GI bill, Black veterans would flood the campuses of HBCUs in the 40s and the 50s.
LOMAX: HBCUs really began to play a very different role in addressing Jim Crow and segregation in the South after World War II.
These were the young people who were shaped by the terror that was being visited upon Black people, in postwar, Southern communities.
FAVORS: Black colleges, they were thought to be benign.
They thought that they were producing a docile, uh, uh, cadre of young African Americans who would be compliant with Jim Crow, who would be compliant with white supremacy.
And nothing could be further from the truth.
You see Black colleges and Black students, uh, beginning to embrace a sense of militancy that their time is now.
That we can no longer continue to abide by this system of Jim Crow, which is denying us our citizenship.
GLAUDE: HBCUs were the primary spaces for the education of the Black community, right?
But they are also places, uh, where, uh, the very strategies to challenge white supremacy are developed.
There's a reason why the challenge to Brown v. Board of Education happened at Howard and not at Harvard.
There's a reason why Dr. King was produced at Morehouse.
These are important sites for a certain imagining of freedom.
FAVORS: You have Charles Hamilton Houston, who is the dean of the Howard University Law School.
For years, he has been, uh, uh, dedicating that space of the Howard University Law School in producing an army of young Black folks who will take on these civil rights cases, who will take on these integrationist cases.
FARMER: We see this, you know, proliferation of young or younger Black lawyers coming out of Howard University Law School that then became part of the NAACP Defense Fund that really thought about the strategy that would be needed to get a case like Brown all the way through the Supreme Court.
Brown v. Board was a landmark civil rights case.
And it is actually a collection of cases, but it's named after Linda Brown, whose father, Oliver, filed a suit because she was barred from attending a white school in Topeka, Kansas.
BENNIE: So, on May 17, 1954, just turned eight a few days before that.
And, uh, my dad came home, and he had a big bottle of champagne.
And he said, the reason I want to toast you is because today, uh, and it still makes me emotional.
TAYLOR: Of course.
GATES: Of course.
BENNIE: Um, and he said, now, as of today, you can be anything in this world you decide you want to be, as long as you put in the effort and you give it, give it your all.
It was, it was, you know, it was so very moving... SULLIVAN: Wow.
GATES: That's a beautiful story.
FARMER: In the end, it kind of overturned our previous Supreme Court case, Plessy v. Ferguson, which ruled separate but equal was okay, right.
Um, it said that separate is inherently unequal.
And many people kind of see it as the domino that started to kind of make desegregation laws fall, laws that have been unfair and in practice for nearly sometimes 100-plus years.
GATES: Why do you think all-Black organizations have continued even after integration following Brown v. Board?
TAYLOR: There is an assumption that white institutions would vigorously accept integration.
TAYLOR: And that could not be further from the truth.
♪ ♪ LEWIS: There is probably no barber shop or beauty salon in Black America after the 1950s that didn't have an Ebony, a Jet, or uh, some other product coming from Johnson Publishing on its, uh, shelves.
Particularly after World War II, it sold an image to Black America of a possibility for prosperity.
GATES: In 1945, John Johnson created Ebony Magazine.
Modeled after Life Magazine, Ebony was a glossy monthly recording the dreams and aspirations and the struggles and concerns of African Americans.
Ebony, and its sister weekly, Jet, became the journalistic embodiment of the grapevine, recording key events in Black history, while making Black history.
JOHNSON RICE: My father was always interested in journalism and being able to elevate and inform and enlighten the African American community.
The name Ebony actually came from and was suggested by my mother, Eunice Johnson.
And she picked the name because it was a very strong, solid wood from Africa.
From our origins.
And it means Black.
WILLIS: I grew up with Ebony and Jet and, uh, Tan and Bronze, and all of the magazines that were part of the Black color wheel.
And John Johnson understood the importance of celebrating Blackness, not only in the naming of the magazine but also what was on the cover of the magazine.
GILL: So, Ebony magazine came to our house every month.
And it was something that we would all fight over.
As a young kid growing up in Brooklyn, New York, it was a way for me to understand a world outside of my own, but more importantly, a way for me to understand that as a Black girl, that I had a place in the world.
JOHNSON RICE: The images told the story of us as a people.
It opened up a new world for Black people to be able to see themselves and to see our accomplishments.
The images that you're seeing are for us, and they're by us, and they're about us.
GLAUDE: The mainstream newspapers are not gonna cover what's happening in our communities.
Or if they did, it would be skewed in light of a host of racist assumptions about who we are and what we're capable of, right?
Um, and so, who's gonna tell our story?
Who else was gonna publish Emmett Till's casket, open casket?
You weren't gonna expect that out of Life magazine.
That had to happen in Jet.
GATES: The ghastly murder of Emmett Till, a Chicago teen visiting relatives in Mississippi, horrified all decent Americans, especially the Black community.
RICHARDSON: Mamie Till Mobley made an incredible decision to open the casket and show what the world did to her baby, in her words.
And Emmett Till's photographs ran in Jet magazine and was the only publication that she trusted to do that.
JOHNSON RICE: I remember my father telling me how afraid he was to run those photographs, because the photos were grim.
But he said, I cannot let that fear stop me from doing the right thing.
And the right thing is to show the world how horrible and how mistreated this African American boy was and how unjust it was.
Those photographs in Jet were kind of the...the linchpin and the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.
GATES: Horrified by the murder of an innocent teenager, Black activists in Montgomery, Alabama, had reached their breaking point.
THEOHARIS: December 1st, 1955, Rosa Parks is coming home from work, and the bus fills up and one white man is left standing.
And by the terms of Alabama segregation the four Black people in the row that Rosa Parks is sitting in are gonna have to get up so that one white person can sit down.
But she refuses.
PARKS: The time had just come when I had been pushed as far as I could stand to be pushed, I suppose.
I had decided that I would have to know once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen, even in Montgomery, Alabama.
THEOHARIS: Part of the reason that Rosa Parks', her courageous stand on the bus turns into a boycott, turns into this mass movement, is a whole set of networks that have been built over that past many years and will continue to get built over that year of the bus boycott.
We have the Women's Political Council, which is a group of middle-class Black women who by 1953 are really organizing around issues of bus segregation.
FARMER: The Montgomery Bus Boycott is a perfect example of how Black women stay ready so we don't have to get ready.
So once Rosa Parks was arrested, she could be somebody that they could rally around, because, you know, she was a tactical strategist and activist.
She knew what happens when you get arrested.
She understood how this would wind its way through the courts.
THEOHARIS: We are a year after Brown.
And so, this is a different legal climate and a potential for a case against the bus company.
And it is in the middle of the night that very night that the Women's Political Council decides to call a boycott for that Monday, December 5th, when Rosa Parks will be arraigned in court.
Are people actually gonna stay off the buses?
And they do.
PARKS: I feel they kept on walking because I was not the only person who had been mistreated and humiliated.
And they all felt that the time had come that they should decide that we would have to stop supporting the bus company until we were given better service.
FARMER: I can't stress this enough.
Boycotting for a year of anything is extraordinarily difficult.
Boycotting when your job depends on it and you live in the kind of geography of segregation.
So, your job is on one side of town and your home is on the other side of town, and the only way to get there is the bus or walk, is another thing.
So, they needed, you know, cars with pickups so that people could walk.
They needed kind of group walking together so that people were less susceptible to racist violence.
They needed just meetings for morale.
Imagine keeping the morale up for that long.
And that was largely Black women at the local level, um, that did that.
LEWIS: Jim Crow didn't end on its own.
It required people to take control and to say, enough is enough.
The time is now.
Uh, and there is no turning back.
I mean, that grew out of, uh, people who had lived behind the veil.
They understood to the depths of their beings what it meant.
I'm doing this, not because I may realize it, but because I'm actually putting a down payment on the future of a successive generation.
And that's important.
MAN: Freedom Now Movement, hear me!
We are requesting all citizens to move into Washington.
To go by plane, by car, bus, any way that you can get there.
Walk, if necessary.
We are pushing for jobs, housing, desegregated schools.
This is an urgent request.
Go to Washington.
GATES: In August 1963, a full century after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, A. Philip Randolph's long dormant March on Washington finally materialized.
The brilliant leadership of activist Bayard Rustin helped bring over a quarter million people to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
THEOHARIS: And it is a Black crowd that has come from struggles all across the country.
If you look at the signs they're carrying, it is struggles around school segregation, it's struggles around housing segregation.
It's the struggles around jobs.
MILLS: The March on Washington was a way to sort of galvanize thousands of people, um, to stand in front of, uh, the Lincoln Memorial and to say that freedom is nothing without economic security.
And so, Martin Luther King's famed address, uh, I Have A Dream, um, begins with that bounced check, that promise that, uh, America would provide an opportunity for everyone to feel free and secure in American citizenship.
And that is what is bankrupt about American democracy, that African Americans do not have that sense of security.
The March on Washington was one way in which Black folk and many other folk gathered to say, enough is enough.
GATES: Standing on the shoulders of generations of activists who had battled slavery and Jim Crow segregation for over 200 years, Black America, at last, was on the cusp of achieving the goals of the Civil Rights Movement.
While a key aspect of the struggle was reaching its pivotal climax, a new political revolution was about to be born.
RANDOLPH: I have the pleasure to present to you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (cheering).
GILL: When we think about integration we think about the gains that were made, but at what cost to Black life?
NARRATOR: Next time on "Making Black America".
FARMER: There are still real everyday struggles of housing, of healthcare, of employment... NARRATOR: Integration's impact...
CROWD: George Floyd!
NARRATOR: On Black institutions... WHITAKER: We don't want a, just, an imitation of white society.
NARRATOR: And culture.
FIELDS: Sometimes you just want to celebrate how dope it is to be black.
NARRATOR: Next time on "Making Black America".
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