Gordon Parks: Alabama, 1950’s


This beautiful picture by Gordon Parks is one of a series of 40 that will be on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia. I had posted another image from this series here without attribution, which has now been rectified.

There is very little to say about this era of our history that has not already been said, and better, by other historians and sociologists. Yet this particular image strikes me with the sheer insanity of the entire proposition. Same restaurant, same server, same product, yet a separate window six feet away from the “White” one. None of it makes any sense, and as I take a long view of our nation, I realize that although superficial progress has been made, there is still far too much bigotry alive and well.

Read more about the exhibit at the Daily Mail.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Colored School at Anthoston


Seen at Library of Congress

Colored School at Anthoston.
Census 27, enrollment 12, attendance 7. Teacher expects 19 to be enrolled after work is over. “Tobacco keeps them out and they are short of hands.” Ages of those present: 13 years = 1, 10 years = 2, 8 years = 2, 7 years = 1, 5 years = 1. Location: Henderson County, Kentucky

There appears to be no information regarding photographer or date, but it’s an intriguing photo.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Duke Ellington and band members playing baseball in front of their segregated motel while touring in Florida, 1955


Originally spotted this at /r/historyporn, but the original source is from Shorpy. Some interesting comments from both sites:

Shorpy commenter Evado recognized the church just barely visible in the upper-right of the photo.

redditor 170lbsApe provided a street view of  the lot they were playing on here.

This is an ad for the Astor from the 1956 The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, according to Vonderbees.



William Lafferty posted: “The hotel’s ad in the 1956 Green Book puts it at “US 1 and US 23 North” in Jacksonville. The street address appears to have been 1111 Cleveland.”

I’m now suddenly struck with the thought that many old motel signs I’ve seen that seem to advertise COLOR TV excessively prominently (though no doubt that was a nice amenity when it first appeared) may have been advertising color of a different sort a few years previously and were simply saving money on the cost of sign alterations.

Not sure if this is the case or not – most of these signs seem to be custom-crafted to advertise RCA:


But it’s an interesting thought just the same.

I’ve posted about the phenomenon of segregated facilities several times before. It makes my head throb every time I think about this unhappy period of American history.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Clara Luper

Clara Luper, an Oklahoma history teacher, ordered thirteen Cokes at Katz Drugstore in Oklahoma City on August 19, 1958 for herself and twelve children, ages 6 to 17. Lunch counters in Oklahoma, like much of the South, were segregated. This wasn’t just a request for drinks, but a request for civil rights.

Waitresses ignored them. Other patrons did not: leaving the restaurant, pouring drinks on them, cursing at them.  The group left after a few hours without their drinks. They returned the next day and were served their Cokes, and burgers, too.

“Within that hamburger was the whole essence of democracy.” – Clara Luper

Note: This took place a year and a half before the much more famous sit-in at the Greensboro (NC) Woolworth’s on February 1, 1960. Luper would continue her fight to desegregate public spaces in Oklahoma City. She was arrested 26 times between 1958 and the passage of Oklahoma law to desegregate. (Passed two days after the Civil Rights Act.)


Found at Frog Blog

Colored Entrance, 1956

Within my lifetime. That little girl looks like she’d be about my age; incredible that such things were possible.

Edit: When I first saw this picture, I was not aware of its origin. This beautiful picture by Gordon Parks is one of a series of 40 that will be on display at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning 15 November, 2014.

Read more about the exhibit at the Daily Mail.