North of Dixie: US Civil rights photos capture largely forgotten black activism in Selma, Birmingham

civil rights history

BY Reporter for The Daily Mail

When it comes to the civil rights movement, many associate the violence, discrimination and police brutality against black people with what happened in America’s South in the 1960s.

Shocking images of protesters in Alabama’s Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma being attacked by snarling dogs and being sprayed by fire hoses have become landmark moments in civil rights protest history.

But a new series of never-before-seen images, compiled by author and historian Mark Speltz, sheds light on the largely forgotten black activism that was being carried out in other areas like New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles and Seattle.

A mob shouted  obscenities, threatening a young black family as they moved into an all-white development outside Philadelphia just two days after the march on Washington for jobs and freedom in August 1963. The family spent its first night in the cellar and, after two years of relentless attacks, moved out of the neighborhood

The photographs, published in a new book North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South, attempt to shine a light past the most iconic photos of the era to focus on the less-prominent battles that fought discrimination.

The book features 100 photos taken between 1938 and 1975 in more than 25 cities in the Northeast, Midwest and West by photographers including Bob Adelman and Gordon Parks.

Some of the photos taken north of the Mason-Dixon line are being published for the very first time.

Speltz spent a decade unearthing images of activists protesting racial discrimination in jobs, housing, education and police brutality – that he says form the largely forgotten moments of the civil rights campaign.

‘Cast by the media at the time as sporadic and less significant than the heroic, nonviolent protests in the South, the local activism that took place in the North, West, and Midwest is all but absent in the way we characterize, teach and remember the civil rights era,’ Speltz said.

This boy picketed outside a local school in 1962 in New Jersey. He was one of the many children from coast to coast who would play a critical role during the civil rights era to advance the struggle for racial justice

Authorities grabbed hold of a woman's legs in Los Angeles in March 1965 to physically remove her  during a demonstration against the shocking violence in Selma

Activists picketing at a demonstration for housing equality in Los Angeles in 1963 while uniformed American Nazi Party members counterprotest in the background with signs displaying anti-integration slogans and racist epithets

This woman was pictured grabbing hold of another protester as she was forcibly removed from a Los Angeles demonstration against the shocking violence in Selma in March 1965

San Francisco NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) members urge riders to boycott Yellow Cab and help stop hiring discrimination during a "Don't Ride" campaign in 1955

Demonstrators sitting with signs and intentionally blocking traffic during protest on car-lined thoroughfare in Brooklyn, New York

A woman raises her fist during a Martin Luther King Jr. rally as other marchers pass behind her in Chicago, Illinois in 1966.

‘In response, this book seeks to recast the visual narrative of the era by bringing the broad, nationwide struggle for black freedom into sharper view.’

The photos in his book showcase the same level of discrimination as what was occurring in the south but the more shocking imagery is often used to highlight the history of the civil rights movement.

Protesters being attacked by police dogs in Birmingham and others being sprayed with fire hoses in Montgomery are infamous, as well as photos of activists Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King amidst the movement.

Among the photos included in Speltz’s book are scenes of female protesters being physically removed during a demonstration in Los Angeles against the brutality in Selma, Alabama.

Mobs of people were pictured threatening a young black family as they moved into a white-development outside Philadelphia just two days after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The family were forced to move out of the neighborhood after two years of relentless attacks.

Peaceful protests showcasing a young boy picketing outside of New Jersey school in 1962 are also included – he was one of the many children across the country who played a vital role to advance the struggle for racial justice.

North of Dixie: Civil Rights Photography Beyond the South by Mark Speltz was published in November. It is available at Getty Publications.

Members of the St. Louis Branch of the NAACP calling for victory at home and abroad and an end to racial violence in the early 1940s

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