FIGHTING LEGAL BATTLES:
The Courtroom and Beyond
The legal battle for justice has been fought in Tuskegee and Macon County since the ‘secret’ civil rights activities of Booker T. Washington. In the 20th century, Tuskegee and Macon County became a civil rights battleground in the struggles for equal education, health care, and voting rights.
The 1907 Romanesque Revival Macon County Courthouse, a National Register listed building, has been the scene of significant voting and civil rights battles since the 1940s about matters such as race-based voucher voting registration, gerrymandering, poll taxes and a selective buying campaign.
In Tuskegee and Macon County, early efforts to eliminate voter discrimination and desegregation of the public school system led to landmark changes in state and national law.
SHAPING YOUNG MINDS:
Community Centers of Education
Nearly 5,000 schools were built from 1913 to 1936, in a collaborative effort to improve public education for rural African American children by world renown educator Booker T. Washington, Sears Roebuck president and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, and local communities throughout the segregated South. Initial architectural plans were drawn by Tuskegee Institute professors. The Rosenwald Schools were listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation Endangered Properties in 2002.There are few Rosenwald Schools still standing. The Shiloh Rosenwald School in Notasulga has been restored and currently functions as a museum, open to the general public and available for group visitation.
TUSKEGEE CIVIL RIGHTS:
The Struggle for First Class Citizenship
Tuskegee Institute students, faculty and community were all part of local and national social changes since the 1940s. The Tuskegee community began initiating voting rights legal actions through the Tuskegee Civic Association, an organization spearheaded by a Tuskegee Institute professor. In the 1950s, highly educated African American professionals and rural residents began to come together to fight for their rights to first class citizenship.
In the 1960s, Tuskegee Institute students aided by college faculty and staff, planned and participated in many protest activities, including the Selma to Montgomery March. Exhibits feature SNCC leaders John Lewis and Bob Mants, Freedom Rider Bernard Lafayette, Tuskegee graduates Amelia Boynton Robinson and Gwen Patton, civil rights attorney Fred Gray, and civil rights student martyr Sammy Younge, Jr.