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Alabama: Camellia State
JOINED UNION: December 14, 1819
STATE BIRD: Yellowhammer
STATE FLOWER: Camellia
MEANING OF STATE NAME: Name means "tribal town" in Creek Indian language
1992 POPULATION: 4,135,543
RANK FOR POPULATION: 22
LAND AREA: 50,750 square miles
RANK IN SIZE IN UNION: 29
ECONOMY: Pulp and paper, textiles, lumber, food processing, chemicals, steel, poultry, peanuts, agriculture, car tires, fishing
HISTORY: Home to the Creek Indians. Spaniards first explored Alabama in the 1500s and later the French and English settled here. France gave its territory to England after the French and Indian War, but Spain held claim to the region around Mobile Bay until America won it in 1813.
The Creek Indians lost their hold on the land due to General Andrew Jackson and the Indians walked the "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma. Alabama was part of the Confederacy during the Civil War. In 1965, the Civil Rights Movement got its start in Montgomery when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white person.
A Seat Up Front
December 1, 1955
While the fight by blacks for civil rights had been going on for years, it took one middle-aged black woman with tired feet and a strong will to really get the battle going. Rosa Parks was that woman.
A seamstress in Montgomery, Rosa was returning from work one winter day and couldn't find a seat in the back of the bus, where blacks had to sit. As seen here, she took a seat near the middle and, as the bus filled with whites, refused to give up her seat. She was arrested for violating the
city's transportation laws.
Four days later, on December 5th, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. led a bus boycott by Montgomery blacks. For more than a year, blacks walked, rode bicycles, drove or got a ride around the city rather than take the bus. Whites split on the issues. Some helped the blacks by giving them rides; others attacked the blacks.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the black boycotts in 1956, and after that blacks took any seat they wanted on buses. King went on to lead the Civil Rights Movement on other issues in other cities. In marches throughout the South and in Washington, D.C., blacks and sympathetic whites protested for an end to segregation in all areas of American life.
Booker T. And Tuskegee
Born a slave in 1856, and having worked as a janitor to finance his education, Booker T. Washington founded the first industrial training school for blacks with an entirely black faculty. Opened in 1881, the Tuskegee Institute grew to maturity following the turmoil of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Washington was a skilled politician and, by 1900, Tuskegee Institute was the best-supported black educational institution in the country, thanks to Northern donations he solicited. In the early 1900s, more liberal blacks viewed Washington as too accommodating to whites, saying he promoted his institute to whites as a way to keep blacks in the trades. Still, at a time when most blacks didn't have many educational opportunities, Tuskegee Institute offered hope of a way out of the sharecropping system that kept so many blacks so poor.
Washington played a large role in the politics of race relations, advocating acquiescence by blacks to whites in exchange for support in other areas. When the NAACP was founded in 1909, both black and white members opposed Washington as too complacent in the face of lynchings and other violence against blacks.
During his career, Washington wrote his biography "Up From Slavery," founded the National Negro Business League in 1900, was a dinner guest at the White House in 1901, and served as chief black advisor to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. He died in 1915.
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