July 28 (Pt 1) – Civil Rights and the Magic City

July 28th marks the anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment’s certification, one of the first major civil rights march in the United States and the incorporation the city of Miami.

In Part 2 we cover war – the commissioning of the USS Constellation and President Hoover’s using the cavalry to crush the Bonus Army protests; empire with the US occupation of Haiti and a bomber crash into the Empire State Building; and peace with the disarmament of the IRA in Northern Ireland.


The Fourteenth Amendment is Ratified

The 14th Amendment provides in part:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

It was met with fierce resistance from former Confederate states, leading Congress to make ratification a condition of representation of Congress.  The amendment appeared to have been adopted on July 9, 1868, but two of the ratifying states  – New Jersey and Ohio had rescinded their ratification.  Congress directed that the ratification be certified despite the rescission, which occurred on July 28th (although two additional states ratified in the interim).  Ohio and New Jersey would re-ratify in 2003



The City of Miami is Incorporated

In the late 19th century, Julia Tuttle, a wealthy citrus grower, convinced railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to expand his Florida East Coast Railway to Biscayne Bay Country.  As a result, the city of Miami was incorporated with a population of 300.  It is the only major U.S. city conceived by a woman.  Its rapid growth to become the 8th largest metropolitan in the country earned it the nickname the “Magic City”.   It is also known as (i) the Capital of Latin America with its large Latin population and banking presence and (ii) the “Cruise Capital of the World” since its port is number one cruise passenger port in the world.

It is also the city most at risk due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.


Silent Protest Parade

After white mobs killed 40 African-Americans in riots in East St. Louis and lynchings in Waco and Memphis without any response from law enforcement, the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) and others organized a  “mute but solemn protest against the atrocities and discrimination practiced against the race in various parts of the country.”  As a NAACP memo explained

Two hundred thousand black men fought for your liberty in the Civil War. The first blood for American Independence was shed by a Negro—Crispus Attucks. We have fought for the liberty of white Americans in six wars; our reward is East St. Louis.

The parade, which drew between 8,000-15,000 marchers down Fifth Avenue, was described the next day in the The New York Times:

To the beat of muffled drums 8,000 negro men, women and children marched down Fifth Avenue yesterday in a parade of “silent protest against acts of discrimination and oppression” inflicted upon them in this country, and in other parts of the world. Without a shout or a cheer they made their cause known through many banners which they carried, calling attention to “Jim Crowism,” segregation, disenfranchisement, and the riots of Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis.

The parade was the very first protest of its kind in New York, and the second instance of African Americans publicly demonstrating for civil rights.  The first was in response to D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film The Birth of a Nation (originally called The Clansman).

Marchers hoped to influence President Wilson to carry through on his election promises to African American voters to implement anti-lynching legislation and promote Black causes.  The infamously racist Wilson broke his promise to meet with the protest organizers.   

Google commemorated the march’s 100th anniversary with a Doodle.







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