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Black History Reflections: A Setback & A Victory

Updated: Feb 24, 2023


From the many days of struggle and victory that filled the time of the American Civil Rights Movement, January 31 and February 1, 1956 can be see as both a "setback" and a major "victory." The days mark the 58th and 59th days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.


The days are significant due to the fact that Martin Luther King, Jr., a young pastor Dexter Avenue Baptist Church at only age twenty-seven having been married to his wife (Coretta) three years with a ten-week-old baby (Yolanda) had his Montgomery, AL home bombed from dynamite January 31, 1956. The house, still preserved to this day, stands on the fringes of an early thriving black community named Centennial Hill.


Just 92 miles northwest of Montgomery, the nation witnessed something that may be considered a miracle in the South. Tuscaloosa, AL, the very next day after the bombing of the Kings' parsonage, bore testimony in newspapers all across Alabama about a "Birmingham Negro" who was "registered at the University [of Alabama] today as an undergraduate student, thereby breaking a color line that his held through the 124 year life of the institution." How amazing! This amazing, resilient young woman was known as Arthurine J. Lucy. She was the first African American to desegregate the University of Alabama. Prior to enrolling at UA she attended a school in Linden, AL after which she became a student at Selma University. She then earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Miles College, an HBCU located in Fairfield, AL. She sought to enroll at UA to earn a second bachelor's degree and receive the best education available in the state. She achieved her goal!


At the same time, there was major difficulty during these times. As a number of people threatened the lives of the King family in Montgomery, Tuscaloosa itself witnessed four burning crosses on the days of January 31 and February 1 in protest of Lucy's enrollment at the University. In addition, the board of trustees unanimously voted to deny room and board in the girls dormitories on campus to Lucy. After eventually being expelled from the University of Alabama and years of litigation from the NAACP on her behalf, she was readmitted and earned a graduate's degree. This brave woman passed away at age ninety-two on March 2, 2022.


Thus, we can see a setback and a victory! May these not-so-distant events remain in our minds so that we may never regress into the pits of injustice as in former times.

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