On this dayJan 04, 1962

City of Montgomery Locks Bathrooms, Plugs Water Fountains at Airport to Avoid Integration Orders

On January 4, 1962, the city of Montgomery, Alabama, announced that it would remove waiting area seats, lock bathrooms, and plug water fountains at the municipal airport rather than comply with integration orders.

City Attorney Calvin Whitesell announced the plans in a televised response to orders from federal judge Frank M. Johnson Jr. that the city remove segregation signs posted throughout the airport and allow Black passengers to use all facilities. Mr. Whitesell added that the restaurant at the airport would remain open “for the time being,” but that he would order it closed if residents make a “concerted effort” to integrate it.

Opposition to civil rights and racial equality was a mass movement, and most white Americans—especially in the South—supported segregation. Even after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which barred racial discrimination in workplaces and public accommodations, most white Americans—including white community leaders, clergy, and educators—fought tirelessly to defend racial hierarchy and white supremacy. Southern officials continued to use their power to hamper civil rights activism and, as was the case here, violate Black Americans’ constitutional rights.

Read EJI’s report, Segregation in America, to learn more about the history and legacy of segregation in the U.S.

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