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NEW Documentary Series: Trail of Hope

The Trail of Hope documentaries chronicle the efforts to move toward equality for all races during the Civil Rights movement and beyond.

Documentary Producer: Dave McNamara

The Struggle for Equality: At the dawn of the 20th century, America is a racially divided country. The Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War and the eventual passage of the Fourteenth Amendment fueled racism in the form of violent groups like the Ku Klux Klan. The landmark 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson establishes racial segregation as constitutionally acceptable in the United States.  Lynching became widespread and massacres in places like Tulsa, Oklahoma created an atmosphere of fear in the African American community. Returning to the American south from World War II, African Americans were routinely humiliated as they were forced into separate railcars, bathrooms and lunch counters.  The Struggle for Equality took the form of civil disobedience from lunch counters in North Carolina to the bus stations of across the south. Children marched in Alabama and walked into schools across the country.  This is the story of those times and the first-hand accounts of the people who defined the Struggle for Equality.

The Struggle to Vote: The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution declares “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” From its ratification in 1870, it would be almost a century until the Congress passed the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.  The Struggle to Vote goes far beyond legislative language and continues to this day as an emotional political flashpoint.    From mean-spirited literacy tests to punitive poll taxes, barriers to voting became a flashpoint in the Civil Rights effort.  The Mississippi Summer Project became known as Freedom Summer—now best remembered for the brutal kidnapping and murder of three Civil Rights workers.  Less than a year later, brave citizens lined up in Alabama hoping to register to vote in the face of brutal attacks that culminated on a spring Sunday as protesters crossed the Alabama River.  The Struggle to Vote now pulses through state legislatures and courthouses all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and its 2016 ruling in the case of Shelby County vs. Holder.  This is the story of the workers, marchers and voters who continue to define this essential element of democracy.

To learn more about the Civil Rights Trail, click here.