One hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into effect, America found itself at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, fighting the legal, social, and cultural ramifications of slavery and racial discrimination. Though this executive order declared an end to slavery, African American lives were “still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963).1 Gradually, with the leadership of courageous and unwavering individuals coming together for numerous demonstrations, prayers, and legal battles, true change began to take place at the state and local levels.
In this audio recording, Lincoln Ragsdale describes the peaceful protests, or “angry demands and patient examples,” made at businesses such as El Rey Cafe and Woolworth, which led to real change for African Americans in Arizona. He also shares excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech and inspires others to take action by joining the NAACP and continuing to fight for equality. He notes that they have seen more positive change for African Americans in Phoenix in the last twelve months than they had in the past twelve years and urges listeners not to give up hope.
These recordings are part of the Greater Arizona Collection at ASU Library. For more information about Distinctive Collections at ASU Library, please feel free to visit our website or submit an inquiry to Ask an Archivist.
-Emily Pattni, Curation Specialist
1 To listen to more of MLK’s memorable speeches at pbs.org: https://www.pbs.org/weta/washingtonweek/blog-post/5-martin-luther-king-jr%E2%80%99s-most-memorable-speeches
2 Keeler, Sharon. (2014). Unknown recording of 1964 MLK speech at ASU discovered. ASU Now. https://asunow.asu.edu/content/unknown-recording-1964-mlk-speech-asu-discovered
3 Read more about Lincoln Ragsdale and the Civil Rights Movement in Phoenix in Blacks and Whites Together: Interracial Leadership in the Phoenix Civil Rights Movement (1991) by Mary Melcher published in the Journal of Arizona History, 32(2), 195–216. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41695873