Discrimination and the loss of civil liberties had little regard for one's standing in society. Along with countless acts of protest by ordinary people across this country, many well-known figures also fought for the recognition of personal and constitutional rights.
Photograph, 2nd Lt. Jackie Robinson in Uniform, 1940s
Courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, New York
General Court-Martial Orders Number 130, Headquarters XXII Corps, August 23, 1944
National Archives-St. Louis, Records of the Army Staff
(ARC ID 2641509)
Refusing to move to the back of the bus, Second Lt. Jackie Robinson was detained by the military police. Angered by the discrimination, Robinson was court-martialed for insubordination.
Jack R. Robinson to the Adjutant General, Request for Retirement from Active Duty, August 25, 1944
National Archives-St. Louis, Records of the Army Staff (ARC ID 2641510)
Acquitted of all charges, Robinson requested relief from active duty because of his limited duty fitness classification. In a few short years, he became the first African American to break Major League Baseball’s “color line” when he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Photograph, Ella Fitzgerald, 1964
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
Complaint, Ella Fitzgerald et al v. Pan American, December 23, 1954
Ella Fitzgerald, John Lewis, Georgiana Henry, and Norman Granz vs Pan American World Airways, Inc., Civil 97-356, Civil Case Files National Archives, Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21 (ARC ID 2641486)
Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, an international singing sensation, faced discrimination when on tour. En route to a concert from Honolulu to Australia, Ella Fitzgerald was denied the right to board a Pan American flight.
Appeal Request from Lenny Bruce,
December 15, 1964
Lenny Bruce vs Hon. John M. Murtagh, Criminal Court of the City of New York: Special Sessions: County of New York: Part 2B: Frank S. Hogan, The District Attorney of the County of New York, Civil 64-3574, Civil Case Files National Archives, Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21
(ARC ID 2641487)
After his conviction, Lenny Bruce appealed, claiming that his rights to due process, guaranteed under the 14th Amendment, were violated. The appeal overturned his conviction, but only after Bruce had died on August 3, 1966.
Top of Page