Civil Rights Assassinations and Murders – Project Update

Hey everyone! I hope you all are doing well!

Originally, my project was going to be mapping the Civil Rights movement but after looking into it further, I realized as cool of an idea it could be, it would be a lot to take on for one person. So, based on the conversation we had in class about my project, I decided to focus on different assassinations and murders of the Civil Rights movement and the impact each of them had on other Civil Rights events using Arc GIS. I would include a link to the project but that would require me to publish it but I’m not sure if I can edit it again after that so I didn’t want to risk it.

Honestly this is a pretty brutal project and sometimes I feel insane for doing it but it’s also really interesting

I’ve picked several key figures, which I’ll write more about later in the post, but eventually, with more time to do research, I’d like to expand the project to include figures that aren’t as well known in this. For now, I’ve selected people who I know off the bat had a major influence with their deaths, going chronologically, beginning with Emmett Till.

For each person I plan to include their death date, a photo of them, and probably a short bio. I haven’t included the bio here yet because I’m not totally sure what all to include in it that would be relevant. That is my first question that I hope you guys might be able to help me with. What would you want to see in the bio of these people? Do you care about their background outside of Civil Rights? Or would it be more beneficial and concise to include just information about their activism or life as a black person during Jim Crow. This is a little more difficult for figures like Till and the four girls killed in the 16th St Birmingham Church bombing because none of them were actively involved in advancing civil rights, they were all just kids hanging out with their cousins or going to church. Any advice on how to approach the bio/info/whatever section?

For each assassination or murder I’m including a numbered point as the assassination/murder location, including a photo, the date, and information about what happened. The points stemming out from there are then events that happened in response to the assassination/murder and also include a photo, dates, and descriptions. The plot in Chicago is the funeral of Till which gained media attention at the request of his mother and was one of the sparks of the Civil Rights movements. The plot in Sumner, Mississippi is the trial of Milam and Bryant where they were acquitted of killing Till. The Montgomery point is the Montgomery Bus Boycott in which Rosa Parks was inspired by Till to not give up her seat that day. Some of these assassinations/murders will have more or less responses, this one being one of the fewer, but MLK’s assassination will obviously have many more points.

The above are the other assassinations/murders I have planned out, so this is where I ask my second question: Can any of you think of others I should add to this list? These were the ones I know really well. I also have another question for you guys. I had the idea of taking this beyond Civil Rights and sort of showing how this kind of things continues even today with maybe a post Civil Rights section. I was thinking about including people like Rodney King (although he wasn’t assassinated, there was a huge response to his attack by police), Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, etc. I didn’t know if this would be too much or stemming too far from my original idea but I thought it might be an interesting inclusion to the conversation about race. Let me know what you guys think! I hope all of your projects are going well!

4 Replies to “Civil Rights Assassinations and Murders – Project Update”

  1. Hi Sarah!
    I support your idea of including Rodney King and other more recent events. I think this shows that the Civil Rights movement wasn’t a neat little packages that solved all the problems once new laws were in place. Maybe look for assassinations that occurred earlier than the ones you have listed to expand the timeline a bit more?

    I certainly care about their lives outside of the movement, as I think it contributes to their lives in the movement! This also helps you avoid simply memorializing (which isn’t a bad thing) and speak to the larger context of their life/death. Does that make sense?

    1. Ani!! That’s exactly what I was thinking! I was going through choosing these people and kept thinking that these aren’t enough because the murders of black people don’t just start and stop with the Civil Rights movement. It’s not a neat little package that ties up in a nice little bow with 1968, like you said, hence why originally I really did want to include Fred Hampton’s assassination in 1969 to show that 1968 wasn’t just the end of civil rights and were still battling it today. As for the murders prior to the defined Civil Rights movement, maybe Jack Del Nunzio could offer some insight into famous lynchings that had big impacts and things like that!!

  2. Hi Sarah! I can’t wait to see your final project. I also agree with Ani about including events that occurred outside the standard timeline of the Civil Rights Movement. This plays into Jacquelyn D Hall’s argument about extending the temporal boundaries of the movement to include other critical events. The infamous lynching of Matthew Williams in Salisbury, Maryland in 1931. Cartoonist Edmund Duffy drew an illustration to pair with the article that reported on it. It might be interesting to include those primary sources as well? Here are some links that could be helpful:
    https://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/013700/013749/html/13749bio.html
    https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/bs-md-lynching-in-maryland-20180919-htmlstory.html
    https://nmaahc.si.edu/explore/stories/collection/evidence-things-unsaid

  3. Hi Sarah, exciting to see how your project is coming together! Great to see you asking questions about what kind of content to include in the bios. I think my primary suggestion there would be to ask you to think about your proposed users. How did they come to your map? What do they want to get out of your map? What is it you are hoping they will take away from it? The better the answers you have for those questions the more clear the answers to what to include will be.

    I do think it could be really powerful to include people like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. If you do go into that, it would be important to think about how you are framing your overarching narrative to include this longer form history.

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