New York: New York Labor Youth League, . Mimeographed broadside, 11 x 8.5 inches. Old horizontal fold, minor toning. "March 1956" handwritten at bottom right corner. Very good plus. Item #2883
A very rare broadside handbill wholly concerned with the case of Autherine Lucy, the first African American student admitted to the University of Alabama. Lucy first applied to the University of Alabama as a graduate student in 1952. She was initially admitted but her admission was rescinded when the university found out she was African American. Her case was then taken up by two of the most prominent civil rights lawyers in America - Arthur Shores and Thurgood Marshall. Lucy's court battle lasted most of the next three years. In the midst of her legal fight, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, which effectively ended segregation in American public schools. Lucy's lawyers employed the decision in her case, and eventually Lucy was allowed to begin taking classes at Alabama in February 1956. As stated in the present broadside, her reception on campus was met with great hostility, and her admission turned out to be a pyrrhic victory. After her lawyers filed a complaint accusing the university of emboldening the campus mob that accosted Lucy, which they failed to prove, the university used the action as grounds to expel Lucy for defamation. It would thirty-two years before the wrong was made right.
The present broadside, issued by the New York Labor Youth League, wholeheartedly supports Lucy in her efforts to attend Alabama, and excoriates those who are working against her. The text begins: "Autherine Lucy is fighting for the elementary right to a democratic education at the University of Alabama. For this 'crime,' she was met by the burning of crosses, and a vile tongued racist mob which hurled eggs, rocks and even threats of murder." The authors lambast the government for failure to protect Lucy and uphold the Supreme Court's desegregation edicts in the Brown decision. They also rail against the mobs preventing Lucy from attending school, the "Dixiecrats" who are fighting integration, the elected officials "who have called for the use of force and violence to undermine the Supreme Court and the Constitution," and the "leaders of the White Citizens Councils." The authors ask fundamental questions about equality and fairness and the rule of law, writing: "The Best Way to Defend the Constitution Against Force and Violence is to Punish the Perpetrators of Force and Violence. Does not the Failure to Punish the Mob in Alabama Give the Green Light to Similar Action by Future Mobs?" They also propose numerous courses of action meant to aid desegregation in Alabama, ultimately calling for students to "raise their voices now for federal intervention in Alabama."
Autherine Lucy's experience with the University of Alabama eventually had a happy ending, though far too late. Looking to right an historical wrong, the University rescinded her expulsion and invited her to pursue a graduate degree in elementary education in 1988, thirty-two years after her expulsion. This was the same year her daughter started as a freshman at Alabama; the two graduated together in 1992. At the commencement ceremony, Lucy was given a standing ovation when she walked across the stage. A portrait of her is now installed at the University and an endowed scholarship bears her name. If only decades sooner....
No copies in OCLC or at auction.