Bringing the Past to Life: Colorized Images from the Jim Crow South

May 14, 2024

Elizabeth Eckford's Valiant Attempt to Enter Little Rock Central High School

In the sepia tones of history, the era of Jim Crow often appears distant and detached, a shadowy reflection of a divided America. Yet, when we infuse these images with color, the stark realities of the period emerge with renewed clarity and emotion. Colorized photographs bring into vivid detail the daily lives of those who navigated the oppressive system of legalized racial segregation. From the signage of segregation to the resilience in the faces of those who endured, these images offer a more immediate connection to a past that is both painful and pivotal. They serve as a powerful reminder of the enduring struggle for justice and the human spirit's capacity to persevere under the most challenging circumstances.

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A last-minute change of plans left Elizabeth Eckford as the first Black student to try to integrate Little Rock Central High School. She was initially supposed to be joined by eight other students and enter the school's rear door, but because her family had no phone she was unaware of the change to the plan. While a white mob yelled insults at her, she boldly walked up to the school's front door, and to make matters all the more horrifying a National Guardsman welding a bayonet refused to let her enter.  

All alone, Elizabeth ran back to the public bus stop while members of the crowd threatened to lynch and hang her from a tree. There, she met reporter Benjamin Fine, who helped protect her until she could catch a bus home. Grace Lorch, who was white, rode the bus with Elizabeth. Two weeks later, she entered the school with the other members of the Little Rock Nine.  

Ku Klux Klan Members Destroy Rosewood, Florida, Killing Residents

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In January 1923, the tranquil town of Rosewood, Florida, became the scene of unimaginable horror. Fannie Taylor, a white woman, falsely accused Jesse Hunter, a Black man, of assaulting her, igniting an explosive chain of events. A frenzied mob, led by men like John Wright and Henry Andrews, descended upon the predominantly Black community with unfathomable savagery. In their wake, they left a trail of destruction. At least 27 people died, but witnesses suggest that number could be as many as 150 people. The air was thick with smoke as homes burned and families fled into the night.