Civil Rights

Persuasive maps produced during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras shed light on the racism, segregation, and discrimination African Americans faced, while also spreading information to advance the ongoing fight for human equality.

In the 1920s and 30s, organizations formed to protest and prevent lynching, for example, produced maps to shine a light on its horrific prevalence by documenting where it was happening. In the 1940s and 50s, black travelers seeking safe passage had access to an increasing number of lists and maps showing the locations of establishments that welcomed African Americans. In the 1960s and 70s, black liberation organizations like the Black Panther Party shared information about instances of violent civil unrest and dissent with their members.

Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching. Geographical Distribution of Lynchings 1930-1939. [1940].
On loan from the Collection of PJ Mode.

The Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching was an Atlanta based organization made up entirely of middle and upper class white women. Founded in 1930 to campaign against the lynching of African Americans, it produced a series of broadsides mapping the locations and numbers of lynchings. The group declared:

Lynching is an indefensible crime. Women dare no longer allow themselves to be the cloak behind which those bent upon personal revenge and savagery commit acts of violence and lawlessness in the name of women. We repudiate this disgraceful claim for all time.

Black Community News Service. “Guerrilla Acts of Sabotage and Terrorism in the United States 1965-1970.” The Black Panther, San Francisco, 1971.
Gift of PJ Mode.

The Black Panther – Black Community News Service, the most important newspaper of the black liberation movement, provided news and information about the fight for equality from an African American perspective, including this map and associated list that documents instances of civil unrest and dissent.

Afro American Travel Bureau. “Afro American Travel Map. Travel Guide of Negro Hotels and Guest Houses.” Afro-American Newspapers, 1942.
On loan from the Collection of PJ Mode.

In response to the dangers that black travelers encountered during the Jim Crow era, the Afro Travel Bureau, a division of the Afro-American newspaper chain founded in 1892, issued maps and guides that listed businesses and private homes where travelers would not be refused service due to the color of their skin. Other guides, such as The Negro Motorist Green Book, carried extensive listings for a variety of services including restaurants and service stations, along with warnings about which roads, towns, or counties to avoid.

“Klan Shadow Falls on Nation’s Politics: Hooded Band Sways Elections in Seven States and Dreams of Control in Others.” New York Times. November 18, 1923.
On loan from the Collection of PJ Mode.

The map accompanying this New York Times article shows the state-by-state status of the Ku Klux Klan in 1923.

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