June 25, 1957
In 1957, the Alabama Legislature sought to protect white political rule in Tuskegee by redrawing voting districts. The gerrymandered boundaries placed the Tuskegee Institute and all but a few black residents outside the city limits. On June 25, an overflow crowd of 3,000 of Macon County’s black citizens gathered at Butler Chapel AME Zion Church for the first of many weekly mass meetings. It resulted in a boycott of white businesses, driven by the Tuskegee Civic Association, that would last four years and draw national attention. The boycott was called off after the U.S. Supreme Court in 1961 tossed out the gerrymandered districts as a violation of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, which bans the federal government and states from denying people the right to vote because of their race.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.