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Local Reactions to National Civil Rights Movement Developments

Chris Biehl, Chris Barrer, Devin Clark, Sam Mattingly

The overall reaction to the Civil Rights Movement in Crawfordsivlle was dyadic, with two separate groups of people responding in a similar manner. Students from Wabash College were primarily in favor of desegreagtion and supporting the overall goals of the Civil Rights Movment. This is shown through their participation in different rallies and opinions from The Bachelor. Citizens of Crawfordsville also responded postivley through supporting antisegregation protests and expressing their pro-civil rights opinions in the local newspaper. These artifacts demonstrate that many prominent figures and organizations such as churches, local newspapers, and concerned citizens of the town expressed their support for the movement avidly with the support of those involved with the college. The citizens of Crawfordsville contributed to marches, rallys, and several written works discussing and protesting the social injustice of the time. Crawfordsville, Indiana was not only the center of many marches, talks, and protests, with the intent of supporting the movement but also a center for Indiana’s Ku Klux Klan activity, contributing to a very tense and active time overall.

This exhibit shows several indivualistic accounts of how people in Crawfordsville dealt and responded to key events in the Civil Rights Movement. There are several minor differences between citizens of Crawfordsville and Students at Wabash College. These differences do not take away from the overall postive response towards events and individuals promoting desegregation. Understanding a small town in Indiana’s response to the Civil Rights Movement allows for a better understanding in general of both the successes and issues associated with the Civil Rights Movement itself Nationwide. Indiana and specifically Crawfordsville act as a buffer between racial attitudes in the south and progressive attitudes in the North. Crawfordsville acts as a case study for how a town in this position would be affected by the Civil Rights Movement.

Gwendolyn Dudley Interview (excerpts)

Interview with Gwendolyn Dudley,
Wabash Oral History Project,
April 29, 1983

In this interview, Gwendolyn Dudley, a former resident of Crawfordsville of 18 years, talks about which CRM leader she admires more: Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X. As the two most well known figures in the CRM, her preference shows how people viewed these two back then, and grants insight into their groups ideology, because it is largely based off of their own.

75 Police Officers on Hand for March

"75 Police Officers
on Hand for March,"

the Journal Review, March 24, 1964

This newspaper article details several reactions Crawfordsville locals had on both the public and state level. This details the decision of the local government to send police to protect one of many anti-apartheid marches from the Ku Klux Klan who had been marching in Crawfordsville earlier on in the month.

YIA Rally Set for Tomorrow Afternoon

"YIA Rally Set for
Tomorrow Afternoon,"

the Bachelor, April 26, 1968

The Wabash College Chapter of Youth for an Integrated America (YIA) organized and facilitated a rally in Indianapolis at Military Park for students who feel strongly towards promoting desegregation in both Indiana and America as a whole. The rally was attended by over a dozen Indiana colleges and universities and featured guest speakers Mayor Richard Lugar, Reverend Andrew Brown, and Youth Coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Stoney Cooks. 

Letter to the Editor

Grady Franklin's
Letter to the Editor
Life Magazine, June 7, 1963

This letter to the editor of Life Magazine by Grady Franklin, a freelance journalist in Crawfordsville, captures the feelings of a city resident who was moved enough by photography published in Life to write about how it changed his perspective on the civil rights movement.  The letter was a part of a large selection of letters that were published in Life, a nationally distributed magazine with a wide-reaching audience.

Local Reactions to National Civil Rights Movement Developments