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Welcome to North Star. I'm Genevieve Stewart the North Star was a symbol of hope for black slaves. Many escaped slaves followed their star north to non slave holding states trying to pursue this elusive intangible dream they called freedom. In terms of full equal rights it was another 100 years in coming. The reconstruction period following the Civil War was filled with jubilation over the anticipated exercising of basic rights the right to vote to be educated to be hired and paid equally. Newly freed slaves flocked by the thousands to register to vote and initially this is where the greatest gains were achieved. And Southern states where the majority of blacks lived men of color were elected to hold state offices and sit in the United States Congress. Businesses were established and small schools sprang up across the countryside. A brighter day was coming. They could feel it right away.
The glory of freedom was short lived. There were strides to be sure Louisiana's Pinchbeck served as the state's lieutenant governor and briefly as governor. Also was lieutenant governor. This was phenomenal for a race of people with years out of bondage. But when the federal troops were withdrawn and the states could legislate local laws without federal mandate other types of legal restraints were imposed taxes were levied and literally required as a prerequisite to voting could not pay the high poll taxes and without the benefit of an education could not pass the literacy test. Even educated black men were told they had failed the simple exam. It was apparent by the 1880s the blacks would no longer be allowed to exercise their right to vote. The other basic rights were lost as well. The promise of an equal education was never really set into motion by 1896 a court case was filed Plessy versus Ferguson
to integrate the public transportation system and the decision of this case had an overwhelming effect on other rights. The U.S. Supreme Court. The black children to an education in public schools but separately. This became known as the separate but equal doctrine one separate school system for whites and one for blacks but rarely were the facilities payscale or teaching materials equal. The gym became firmly entrenched in the system of government.
Will. You.
The separate but equal doctrine was applied to legally justify the segregation of public facilities. Blacks had to ride in the back of city buses and the separate railway cars drinking fountains and restrooms were marked colored and white. Hospital bits for blacks were often in substandard colored wings or damp basements with segregated hospital wards were not available in communities. Surgery was often performed on kitchen tables by the light of oil lamps. You see many politicians would not supply the public utilities electricity and water lines to black neighborhoods. Theaters were segregated with blacks relegated to back seats with a balcony. Well even in adversity humor prevails. It was the joke in black communities that this ploy had failed because the best view was often from the balcony. Blacks were refused access to white owned restaurants the dime stores and drug stores had lunch counters with swivel chairs like the old fashioned soda shops here blacks could purchase a
snack but in the colored section of department store clerks would white customers. But they were not permitted to try the merchandise. This was the existence of most blacks from the 1860s until the 1960s. By the early 1900s many blacks were disillusioned. It was time they felt to speak out. Fisk University in Nashville produced two young men who were fervent in their goals of organizing blacks on a large scale to initiate a movement for equal rights. PETER BOYCE co-founded the
NAACP and Dr. George Edwin Haynes start of the National Urban League the NAACP legal battles to challenge the separate but equal laws. The Urban League's thrust was in the area of employment local branches of both organizations spread rapidly nationwide. Many whites supported these goals and fund raising drives were launched black soldiers returning from the war were just fuel to the fire of freedom. The bullets that killed them battles were not white or black. They had risked their lives in equal jeopardy with white soldiers. The veterans were now prepared for the more difficult struggle on their own home ground. We want full manhood suffrage and we want it now. We want discrimination in public accommodations to cease. We want our children educated. We want the Constitution of the country enforced and we shall win.
Legal Defense Fund initiated hundreds of anti discrimination lawsuits for over 40 years but to no avail. When cases were won other tactics were devised to circumvent the court's decision. Blacks discovered a loophole in the system of segregation. The one opportunity they could exercise equally was the spending of money. By the early 1960s a united effort of selective buying or boycotts if they couldn't they wouldn't buy them. With rounds and holes. As a proud status symbol of participating in boycotts. This was coupled with bus boycotts nonviolent marches from towns to towns and the picketing of businesses and town halls. Black people quietly laid down across the steps of voter registration offices to protest disenfranchisement. Steps were taken to drink from whites only fountains at lunch counters until they were served or arrested. Usually they were arrested. Thousands of lights joined in the
effort as well. Jails became so good that schools had to be used to incarcerate the demonstrators. But still university professors and janitors would lock arms and sit it through the television cameras. The world was watching several such sit ins and marches were conducted by the students of Baton Rouge. They refused to be refused.
I hope you enjoy the songs of Dr. Smith. They are excerpts from his oratory tribulations dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King. The goon.
North Star
Long Black Song [Part 1 of 2]
Producing Organization
Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Contributing Organization
Louisiana Public Broadcasting (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
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Episode Description
This episode of the series "North Star" from 1985 focuses on the history of African Americans from the 1860s to the 1960s through the periods of Reconstruction, Segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. It features Dr. Valerian Smith performing excerpts from his musical composition "Tribulations," a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. Host: Genevieve Stewart
Other Description
"North Star is an educational show hosted by Genevieve Stewart, who goes into detail about specifica aspects of African American history each episode."
Asset type
Race and Ethnicity
Louisiana Educational Television Authority/Louisiana Public Broadcasting. Restricted Use. For permission or licensing information contact:
Media type
Moving Image
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Copyright Holder: Louisiana Educational Television Authority
Producing Organization: Louisiana Public Broadcasting
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Identifier: C3524 (Louisiana Public Broadcasting Archives)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:13:15
Louisiana Public Broadcasting
Identifier: LNOST-103-01 (Louisiana Public Broadcasting Archives)
Format: U-matic
Generation: Master
Duration: 00:30:00
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Chicago: “North Star; Long Black Song [Part 1 of 2],” 1985-00-00, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 25, 2022,
MLA: “North Star; Long Black Song [Part 1 of 2].” 1985-00-00. Louisiana Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 25, 2022. <>.
APA: North Star; Long Black Song [Part 1 of 2]. Boston, MA: Louisiana Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from