Inside the Struggle: Photos Give Insight into the Desegregation of Girard College

In commemoration of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University Libraries exhibited images from its signature collection, John W. Mosley Photograph Collection, at Girard College for the Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 21, 2013. The civil rights photos by the internationally and nationally known Philadelphia photographer document the interconnections between Dr. King, Cecil B. Moore, the Freedom Fighters and other Philadelphians who were active participants in the movement to expose and eliminate the wrongs of segregation and inequality in Philadelphia and throughout the nation during the 1960s.

Many of Mosley’s Girard College protest images along with a treasure trove of archival materials from Temple University Libraries’ Urban Archives are featured on the Temple University Libraries’ website Civil Rights in a Northern City: Philadelphia. This primary source collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, oral histories, videos of Dr. King and more powerfully reveals the campaigns fought by African Americans and their supporters at the 10-foot Girard College wall because of an 1831 segregation clause in the will of its founder, Stephan Girard, that the school was created to offer free education to white, male orphans only. Girard believed that a quality education would be marred severely if the sons of enslaved Africans were allowed to study next to the sons of whites. As a result, civil rights organizations prepared to challenge the school’s philosophy. In his speech on August 2, 1965, Dr. King stated that “on the one hand I am delighted to see so many of you here … on the other hand, it is a sad experience to stand at this wall in the 20th century in Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty, and know that it is a barrier to God’s Negro children.”

To learn more about Black activism and civil rights protests launched in North Philadelphia, including the Columbia Avenue riots, visit northerncity.library.temple.edu.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.