60 Years Ago - Roslyn Rallies for Civil Rights
On June 8th, 1960, exactly 60 years ago this evening, over 1,000 people gathered at Roslyn High School to attend the Stand-Up-And-Be-Counted Rally For The Sit-Down Negro Students.
As seen in this promotional flyer from the Local History Collection, the rally was organized by the Roslyn Committee for Civil Rights, and billed as “an unusual event of national importance.”
The featured speaker of the event was Civil Rights Movement leader Reverend Ralph D. Abernathy, a close friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a key organizer of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
In his speech, Abernathy emphasized to those in attendance that pressure must be brought upon Congress to “get effective civil rights legislation passed” and that demonstrations like the lunch counter sit-ins were meant to “put justice into business.”
An estimated $2,000 was raised in ticket sales and donations which went towards providing scholarships for black students in the southern United States, as well as the NAACP legal aid defense fund for individuals who were being arrested for taking part in the protests and demonstrations that were happening at that time.
The flyer advertises the rally’s entertainment as being provided by celebrated actors and married couple Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, whose legacy of Civil Rights activism is well-known to history. Unfortunately, at this time there are no further details available about their appearance at this event.
We invite you to reflect on the gravity of such an event and the continued relevance of its message over half a century later. As we work to create a better and more inclusive society, we must look upon the past to understand what it takes to effect real and lasting changes for the future.
Quotes and other info for this post were sourced from the June 9th, 1960 Newsday article “Southern Negro Leader Asks for North’s Aid” by Bob Wiemer.