This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

A Hollow Inheritance: The Legacies of the Tuskegee Civic Association and the Crusade for Civic Democracy in Alabama




Smith, Gabriel

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis




This thesis examines and analyzes the Tuskegee Civic Association’s “Crusade for Citizenship” in Alabama. In 1957, the Crusade encouraged black citizens to boycott businesses owned and operated by segregationist whites in response to a recent gerrymander bill enacted by the all-white state legislature aimed at neutralizing black voter strength. Tuskegee’s blacks, unlike those in many other communities, did not depend nearly as heavily on whites for employment or income. Many were faculty members at Tuskegee Institute and trained physicians and nurses at the nearby Veterans Administration Hospital. As the boycott continued into 1958, blacks exerted their own economic dominance over the community, forcing many of the segregationist merchants and likeminded white citizens to flee to nearby towns. Despite their success in establishing an early Civil Rights foothold, African Americans’ fight to challenge Jim Crow in Tuskegee had unforeseen consequences. This thesis also examines the rise and decline of the Tuskegee Civic Association. As a grass-roots civil rights organization, the TCA worked tirelessly for decades to challenge Jim Crow segregation. However, the rise of a new and younger generation of civil rights workers and organizations in 1965 marked the beginning of a more radical and turbulent period for Civil Rights in Alabama.